Only a Few Months After A Fiery Crash, Romain Grosjean is Returning to Racing
April 6, 2021
On November 29, 2020, Romain Grosjean’s life changed forever. Just moments after the 2020 Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix had begun, it took a turn for the worse. Grosjean’s car clipped an opponent, and was sent into the armco barrier at 130 mph. The car burst into flames, and Grosjean found himself trapped in the inferno.
Rescue crews reacted quickly, attempting to put out the flames. Grosjean worked fast, throwing off his belts and climbing out of the burning car, emerging from the flames to be pulled to safety by crew members.
The crash looked worse than it was. Grosjean was escorted to an ambulance, and rushed to the hospital. His hands suffered severe burns, but he otherwise was in good shape, a testament to the safety of F1 cars. However, the injuries to his hands were enough to force him to sit out the last two races of the season.
Grosjean later told The Sun “I don’t know if the word miracle exists or if it can be used, but in any case I would say it wasn’t my time [to die].”
After the crash, the race was delayed for 80 minutes as work began to repair the armco barrier. When it resumed, most drivers simply wanted to finish it and go home, more concerned about their friend than winning. Seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton told Sky Sports that “When I get in the car, I know that I’m taking risks, and I respect the dangers that are in this sport. I posted about it [on Twitter] whilst we were in that break because it’s horrifying.”
Hamilton would go on to win the race, while Grosjean spent the next few days in the hospital.
Grosjean’s contract with Haas F1, the only American F1 team on the grid, was set to expire at the end of the season, his last race with both Haas, and in F1 was supposed to be the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yasmarina Circuit. Obviously, this didn’t happen.
After being involved in that crash, and with Grosjean’s F1 contract ending, many thought the father of three would retire from racing, and for a while it seemed like this would be so. Grosjean was quiet about his future racing endeavours, instead using his social media pages to update fans on the stability of his injuries.
On January 13th, Grosjean posted pictures to Instagram of his unbandaged hands, letting everyone know that he was healing and was ready to get on with his life. Optimism swept through the racing camp, and Grosjean was recovering well.
It had only been one day since the post before word leaked out that Romain Grosjean would likely be headed to Indycar, joining Dale Coyne Racing.
It may come as a surprise to most that, after being involved in a crash that very easily could have been fatal, Grosjean would want to continue racing. Racers, however, are a different breed. They accept the dangers of the sport every time they strap themselves in, and when injured in an accident, the first thing they normally ask is “When can I get back in the car?”
So it comes as no surprise that Grosjean is determined to continue his career, even after seeing his life flash before his eyes.
Before his crash in Bahrain, Grosjean had been in talks with AJ Foyt Racing regarding taking Dalton Kellet’s seat in IndyCar for 2021 but with the injuries Grosjean sustained, Foyt took the safer route and renewed Kellett’s contract for the season.
Despite word leaking out, it took several more weeks for the contract to be finalized. Every so often one of the two parties would say something along the lines of “we are very interested in him” or “I would enjoy competing in IndyCar,” but no concrete promises. Fans waited patiently.
Finally, on February 3rd, Dale Coyne announced that Grosjean would drive the #51 car, which is partnered with Rick Ware Racing, competing on the road and street courses on the schedule. Along with this announcement, Grosjean himself stated that, while he is not ready for ovals like the Indy 500 or the two doubleheaders at Texas, he has stated interest in running the oval at Gateway.
Grosjean showed his appreciation for the deal by saying “I’m very excited for this opportunity to race in the United States IndyCar Series,” and seemed eager to start racing again and learn a new type of car.
Coyne still has two seats that have yet to be announced. Both are cars partnered with Rick Ware Racing, making it clear that there will be more announcements to come.
Grosjean has his work cut out for him, and it will be interesting to see how he performs in his new series in 2021.