Newsbeat

Double amputee Billy Monger still counts himself 'lucky'

Billy Monger in his wheelchair looking at the camera

This time last year Billy Monger was an aspiring racing driver dreaming of competing in Formula 1.

But two weeks before his 18th birthday, he was involved in a near-fatal crash while racing in Formula 4 at Donnington Park.

Remarkably, despite losing both legs at the age of 17, Billy still says he counts himself "lucky".

"I could easily not be here," he tells Newsbeat. "My crash would just have been seen as a tragic accident."

Almost a year after the crash, his aim is still to become a Formula 1 driver - but his reasoning is now a little different than before.

"Now I can make a difference to prove that even after something like that you can still go on to achieve good things," he says.

He hopes to make history by becoming the first amputee to race at motorsport's highest level.

"This accident has taught me that if there's something I want to achieve, life isn't going to wait around for me to figure out when I'm ready to do it.

"I'm just glad to have got this second opportunity to race again and to show what I'm made of," he says.

While in a coma for three days, doctors took the decision to remove both of Billy's legs below the knee.

Image caption Billy feels like he's got a second opportunity

"Waking up to find out my legs had been amputated was difficult to say the least," Billy tells us.

"But I'm grateful that it was done without me having any inkling into what had happened."

Billy now uses a wheelchair but has also been learning to walk on two new prosthetic legs.

"Weirdly I probably have more challenges in daily life getting around on my legs than I do in the car racing."

'I could hear screaming'

Reliving the seconds after the crash, Billy says he initially didn't think his injuries were that serious.

"I knew it was a big crash but I was still awake in the car, at the time I didn't feel any pain.

"I could hear the guy that I'd hit screaming in his car so the first thing I said when the medics came was 'Go and look after him'."

Image caption Billy's used to travelling at speeds of up to 150mph

Less than 11 weeks after his accident, Billy was back behind the wheel in a specially-adapted car.

He says the support of friends and family as well as some F1 megastars helped him in his recovery.

"Lewis Hamilton invited us to the British Grand Prix, which he won, so that was obviously a great race to be a part of.

"I really enjoyed getting to know Lewis personally, telling him about my interests and what I wanted to do, he was fully supportive," he says.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Billy got support from Britain's most decorated F1 driver ever

Billy is now back racing in single-seater vehicles and is hoping to get enough sponsorship to earn a place in Formula 3 this year.

But his long-term aim is to join his idol Hamilton in Formula 1.

"Obviously F1 has always been the dream since I was eight. I'd like to think that dream is still alive, I don't see any reason why F1 can't be achievable.

"Obviously there's a long way to go, I've still got to prove to myself and to others that I deserve to be given a chance."

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