From defying death to IndyCar: Why Romain Grosjean still wants to race

Romain Grosjean, Haas, Formula 1 (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Romain Grosjean, Haas, Formula 1 (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images) /

Former Haas Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean is on the brink of an IndyCar contract for 2021 just two months after his life-changing accident at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Romain Grosjean, 34, is reportedly in discussions with Dale Coyne Racing about a potential contract for the 2021 IndyCar season, as reported by RACER earlier this month.

But after cheating death so vividly, having been immersed in a fireball on the opening lap of the Bahrain Grand Prix, why does he want to return to the cockpit at all?

Prior to the accident, it was confirmed that Grosjean and his former Haas Formula 1 teammate Kevin Magnussen would be relieved of their services for 2021.

Haas subsequently announced that Formula 2 champion Mick Schumacher and Russian racer Nikita Mazepin would replace the pair. So the attitude from both was to enjoy the remaining races of the 2020 season as best they could in a car that was slowest in the field.

But after the Frenchman’s death-defying accident, he had a very different attitude.

In an exclusive interview with Martin Brundle, he said that he told his wife and kids that he needed to jump back in the car, saying “guys, I am going to race in Abu Dhabi.”

Clearly, health did not allow that to happen. But the racing attitude that he has harnessed since his youth means that he believes that he must jump back on the horse to prove not only to himself but to the whole world that he still has what it takes.

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Grosjean was replaced by the grandson of two-time Formula 1 world champion Emerson Fittipaldi, Pietro, for the Sakhir Grand Prix and the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to close out the season.

On the weekend of the season finale in Abu Dhabi, Mercedes said that they would offer Grosjean a private test if he wanted to get back behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said: “If we are allowed to do this and nobody else in the universe of teams he has raced would provide him with such an opportunity, we would do this.”

But now he is looking beyond the world of Formula 1 and is seriously considering an IndyCar campaign, telling Ouest-France: “It’s a nice championship with good drivers. Is it a championship that I’m watching closely, yes.”

Dale Coyne has suggested that he would like to see the Frenchman join his outfit for the season, with discussions ongoing between the two of them.

But racing on ovals does make things complicated for Grosjean. It is no secret that oval racing does create an increased risk, and after his fireball experience last year, it could be possible that Grosjean sits out the four oval events if he does join Dale Coyne Racing.

He has described himself as “selfish” in wanting to satisfy his racing need, but anything that he agrees to will be done with the thoughts of his wife and two children at the forefront of his mind.

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Having said that, Sunday, November 29, 2020 was a very poignant moment in Romain Grosjean’s life. It could very well have been the day he died. After escaping from that accident, Grosjean wants to be known as more than the man who lived. He wants to prove his worth on the race track to himself and to all of us.