Romain Grosjean, the Formula One racer who has committed to a new career in the NTT IndyCar Series’ road and street course events in 2021 – and could take on ovals when he’s had the opportunity to sample them – left Formula one without being able to end his stay with the balance of the 2020 field.
Grosjean’s horrifying accident at the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix, where his Haas F1 race car pierced the barrier and erupted into flames, slammed the door shut on F1 for the French/Swiss national after nine years in F1, driving for Renault, Lotus and Haas, and acquiring 10 podium results. It also hastened his change to the Indy cars, where he is currently racing with Dale Coyne Racing with RWR (Rick Ware Racing). With only two races under his belt thus far in the 2021 season, Grosjean has a single top-10 result.
The tug of Formula 1 is still huge for Grosjean and he’s going to have the opportunity to close that part of his career this June, thanks to an offer from Mercedes-Benz’ AMG Petronas Formula One Team. While Grosjean was in the recovery phase in hospital, he received a promise from Toto Wolff of an opportunity to drive a Mercedes F1 car and ensure his accident wasn’t the end of his F1 story.
To honor that promise, Wolff has arranged for Grosjean to drive Lewis Hamilton’s 2019 championship-winning W10 in a full test day at Circuit Paul Ricard, scheduled for June 29th, exactly seven months to the day since his accident. Prior to that he’ll drive the W10 for a series of demonstration laps at the French Grand Prix on June 27. The seat fitting has already occurred, as Grosjean went to Mercedes F1’s base at Brackley in March to conduct that exercise.
The W10 EQ Power+ that Wolff and Mercedes F1 Team is making available to Grosjean, propelled the team to 15 wins, 10 pole positions and set nine fastest laps between both drivers, Hamilton and Vallteri Bottas, during the 2019 season, with Hamilton earning the Drivers’ Championship and the team taking the Constructors’ title that year.
“I am so excited to jump back in an F1 car!” Grosjean exclaimed. “It will be a special opportunity for me and to drive a world championship-winning Mercedes will be a unique experience. I’m very grateful to Mercedes F1 and to Toto for the opportunity. The first I heard about the chance to drive a Mercedes was in my hospital bed in Bahrain, when Toto was speaking to the media and made the invitation. Reading that news cheered me up a lot,” he confirmed.
“F1 didn’t get the chance to race in France during 2020 because of COVID, so driving a Mercedes at the French Grand Prix in 2021, and then completing a test at the Circuit Paul Ricard, my home track, will be so special. I can’t wait for the day to arrive.”
While waiting for his own midsummer classic, Grosjean will have plenty on his plate, competing with INDYCAR at the GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 15th, in the doubleheader Chevrolet Detroit Grands Prix on Belle Isle June 12-13 and in the Rev Group Grand Prix on the US’s seminal Road America road course June 20th before heading to Europe and this special occasion.
Wolff acknowledged the team wanted to give Grosjean this opportunity. “The idea first came when it looked like Romain would be ending his active career in Formula One, and we didn’t want his accident to be his last moment in an F2 car. I have known Romain since his days in Formula Three, when he won the championship,” Wolf said. “We wanted to make sure that his final memories would be at the wheel of a championship-winning car. I’m excited to see what Romain’s feedback on the W10 is.
“Romain’s accident reminds us of the dangers these guys face each time they climb into the cockpit, but it’s also a testament to the incredible steps this sport has taken to improve safely over the years. I know the F1 community will celebrate seeing Romain back on track.”
Formula One continues its 2021 season this weekend with the Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona.