Richard Hammond has admitted to suffering from depression since the car crash that nearly killed him in 2006.

The Top Gear presenter made a miraculous recovery in 2006 after his jet-powered dragster careered off an airfield at speeds of up to 288 mph, spending a matter of weeks in hospital in Leeds rather than the many months predicted.

But despite his return to presenting, Hammond told the Sunday Times he has suffered "mortally from depression" since the accident.

"I damaged all the complicated bits of the brain to do with processing and emotional control," he explained.

"I had to relearn things from scratch. I'll still have a week when I'm freaking out about something and I'll realise it's because I'm encountering a new emotional state and I have to evolve a new strategy to cope with it."

It had been announced after the crash in September 2006 that Hammond had suffered a "significant brain injury", though his condition was soon upgraded to "stable".

He was moved to a hospital in Bristol to be nearer his family just over a week after the accident and in mid-November of that year Hammond got behind the wheel of a car for the first time since crashing the Vampire dragster, before returning to the BBC motoring show in January 2007.

But despite his largely successful recovery, Hammond said he "talks regularly with his psychiatrist" and has struggled with spatial awareness and memory.

"My memory is a lot better but the other day I forgot the Pin numbers to all my cards. All of them. Completely gone," he admitted.

According to the 39-year-old presenter, his brain is "as mended as it's likely to be".

25/02/2008 10:34:03