While the official response is that Andretti Autosport has yet to confirm its 2022 Indycar line-up, rumors abound that the ink has already dried on Romain Grosjean’s contract with the team for the 2022 season. He’ll take Ryan Hunter-Reay’s seat, who’s already announced his departure. Just what does this mean?
Well, a few things.
First and foremost, Grosjean performed well this year. The Swiss born driver currently sits 15th in the championship, despite missing all but one of the oval events. He took pole position at the GMR Grand Prix, held on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the middle of May. In his rookie Indycar year, the former Formula 1 driver stood on the podium twice, scored three top-fives and five top-tens. And, as a result, got the attention of multiple teams, including one of the big three: Andretti Autosport.
Moving to a big team indicates that he enjoyed his first oval experience and feels ready to compete in the full season next year, including the Indianapolis 500. And that means his desire to win the Indycar championship surmounted his apprehension to race on ovals. Indycar fans should applaud that because in his first oval event held at Gateway Raceway his great drive was only dampened by an unfortunately timed pit stop that immediately preceded a yellow flag, which put him a lap down.
It also means that he continues his burgeoning relationship with Honda. A former competitor of his in Formula 1, the Japanese brand supplies engines to both Dale Coyne Racing, his current team, and Andretti Autosport. And maintaining a good relationship with a manufacturer is the greatest asset in racing.
But perhaps most important, Indycar needs more driver’s like Romain Grosjean. He’s experienced, a family man, a gentleman, and properly quick.
His story is one of overcoming adversity. Initially arriving in Formula 1 with Renault in 2009, he lost that seat at the end of the year. Instead of shrugging his shoulders and finding another series, he returned to the junior formula categories to show his resolve. He went on to win the GP2 Championship in 2011 to prove his speed. That brought him back to Formula 1 from 2012 to 2020 with multiple teams. In that time, he finished on the podium 10 times. His last F1 start certainly proved the most momentous, as it ended on lap one with fiery, high-speed crash. He escaped the ablaze wrecked car burned and limping, but alive.
While that accident badly burned his hands, it gave him a new and deeper appreciation of life, one he reflects to anyone that meets him today. In short, Romain Grosjean knows he’s lucky to have the opportunity to race and relishes it.
As Indycar fans, we should relish that he’s committed to race for us for the an upcoming full season. Fingers crossed the rumors are true.