After months of rumors and nothing short of a miracle, Romain Grosjean has made the switch to the NTT IndyCar Series after nine years of Formula 1 competition in a road and street course program with Dale Coyne Racing.
Grosjean will pilot the No. 51 in fourteen of the eighteen races on the calendar, with the team scheduled to announce a driver for the four oval events at a later date.
The Frenchman hasn’t set foot in a car since his fiery crash on 29 November at the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix, narrowly escaping the blaze with only burns on his hands. After such a horrifying accident, Grosjean said it took some convincing of his three children to let him race again.
“We started chatting about it and they asked a lot of questions about the safety in the cars, the speed, and I told them as much as I could,” Grosjean told The Associated Press.
“Then I got them involved in designing my helmet and the oldest one, Sasha, I was training my neck the other day and he came and said ‘Daddy, I am happy you are training your neck. That means you are going racing.’
“It was a very small sentence for him, but it was a lot of meaning for me.”
Now with his family’s blessing, Grosjean is ready to get behind the wheel once again.
“I had different options in front of me for this coming season and choosing to go IndyCar racing was definitively my favorite one.” Grosjean said.
“Although, I’m not ready yet to take on the ovals! IndyCar has a much more level playing field than what I have been used to in my career so far. It will be exciting to challenge for podiums and wins again. My left hand is still healing, but we are just about ready to get back into the race car and to start this next chapter of my career.”
Grosjean is expected to get behind the wheel for the first time since his wreck at a 22 February test at Barber Motorsports Park, and is confident that he will be able to wear racing gloves again without fear of disrupting the scabbing by that time.
Team owner Dale Coyne stated his excitement over the addition of the Frenchman, stating that their deal has been a long time in the making.
“We’ve been talking to Romain for some time now, even before his accident at Bahrain,” Coyne said.
“He has shown interest in the NTT IndyCar Series for the past several months and we’re very happy that he has chosen to pursue his career with us and excited to welcome a driver with his pedigree to America, the Series and our team. We feel that he’ll be a force to be reckoned with in the Series.”
Coyne is also welcoming Rick Ware and Rick Ware Racing as a co-entrant for this car. Known for their entries in NASCAR, IMSA, and the Asian Le Mans Series, RWR also put together an entry for James Davison in the 2020 Indianapolis 500. Both Coyne and RWR will look to continue their partnership to put another entry together for the 2021 Indianapolis 500 as well as other select races on the calendar that are yet to be determined.
“We’re thrilled to be entering our first full season of NTT IndyCar Series racing with Dale Coyne Racing, and to have a driver of the caliber of Romain Grosjean to run the street and road courses makes it that much more exciting for us.” Ware said.
“We’re looking forward to this season.”
Since joining Formula 1 in 2013 with Lotus F1 Team, Grosjean amassed ten podium finishes with a career best of second twice. He moved to Haas F1 Team in 2016 and was not retained by the team for the 2021 season, with the Bahrain blaze putting an abrupt end to his career in the discipline.
Grosjean was also the winner of the 2011 GP2 (now known as F2) championship by a wide margin of thirty-five points. He will join 2017 IndyCar Rookie of the Year Ed Jones, who was announced as the pilot of Coyne’s entry with Vasser-Sullivan.
The thirty-four-year-old Frenchman will make his debut at the season-opening Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on 18 April at the aforementioned Barber Motorsports Park.