Even if you’re not an avid follower of Formula One, you’ll have likely seen or heard about the horrific crash at last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix. Romain Grosjean, driving for the Haas F1 Team, hit the barriers head-on at 138 mph (221 km/h), ripping the car in two and triggering a fireball not seen in F1 for decades. The crash was a shock to all, and Grosjean — who escaped with burns to his hands — was forced to sit out the final two races of the season.
Although his F1 career had its ups and downs, pre-inferno, there was no doubt he’d find a seat in another series away from F1. But after such a horrific crash, you wouldn’t blame him for perhaps wanting to take up a more sedate lifestyle. Stamp collecting, perhaps. But it turns out Romain isn’t ready to hang up his fireproof racing gloves just yet — granted, he’ll be needing a new set.
In 2021, Grosjean will race for Dale Coyne Racing in the NTT IndyCar Series. However, the Bahrain crash hasn’t gone without changing Grosjean’s approach. The Frenchman will compete on IndyCar’s street and road courses, but won’t be tackling the oval circuits any time soon.
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“For a moment, I thought I was dead, in Bahrain,” explained Romain on Twitch. “Being a father of three kids, I need to be sensible in my decisions, in my choices in the future, and at the minute I don’t feel comfortable to race ovals — at least the speedways.”
IndyCar’s last fatality occurred in 2015 at the Pocono Raceway, claiming ex-F1 racer Justin Wilson’s life. Four years earlier, two-time Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon was killed at the Las Vegas Speedway in a high-speed crash that saw his car fly into the catch fence.
However, Indycar has made advances in driver safety since, and in 2020 saw the introduction of an alternative to F1’s “Halo“: the Aeroscreen. Regardless, it’ll be good to see Grosjean join the series, furthering his career, and maintaining a drive on his terms.
Team owner Dale Coyne said in a press release: “We’ve been talking to Romain for some time now, even before his accident at Bahrain. He has shown interest in the IndyCar series for the past several months, and we’re very happy that he has chosen to pursue his career with us and are excited to welcome a driver with his pedigree.”
Grojean’s first race is scheduled to take place on the 18th of April at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama.