In an emotional return to F1, Romain Grosjean will turn the wheel of an F1 car for the first time since his dramatic accident at the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix, when he drives Lewis Hamilton’s World-Championship-winning W10 at the Circuit Paul Ricard next month. Romain’s escape from the burning wreck of his Haas car captured worldwide attention in November 2020 and the 35-year old was fortunate to escape with only severe burns to his hands. Despite his valiant efforts to recover, Romain was ruled out of the final two races of the season; it appeared the door was closing on a storied F1 career spanning 179 starts and 10 podiums.
Yet in the aftermath of his accident, Toto Wolff made a commitment to Romain that his crash would not be his final act in F1. True to his word, Toto invited Romain to the Mercedes F1 base in Brackley on 30 March to undergo a seat fit and spend time on the team’s simulator in preparation for a specially-organised test at the Frenchman’s home circuit on 29 June – seven months to the day since his accident. He will also take part in a series of demo laps ahead of the French Grand Prix on Sunday 27 June.
This season, Romain is competing in the IndyCar series for Dale Coyne Racing with RWR. The Mercedes-AMG W10 EQ Power+ he will be driving in France took 15 wins, 10 pole positions and set nine fastest laps between both drivers during the 2019 season, with Lewis winning the Drivers’ Championship and the team taking the Constructors’ title that year.
Romain Grosjean: “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. Reading that news cheered me up a lot! F1 didn’t get the chance to race in France during 2020 because of COVID 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“.
Toto Wolff: “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 One, and we didn’t want his accident to be his last moment in an F1 car. I have known Romain since his days in Formula Three when he won the Championship. 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 reminds 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“.
Lewis Hamilton: “I’m really happy to see Romain back in an F1 car after his accident last year. When it happened, we were all praying for him and seeing him walk away from it and recover so well was a massive relief. I’m looking forward to seeing him again in France and welcoming him to the team for the weekend – although he better look after my W10!“.