Grosjean resets his expectations as he joins third IndyCar team in four years


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In his appearance at IndyCar’s pre-season press event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Wednesday, Romain Grosjean was introduced as a “five time race runner-up.”

While in no way intended as a backhanded compliment, that did reflect how frustratingly close the former Formula 1 driver has come to that breakthrough success in the series he has competed in since 2021.

But Grosjean’s prospects of ending that winless run look distinctly less promising now than they did 12 months ago. He split from Andretti at the end of last year and kept his place in IndyCar by joining the newer, smaller operation at Juncos Hollinger.

However, ahead of his fourth season in the series since leaving Formula 1, Grosjean said that he was “excited” to see what his newest team – one of the smallest in the current IndyCar field – will be capable of achieving this season.

Romain Grosjean, Coyne/Ware, IndyCar, 2021
Highlights in first IndyCar season included first pole position
“It’s the third [team] in four years, so I’m getting used to it,” Grosjean said. “Obviously it’s always a challenge. It’s always positive – there’s always things we need to adapt. But as I say, everyone is super open-minded.

“I’m excited to see what we can do together. I’m realistic of where we are and what we need to do. But it’s IndyCar and anything can happen on-track. We’ll make sure that we seize every opportunity that we can.”

Grosjean arrived in the series with the Dale Coyne team in 2021 following his departure from Haas and Formula 1 at the end of 2020. Despite not competing in any oval races through that first season, Grosjean secured his first pole position at the Indianapolis road course and took three podium finishes – one at each of the two races on that track, and another in the penultimate round of the year at Laguna Seca.

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His impressive exploits in his first year in the championship secured him a full-time drive with Andretti, one of IndyCar’s biggest teams. However, despite three more podium finishes over those two seasons, he was out-scored by team mates Alexander Rossi and Colton Herta in 2022 and again by Herta and Kyle Kirkwood last year. Grosjean finished in the top 10 only three times over the 17 rounds and retired due to mistakes or being caught up in accidents six times.

Start, IndyCar, St Petersburg, 2023
Victory chances slipped through Grosjean’s fingers in 2023
Andretti opted not to continue with the still win-less Grosjean for a third season, downsizing from a four car team to just three entries with the 37-year-old replaced by former F1 rival Marcus Ericsson, who won the Indianapolis 500 in 2022. Grosjean responded by pursuing legal action against Andretti, but while he naturally prefers not to speak of his grievance with his former team, he insists he has positive memories of being an Andretti driver.

“We tried and we had a lot of belief that we could fight for the championship, and we did not achieve that,” he said. “I had an amazing time with some great characters over the last two years, made a lot of good friends.

“But right now I’m more interested in focusing on 2024 and seeing what we can do with Juncos Hollinger Racing than moaning about the past. As I said, a lot of good friends up there, a lot of good times, a lot of good positions, podiums. It just didn’t play out our way. But the next chapter is the important one.”

Taking the seat formerly occupied by Callum Ilott at Juncos, Grosjean is back at a team of more modest resources for the second time in his stint in IndyCar.

“I think it’s positive working in both small teams and big teams,” he said. “For sure, a small team is a more family-based type of feeling. I really enjoy the Latin American […] type of relationship that we have with Ricardo [Juncos] and everyone in the team, that’s for sure.”

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However he admits that no longer being in one of the teams which were responsible for testing IndyCar’s soon-to-be-introduced hybrid systems stands to put them at a disadvantage when they arrive later this year.

“There’s also a lot of beauty about being in a bigger team. They are the ones selected by the manufacturers to do all the hybrid tests so they have got a lot more knowledge than we do on all of that. They have more research on certain things.

“But I’m definitely excited about what we have coming and very happy with everyone that I’ve met and everyone I’m going to work with.”

When it comes to projecting where he could be fighting in the field this season, Grosjean says he expects to have opportunities to fight for strong results from the start of the season.

“We’re definitely going to try to be in the top ten at first and then see if we can do top five and even more,” he said. “But step-by-step, we know where we are and we know where we want to go.

“I think we have to see where we start in St. Pete, in Thermal Club, and then see where we can move from there. I think success would be to improve and get better race after race, and see what we can do, see if we can get a decent Indy 500. That’s a big race in the year.”

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However after two appearances at IndyCar’s blue riband event, Grosjean is yet to record a finish. He was running 25th three-quarters of the way through last year’s race when he smacked the wall at turn two – the same place he crashed on his debut.

Grosjean admits it is still a learning process for him as he continues to search for that breakthrough success in the championship that he has come close to achieving a handful of times.

“It’s not easy,” he said. “The team is like, ‘okay, we need to rely on you in the Indy 500, and I’m like, ‘I’m going to be fair with you, I don’t know what a good car is. I can’t tell you.’ We have to learn together.

“As I say, top ten and top five would be awesome, try to be somewhere near that in the drivers’ championship by the end of the year and see what we can do. But definitely try to get every opportunity we can.”


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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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8 comments on “Grosjean resets his expectations as he joins third IndyCar team in four years”

  1. Romain seems to be one of those drivers that perform better when stakes aren’t that high. So I hope to see him returning to form. A small team like Juncos would appreciate it.

    That being said, he’s not really an improvement over what Juncos had in Callum.

  2. Grosjean seems to have made a career out of almost delivering. It’s now been almost a decade and a half since he last won a race in any category and people are still hiring him. Romain hints of talent in a career of mediocrity.

    1. “It’s now been almost a decade and a half since he last won a race in any category”
      What a silly statement. It’s been a decade since also Fernando Alonso won a race in either F1 or IndyCar.

  3. As much as I like Grosjean, and want to see him do well, I still can’t believe JHR got rid of Callum Ilott, who looked very impressive in what is far from a front running car, in order to get Romain in. I also don’t see what they have to gain from it, as I would expect Grosjean is asking for quite a bit more money than Ilott would, and is definitely starting to show his age (if last season is anything to go by), compared to Ilott who would have many more years in Indy ahead of him.

    1. They did not get rid of Ilott to make room for Grosjean. They hired Grosjean as the best available option after their relationship with Ilott irreparably fell apart.
      Oddly enough, Grosjean fell out with Andretti in a way not unlike the Juncos – Ilott divorce. We will see how this particular marriage works out, although it might help that Grosjean is not British given the uneasy history between Argentina and Britain re: Falkands and all that…

  4. Hind sight being 20/20, he should have stayed at Coyne as he seemed to have real chemistry going on there. I hope he gets his first win this season. He deserves it.

  5. Why do teams keep hiring this guy? He barely made it out of F1 alive and now he gets another go at Indy where he has already crashed out twice? The man is an uninsurable risk.

    1. Oh come on mate, you can’t be serious! :)

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