Juan Manuel Correa: 'I thought I had lost my legs then and there'

'I thought I had lost my legs then and there' (3:06)

F2 driver Juan Manuel Correa opens up about his life-changing injuries from crash with Anthoine Hubert. (3:06)

Juan Manuel Correa has opened up to ESPN about the crash that left him with life-altering leg injuries and claimed the life of fellow F2 racer Anthoine Hubert last year.

American driver Correa crashed into Hubert's car during a race in Belgium last August. The pair were racing in F2, the official feeder series to Formula One.

Hubert had lost control of his car, which came to a stop at one of the most dangerous points of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, as Correa approached over a blind crest of a hill, resulting in a 218 km/h crash that reached a peak impact force of 81.8g.

Hubert died in the accident and Correa spent months in the hospital, returning home to Miami in November having opted against amputation in favour of a total reconstruction of his right leg. Earlier this month, Correa posted a video of himself walking without crutches, far sooner than doctors had predicted he would be able to.

In an extensive interview with Alexis Nunes on the ESPN F1 Podcast, Correa talked about his memories of the crash -- from which he never passed out -- as well as his recovery, the hallucinations he experienced after coming out of an induced coma, and coming to terms with his injuries and the loss of Hubert.

Despite spending months in intensive care, Correa can vividly recall the crash.

"I don't know how I didn't pass out," he said. "I wish I would have passed out but I was fully conscious.

"The thing that really scared me in that moment was that, usually with the amount of adrenaline we have, you don't feel pain at all. I've had crashes before where I've walked out and then three hours later I couldn't get out of my bed from the pain, but in the moment I didn't feel anything.

"What scared me was that immediately the pain, the shooting pain I felt on my legs... I knew something was seriously wrong. Initially I was convinced I had lost my legs right then and there. I had massive pain but I couldn't move them, because they were hanging on from the skin.

"It was really scary and I kind of went into a state of shock because of the adrenaline, the pain. Plus because of the impact I couldn't breathe, my chest took a huge impact as well. It was that whole combination, it was really scary."

He also recalls the difficulty in hearing the news of his injuries and the loss of Hubert.

"Everything was really surreal, like a very, very bad nightmare. But it's a nightmare you never wake up from.

"The whole process of dealing with it and finding out Anthoine had passed, it was very sad, very, very sad. Unbelievable.

He added: "My subconscious knew Anthoine had died but I had to ask again as I wasn't sure what was real and was in my hallucinations. It was a very strange process."

Correa is ahead of schedule of his rehabilitation and is targeting a return to racing early next year. He joked that in the early weeks after coming out of the coma he considered leaving racing behind and becoming a DJ, but soon realised he could never fully turn his back on motor racing.

"Racing is really what I love and it only took me a few days to realise I wasn't going to lose my love for racing that easily. I needed a challenge to motivate myself and do the long journey I have ahead of me.

"Coming back to racing is really a challenge that motivates me and keeps me in a positive mind frame. That's why this comeback is very important for me."

To listen to the full podcast on various platforms, click here.