Charles Leclerc has admitted he feared “the worst” when he witnessed Romain Grosjean’s horrifying Bahrain Grand Prix crash through his mirrors.
Grosjean miraculously escaped with only burns to his hands after his Haas car clipped Daniil Kvyat’s AlphaTauri, speared into a barrier at 137mph, split in two and the front end, containing the driver, burst into flames.
The race was immediately red-flagged and Leclerc revealed he did not know Grosjean’s fate until he arrived back in the pits, having asked Ferrari over the team radio but not been given a definitive answer.
“I saw the crash in my mirrors, I was aware straight away that it was extremely serious and I thought the worst straight away,” Leclerc told BBC Sport.
He said the minutes before he found out Grosjean had escaped “felt like hours”.
The Monegasque driver added: “I have to be honest, I didn’t have much hope only watching it in the mirrors and I was extremely worried on the (car-to-pit) radio.
“Unfortunately, there was no news until I got back into the pits and got out of the car to finally know he was out, which I couldn’t really believe, especially because coming into turn nine, I saw the flames and the fire.”
Leclerc said he had been in touch with Grosjean following the accident.
The Frenchman was discharged from hospital on Wednesday and returned to the Bahrain International Circuit on Thursday to meet members of the Haas team and thank F1 chief medical officer Dr Ian Roberts and medical driver Alan van der Merwe, who both arrived swiftly at the scene to assist after he clambered out of the car.
Grosjean will miss this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix, on a different configuration of the Bahrain track, but is targeting a return for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on December 13 – which is meant to be his last race for Haas.
Leclerc said: “I sent him two messages. The first one, I don’t think he saw it because probably he received thousands of messages. The second one he replied, probably because he could write again, as I have seen on social media that they took off his bandages.
“He was able to text again and I was happy and he seems to do fine. I didn’t go to see him at the hospital because I expected lots of people there and I didn’t want to bother him.”