Correa explains severity of injuries, circumstances of Spa crash
Injured Formula 2 racer Juan Manuel Correa has given his first in-depth interview to an Argentinian radio station about the crash at Spa-Francorchamps in August in which Anthoine Hubert was killed, and the severity of the injuries that he is now determined to overcome.
Correa spent over a week on a life-support machine after his lungs filled with liquid as his body went into shock in the aftermath of the 70G impact at Raidillon. Once stablized, he subsequently underwent a 17-hour surgery on his leg injuries, and now faces a long rehabilitation phase at home in Miami.
Speaking to the Mundo Sport radio show in Argentina, Correa gave an extensive insight into the scope of his injuries.
“Basically the doctors rebuilt my right leg, the left one suffered much milder injuries, a single surgery was enough," he said. "The process will last a year, with more surgeries to come, recovery and rehabilitation. Unfortunately, it is most likely to never make a full recovery in my [right] leg. But I will fight to recover it enough to step on the throttle again.
“I lost six centimeters of bone in the lower part of the tibia, [but] it is growing again with a special device. That's why I have all those metals pieces around my leg that you see in social media. I grow the bone by one millimeter per day.
“On December 23 I have the next surgery where the bone will reach the foot. Then the process will come where the new bone will strengthen hard so it can support weight. After that the metals will be removed to recover as much as possible, assess how much pain or mobility I have and see what other operations follow.”
In terms of his prognosis for recovery, Correa added: “At the beginning the doctors expected two years to make the recovery, but my body is doing everything faster, it recovers and regenerates the bones faster than normal. Being optimistic, in a year we could have the full idea of how much more I can recover.
“Being a professional athlete was a huge help, not only because of the bones and the body but also the pulmonary arrest I suffered, so I spent two weeks in a coma. I would not have survived without being in this physical condition.”
Speaking about the crash itself, Correa revealed that debris from the first part of the multi-car crash at Spa became wedged beneath his Dallara – leaving him powerless to avoid Hubert’s car as it bounced into his path having already hit a tyre wall.
“It’s strange that I didn't lose consciousness in the crash," he commented. "It was an impact of 70G – when I told doctors that I hadn't lost consciousness they didn't believe me. Before I crashed I put my muscles hard and I held on tight, that helped me too. I wanted to get out of the car myself, I was conscious throughout the whole accident.
“When I went through Eau Rouge I [drove over] debris from [Guiliano] Alesi’s car that got under the front wheels, lifted them so I went straight, with the bad luck that I went straight into Hubert’s car.
“It’s all clear – I had meetings with the FIA. It was an accident with very bad luck, a long chain of events where four or five cars were involved. What I said about what I experienced coincides with the FIA report. But it’s over, no investigation is going to change the fact that I have a hard year ahead.
“It took me a few weeks to accept everything, it is difficult to understand with pain drugs in the hospital. It took me time to accept it, but my attitude is pragmatic; nothing will change what happened, so I have to make the best of it.
“Of course, I feel sadness: Anthoine was a good friend, but now I feel that I have to return not only for myself but also for him.”
Talking about how he is facing up to the long road of rehabilitation ahead, Correa said he is determined to stay true to his dream of returning to F2 competition.
He vowed: “I won’t do anything I didn't do before – I'm with the same people that surrounded me, a lot of physical and mental work. They were my base alongside my family.
"I have a strong character. When I woke up from the coma I realized that I could stay in bed feeling bad and depressed or fight to get up and go back, and that’s what I’ll do. I am motivated by the dream of returning to F2 and reaching F1 in the future.
“The amount of messages I received and people who wanted to visit me in the hospital, even from people I don't know, motivated me a lot, especially in the toughest moments. I met Billy Monger who keeps racing after what he suffered: that helped me on the mental issue because after an accident like mine I saw that I could recover. I tried to find him. I wanted to congratulate him on how he came back: only him and I know what we went through so we had an instant connection.
“I was motivated by his attitude: he is a very happy guy with a lot of energy, good vibes and that helped me out of the hole in those two months. There are drivers who didn’t go through things like this who also sent a lot of energy. I was very close to Alex Albon, we have known each other since 2014. He came to see me in London, the whole motorsport community was amazing with me.
“It was an accident that changed my life, not only physically but mentally. When you have an experience so close to death and you go out alive, your eyes open beyond motor racing. There were moments in the hospital where I wasn't sure if I wanted to race again. I realized that racing is not the most important thing – it is my passion, but such an accident shows you the priorities, and my priority was my health and my family.
“My passion is still racing. A friend asked me if this turns off my F1 dream. I told him that an accident does not turn off the dream, it does make you think if you want to take a risk for a dream. And I decided that I want to continue doing so because it is my dream.”
Juan Manuel Correa, Sauber Junior Team by Charouz
Photo by: Gareth Harford / Motorsport Images
Lundgaard to make F2 debut in Abu Dhabi with Trident
Markelov secures F2 return with HWA for 2020