By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
The worst kept secret was confirmed Wednesday morning as long-time Formula One veteran Romain Grosjean will compete in the NTT IndyCar Series for Dale Coyne Racing’s No. 51 Honda on all 13 road and street course races.
Grosjean, who had spent the last five seasons at Hass F1 Team, will run the team’s second entry that’ll be backed by Rick Ware Racing. Thus, becoming the latest ex-F1 racer to compete in IndyCar much like Max Chilton and Marcus Ericsson have been doing the past few years.
“I’m very excited for this opportunity to race in the United States in the NTT IndyCar Series,” said Grosjean. “I had different options in front of me for this coming season and choosing to go IndyCar Racing was definitively my favorite one.
“Although, I’m not ready yet to take on the ovals! IndyCar has a much more level playing field than what I have been used to in my career so far. It will be exciting to challenge for podiums and wins again. My left hand is still healing, but we are just about ready to get back into the race car and to start this next chapter of my career.”
By the time the season opener at Barber Motorsports Park commences on April 18th, it’ll be the 34-year-old Frenchman’s first major race since his horrific Lap 1 crash at the Bahrain Grand Prix last November.
He sustained burns on both his hands which ultimately ended his F1 career as former DCR driver Pietro Fittipaldi took over the Haas entry for the final two rounds at Sakhir and Abu Dhabi.
Due to this, Grosjean confirmed during the Twitch stream that it’s one of the motivating factors why he won’t be running the three oval races, including the 105th Indianapolis 500, which will be piloted by someone else.
NASCAR Cup Series and sports car racer Cody Ware has been rumored to run the No. 51 machine, but the team’s press release indicate it’ll be determined at a later time.
However, should the polarizing 25-year-old become the team’s oval racer, he’ll look to become the first driver since Kurt Busch in 2014 to run both the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 in the same year. For now, Cody’s father Rick Ware is thrilled of being a part of the effort with Grosjean.
“We’re thrilled to be entering our first full season of NTT INDYCAR SERIES racing with Dale Coyne Racing,” said Rick Ware. “To have a driver of the caliber of Romain Grosjean to run the street and road courses makes it that much more exciting for us. We’re looking forward to this season.”
Dale Coyne confirmed talks about bringing Grosjean to North America have been going on prior to his accident and is pleased he’ll make the move to become teammates with Ed Jones, who’ll make his return to the series as well.
“He has shown interest in the NTT IndyCar Series for the past several months and we’re very happy that he has chosen to pursue his career with us and excited to welcome a driver with his pedigree to America, the Series and our team,” said Coyne. “We feel that he’ll be a force to be reckoned with in the Series.”
In his nine seasons competing in F1, he scored all 10 of his podiums with Lotus F1 Team, including two runner-up finishes at Montreal in 2012 and COTA in 2013. His last podium took place at Spa-Francorchamps in 2015, which marked his last year with the team before making the move to Haas.
From 2016-2020, Grosjean only ended up scoring in the top half of the points table twice with a fifth at Bahrain in 2016 and a fourth in Austria two years later.
Haas F1 Team will have two new drivers on the 2021 grid with Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin behind the wheel. Grosjean’s former teammate from 2017-2020 Kevin Magnussen is currently running in IMSA full-time with Chip Ganassi Racing.
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