Former Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean is set to return with a special one-off test for Mercedes, as he was promised late in the 2020 season.
Romain Grosjean’s Formula 1 career came to a fiery end in last November’s Bahrain Grand Prix at Bahrain International Circuit. A nasty first-lap crash left him with burns to his hands that prevented him from competing in the season’s final two races.
By that point, it had already been announced that he would not be back with Haas for the 2021 season, as the sport’s lone American team confirmed a full lineup overhaul, adding rookies Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin to replace Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen.
Before he knew for sure that he wouldn’t be able to compete in another Formula 1 race, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff promised him that he would be able to drive for Mercedes in a test at some point if he did not get to finish off his career on his own terms.
Grosjean, now an IndyCar driver in the road and street course races for Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing, is set to get that chance next month.
On Tuesday, June 29, seven months after that harrowing crash, the 35-year-old Frenchman is set to drive Lewis Hamilton’s 2019 championship-winning W10 in a full-day test at Circuit Paul Ricard, the site of the French Grand Prix.
The French Grand Prix is scheduled to take place on Sunday, June 27, and before that race, Grosjean is also set to pilot the W10 for a series of demonstration laps. He already completed a seat fit and simulator session at the Silver Arrows’ Brackley factory back on Tuesday, March 30, two days after the 2021 season opened at the same location where his career ended.
Here is what he had to say about this opportunity, according to Formula 1.
“I am so excited to jump back in an F1 car! It will be a special opportunity for me and to drive a world championship-winning Mercedes will be a unique experience. I’m very grateful to Mercedes F1 and to Toto for the opportunity. The first I heard about the chance to drive a Mercedes was in my hospital bed in Bahrain when Toto was speaking to the media and made the invitation. Read that news cheered me up a lot!
“F1 didn’t get the chance to race in France during 2020 because of COVID[-19], so driving a Mercedes at the French Grand Prix in 2021 and then completing a test at the Circuit Paul Ricard, my home track, will be so special. I can’t wait for the day to arrive.”
Here is what Wolff had to say about ensuring Grosjean’s Formula 1 career ends on a high note.
“We are very happy to support Romain with this special opportunity. The idea first came when it looked like Romain would be ending his active career in Formula 1, and we didn’t want his accident to be his last moment in an F1 car.
“He enjoyed a long and successful F1 career and we wanted to make sure that his final memories would be at the wheel of a championship-winning car. I’m excited to see what Romain’s feedback on the W10 is.
“Romain’s accident remind us of the dangers these guys face each time they climb into the cockpit but it’s also a testament to the incredible steps this sport has taken to improve safety over the years. I know the F1 community will celebrate seeing Romain back on track.”
Before then, Grosjean has four IndyCar races in which to compete, including one at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course later this month, two on the streets of Belle Isle in mid-June, and one at Road America the week before his Mercedes test.