Juan Manuel Correa will be present at Spa-Francorchamps this weekend, returning to the paddock one year after the accident that left him with serious injuries, and resulted in the death of Anthoine Hubert.
A multi-car crash occurred on the second lap of last year’s Formula 2 Feature Race in Belgium in which Hubert was killed and Correa sustained life-threatening injuries.
Correa spent time in an induced coma after suffering a respiratory failure and eventually underwent lengthy surgery on severe leg injuries, opting against an amputation.
Correa has since been undertaking his rehabilitation from his native Miami and has regularly documented this process via his social media accounts.
He recently returned to the 321 Perform training facility in the Pyrenees and this weekend has accepted an invitation from Formula 2 organisers to be present at Spa-Francorchamps.
“It’s one year since the crash happened,” said Correa in a Formula 2 Instagram live on Thursday.
“I felt there was a way for me to kind of close a chapter, but more importantly to pay my tribute to Anthoine, I haven’t been able to do so properly from Miami.
“I just felt like coming out this weekend, I got the invitation from F2 and I took it in a heartbeat.
“I’m really happy to be here, happy to see everyone in the paddock again, but it will also be a very sad and emotional weekend for me.”
Correa emphasised that he wants to return to Formula 2 and is currently targeting a full-time seat for the 2021 season, having started talks with teams.
“It’s going quite well, I’ve been recovering quite quickly,” he said.
“I’ve been pushing a lot with that racer mindset of always doing more than necessary. It’s worked out well.
“I’m actually looking for a comeback next year, so [it is] earlier than we thought initially, but it’s looking good.
“I have still quite a few surgeries left to go but the whole metal thing around my leg should be gone at the end of this year which means I can jump in a car maybe as early as December.”
Correa also expanded further on the early stages of his recovery through the closing months of 2019, revealing the extreme pain that he suffered from the injuries.
“The hardest thing… probably mentally,” he said. “First of all it’s really tough to be in a wheelchair, to not have a lot of mobility.
“The pain at the beginning was definitely the toughest, for four months I was in constant pain. Constant, constant pain.
“I’m not talking about a scratch, it was pain that I wasn’t able to sleep, I was on heavy drugs, every day, I kind of lost myself with all the drugs I was taking.
“I couldn’t feel emotions anymore, I was kind of like a robot, I was sleeping maybe an average one or two hours a night for a few months, that takes a toll on you mentally.
“Then after the good thing about recovery is it gets better. That’s kind of my philosophy how I’ve seen this whole thing: it can only get better from here.
“That’s what kept me afloat and sane in a way, it has also motivated me to push and make the recovery as fast as possible.”
Several tributes are planned in memory of Hubert this weekend at Spa-Francorchamps, including a minute’s silence prior to the Formula 1 and Formula 2 races.