F2 Driver Juan Manuel Correa Returns to Racing Two Years After Crash That Nearly Killed Him
The 2019 crash at Spa-Francorchamps forced Correa into an 18-month coma and claimed the life of French racer Anthoine Hubert.
Ecuadorian-American racing driver Juan Manuel Correa endured life-threatening injuries during a horrific Formula 2 crash that killed fellow racer Anthoine Hubert at Spa-Francorchamps in 2019. Correa has been on a long road to recovery since, including weeks in a medically induced coma immediately following the crash. Although doctors initially offered to amputate his right leg, he has managed to regain unimpeded use of it after more than a year of it being pinned in an external fixator and multiple surgeries.
Correa announced today that he will be racing the 2021 Formula 3 season with ART, one of the highest-performing teams in the series. Formula 3 is a category below Formula 2, as you might numerically assume, on the way to Formula 1 but both accompany Grand Prix and are considered feeder series to F1, all governed by the FIA.
Formula 2 will not race at Spa-Francorchamps in the 2021 season after the junior series calendars were split to ease logistics and potentially save team and driver budgets. However, by signing for Formula 3, Correa will be racing there as part of the Belgian Grand Prix weekend.
Correa visited Spa during last year's event, which he called a milestone in his recovery, saying he was able to live with the memories of the accident because he thought about it every day. "It is something that I have been thinking about every day for the past year. So for me, it is not such a big shock to have these memories come up anymore, not as much as it may be to people who don't necessarily think about it every day. For me, it is something that I have to deal with," Correa said in an F2 interview.
Having not raced for 18 months, Correa's return is a monumental achievement and a swifter recovery than might have been expected from such severe injuries. He shared x-ray images of his shattered lower legs last October, during recovery from what he called the "twentieth or so" surgery to repair them.
"First of all, I’m extremely happy to be back after what I’ve been through. I am super thankful to ART Grand Prix; it means a lot to me that they’re believing in me and my comeback," Correa said about his return to racing.
"F3 is a transition year, my dream is still to reach F1 and this is the first step in my comeback. My targets are a bit ahead of myself, because I still have to do a lot, I have not driven a car for a year and a half and there is a big learning curve ahead. I’m entering this season with an open mind, I won’t put pressure on myself, I will do my best, I will do what I love and that’s already a victory."
ART CEO Sebastien Philippe said that the team welcomed Correa's experience and that they anticipated strong results from his return to racing, despite the circumstances.
"Juan Manuel is extremely strong mentally, he is still fighting to be as fit as possible and he is hungry. Behind the wheel, his talent is immense, as shown by his achievements in go-karts and then his first few years in motorsport," said Philippe in a press release.
The F3 season will commence in May, with three races at Barcelona.
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