IndyCar: Is Romain Grosjean suddenly driving for his career?

Romain Grosjean, Andretti Autosport, IndyCar (Photo Credit: Detroit Free Press)
Romain Grosjean, Andretti Autosport, IndyCar (Photo Credit: Detroit Free Press) /

Romain Grosjean opened up the 2023 IndyCar season looking like a championship contender. He now finds himself on pace for a worse season than last year.

Romain Grosjean nearly beat a full-time Team Penske driver to the IndyCar Rookie of the Year honors in 2021, despite the fact that he was a part-time driver who only competed in 13 of the 16 races on the schedule. One of the three races he missed was the double points Indy 500.

That was when he with Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing. In 2022, he made the move to Andretti Autosport, where he was immediately viewed as a driver who could compete for race wins and championships.

The former Formula 1 driver’s first year behind the wheel of the No. 28 Honda did not go according to plan. He scored just one podium finish compared to the three he scored in 2021, and he just barely finished higher in the championship standings than he did as a rookie, despite running the full schedule for the first time in his career.

The 2023 season started out looking much, much differently. He took the pole position for the season opener on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida and probably would have won the race if not for an overambitious defending move by that same Team Penske driver, Scott McLaughlin.

He then crashed out at Texas Motor Speedway after unexpectedly leading a few laps, but he seemed to get back on the right track with back-to-back runner-up finishes on the streets of Long Beach, California and at Barber Motorsports Park, the latter of which from pole.

The question was when, not if, Romain Grosjean’s first IndyCar win would come. A new contract wasn’t even viewed as a question.

But Grosjean has since plummeted to 13th place in the standings, which is where he finished last year, with no additional top 10 finishes. Total points-wise, he is now on pace for a worse finish than he had in a disappointing 2022 campaign.

He crashed out of the Indy 500 for the second year in a row, he ended up in the runoff area during the street race in Detroit, Michigan before ultimately crashing due to suspension failure, and he ended up doing more off-road landscaping work at Road America that he did actually competing for position.

Is it possible that the second half of the season will determine whether or not his future is with Andretti Autosport?

Everybody seems to be operating under the assumption that Andretti Autosport will find a replacement for Devlin DeFrancesco behind the wheel of the No. 29 Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport entry next year.

DeFrancesco has not yet finished higher than 12th place since joining the team last year, and total points-wise, he too is on pace for a worse season that he had last year — even if you remove double points from the 2022 Indy 500.

Andretti Autosport have changed their lineup after each of the last four seasons, and that is likely to become five. Whether or not multiple changes are made could be key to the team’s future.

The 2023 season started out super promising for an Andretti Autosport widely perceived to have been full of untapped potential in recent years. Colton Herta looked like he was finally going to get a proper chance to compete for a championship, and Kyle Kirkwood was fast straight away with his new team.

But yet again, that stability is lacking, and posting consistent 24th and 25th place finishes isn’t helping the team’s overall development and growth.

On top of that, at 37 years old, Grosjean isn’t a driver who teams are going to necessarily want to build around, especially given his continued struggles to perform at one of the series’ better organizations.

He has shown good speed, and that can undoubtedly reward any team willing to sign him, but speed isn’t everything in racing, and if he can’t string together a few more good results, perhaps even a win, before the season ends, his future could be in question.

The No. 28 DHL Honda is one of the more coveted seats without a driver locked in through 2024, and he may have to prove he has earned the right to stay, especially given how stacked the impending free agent class looks.

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Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, where Grosjean placed seventh in 2021 and 22nd in 2022, is scheduled to host the next race on the 2023 IndyCar schedule, that being the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by the all new 2023 Civic Type R. The race is set to be broadcast live on USA Network starting at 1:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 2. Begin a free trial of FuboTV today and tune in!