Marion Grosjean, Romain Grosjean, Haas, Bahrain International Circuit, 2020

Grosjean’s decision not to race ovals is a “family choice” after Bahrain crash


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Romain Grosjean says he won’t race ovals in his debut IndyCar season out of respect for his family following his crash in Bahrain last year.

However the former Formula 1 driver, who was badly burned his shocking crash last November, hasn’t ruled out the possibility of trying one oval race before the end of the year.

Grosjean confirmed today he will race for Coyne in the 13 races on this year’s IndyCar schedule which take place on road and street courses. He will stay away from IndyCar’s high-speed ovals for now following the distressed caused to his family by his crash.

“If I was 25 and single or even with no kids, I would be racing ovals, definitely,” said Grosjean. “Now it’s also a family choice. And on 29th of November 2020, for two minutes and 45 seconds, three kids thought they had lost their dad and my wife thought she had lost her husband.

“The idea of putting them back to that situation, really, I can’t take it.”

IndyCar is scheduled to hold four races on ovals this year. The Indianapolis 500 and double-header at Texas Motor Speedway will see average lap speeds of 350-370kph. However the fourth oval race, at Gateway, takes place on a much shorter track where average lap speeds are less than 300kph.

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Grosjean said he will discuss with team owner Dale Coyne whether he might race at Gateway. “The speedways, at the minute no,” he explained, “but I am not saying 100% no to Gateway. We’ve been speaking with Dale and I’ve said let’s see how the season goes and if we can do some testing on a short track, see how it goes.

Start, Road America, IndyCar, 2020
Start, Road America, IndyCar, 2020
“So it’s not a 100% yes or 100% no. But for now, I just need to look after my family in the speedways.”

Grosjean said his family understand and support his return to racing. “For the kids and my wife, they understand that I am a racer at heart and that’s what I really love doing and that one day I will I will be done with motorsport but it’s not quite yet and still have the wish to go racing,” he said in response to a question from RaceFans.

“The kids, I got them involved quite a fair bit into the helmet design and choosing the number and so on and they they were very happy.”

Grosjean’s helmet design for his IndyCar season will feature a phoenix in reference to his fiery crash. “The other day I was I was training my neck on the sofa, with a very heavy Bell helmet that I have, 7.5 kilos or so. And my oldest son, Sacha came and he says, ‘Oh daddy, you’re training your neck, I’m happy.’

“It was a small sentence for him but it meant a lot for me just because he was happy that I was training to go racing again.”

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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  • 15 comments on “Grosjean’s decision not to race ovals is a “family choice” after Bahrain crash”

    1. I’m a bit naive when it comes to IndyCar (and about three other things, but no more than that, I’m sure), how does it work with his entry? Is it as simple Coyne just put someone else in the car for the oval races, Grosjean only collects the points for his and the other driver likewise? Is this a common occurrence?

      And obviously best of luck to him, it’d be nice if his career wasn’t remembered for what happened in Bahrain.

      1. Not an expert here. But I think is, at least, common to them to have some drivers that only drive in road-city tracks and other that only drive in ovals.

      2. @bernasaurus Yes, the car is the entity entered, so it is indeed as simple as putting someone else in the car, provided they meet IndyCar’s licensing requirements. The drivers get drivers points no matter which car they drive. Last year, Conor Daly drove the ovals for Carlin and the road courses for Ed Carpenter Racing and collected drivers points for every round. The cars collect “entrants points” that determine which teams get prize money — the owners of each of the top 22 cars get equal $1 million payouts.

        Partial seasons or one-off entries have never gone away in IndyCar as they have in F1, but the oval/road course split is becoming more common in recent years — partly because some drivers want to avoid one or the other and partly because shrinking budgets require them to bring backing, and sometimes teams have to take on multiple drivers with funding for partial seasons. Sometimes teams will put in different drivers to maximize their entrants points, like A.J. Foyt Racing last season, when they hired Sebastian Bourdais to take over the No. 14 car for the last few races, in part, to ensure they’d make the top-22 cutoff.

        1. @markzastrow Thanks Mark, that’s really informative, I can’t imagine someone even daring to propose equal payouts in F1, but the thing I find most interesting is the figures involved, $22m is the total payout, the average F1 team would chew through that in a month.

      3. It is literally as simple as that, and shared drives are quite common, especially at teams with limited funding. The shared drives this season: at Chip Ganassi Racing Jimmie Johnson will drive the #48 at the road and street circuits while Tony Kanaan will drive the car on the ovals. Ed Carpenter Racing has done this for several years: Ed Carpenter drives the #20 on ovals while another driver drives the car on the road and street circuits; this season, as with last the other driver will be Conor Daly. At Carlin (assuming they are racing; I know they’ve been at testing but their plans haven’t been officially confirmed yet), the #59 will presumably be driven by Max Chilton at the road and street circuits and the Indy 500 while someone else will take his place for the other oval races.

        Any points the drivers collect go towards their own totals.

    2. Interesting fact: Romain Grosjean’s and Marion Grosjean’s names are complete anagrams of one-another’s.

      I thank you……

      1. Their names are also suitably anagrams of “major reasoning” ; )

      2. Jack (@jackisthestig)
        4th February 2021, 5:41

        Oooh very good.

    3. Thanks Dieter, really enjoying being a subscriber.

    4. Then stop racing… there’s alwaysa risk

      1. Yes, its alarming. He shouldnt be allowed to drive roadcars so many accident he has had. Lets just hope he stays safe!

      2. Play Among Us. 100% recommended for you. For real.

    5. Best of both worlds for the team. A fast reflex F1 driver for usual circuits, and a more gentle 35+ driver for ovals.

      But how long can Grosjean stay away of the Indy 500 fever? I bet if he stays, he’ll be training for it in the second year.

    6. Given the deaths we’ve seen in Indycar and Romain’s issues multiple times where he seems to just have a mental lapse and ends up in accidents… I worry about him racing on ovals. If it’s such a risk just stop racing mate. Go and enjoy life, I’m sure there’s a decent career to be had off the track and as an ex F1 driver.

    7. Good on him to think about family, his and others hopefully.

    Comments are closed.