Richard Hammond apologised to his wife and children on Sunday after a crash in a £2 million (R32m) electric supercar left him seconds away from being ‘incinerated’.
The accident-prone TV presenter, who was airlifted to hospital in Switzerland after the fireball crash in the electric-powered Rimac Concept One, said he had "binned it again" and felt like a "colossal idiot".
In a video message entitled I’m Not Dead, posted on the Drive Tribe blog from his hospital bed (watch it here), the 47-year-old said he was sorry for putting his family through the mill again 11 years after a crash on Top Gear put him in a coma.
Earlier this year he was left unconscious after falling from a motorbike in Africa, and last month he vowed not to do any more dangerous stunts for the sake of his "beautiful" family. Hammond, who fractured his knee, thanked medical staff after his latest brush with death which happened when he careered off a hillside while filming for Amazon’s The Grand Tour on Saturday. He joked that doctors would be giving him a ‘Swiss army knee’ and that co-presenter James May had smuggled gin into the hospital.
However, he said the "most important" thing was to issue a heartfelt apology to his wife Amanda and daughters, Izzy, 16, and Willow, 13.
Revealing how lucky Hammond had been to escape alive from the burning Rimac Concept One car, The Grand Tour’s executive producer Andy Wilman said: "Jeremy [Clarkson] and James both raced down to the scene of the crash as soon as it happened. "When they saw the wreckage on fire they thought Richard was dead. They were staggered he had got out alive because there was just nothing left."
He told the Sunday Mirror: "If Richard had been a few seconds slower getting out he would have been incinerated." A witness who filmed the moment Hammond crashed said: "He crashed into the speed limit sign and off the road into the field below. He went down the hill about five or six metres.
"I would have been there about 20 seconds after the crash. The car was already burning. I saw fire. It was at the front. The car had done a 180-degree turn."
Apprentice engineer David, who did not wish to give his surname, added: "I saw the driver getting out of the car, the door was open. In fact, I don’t think the door was even there. That’s the reason he could get out so fast. There was a spectator who helped him get away from the car.
"Ten seconds later and a fireman was already running down to the burning car. There were explosions, bangs – like fireworks. And dark smoke. Poisonous fumes from the burning plastics."
It is still unknown what caused the crash during a practice run for the Hemberg Hill Climb. There is also an investigation underway into what made the Rimac Concept One burst into flames as it carries no fuel.
354km/h electric marvel
The Rimac Concept One has a price tag of £2 million (R32m) and only eight are thought to have been made.
It has a top speed of 354km/h and can accelerate from 0-60mph (96km/h) in 2.4 seconds.
Croatian manufacturer Rimac Automobili calls it the first all-electric hypercar.
Lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide batteries power four electric motors, one driving each wheel.
It has a range of around 350km on one charge.
The body is carbon fibre and safety features include traction control and ‘safety disconnect systems’ in case of a crash.