To say that expectations were tempered when Romain Grosjean announced he’d be moving from Formula One to the IndyCar series would be something of an understatement. The French-Swiss driver was still recovering from a fiery crash at the Bahrain circuit, and he wasn’t moving into a top IndyCar team. But with his first pole position ahead of the GMR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, Grosjean has shown himself to be more than capable of legitimate competition.
When he was asked how it felt to be competitive again, Grosjean held nothing back. “It’s like being alive again,” he said. “The days that I completely forgot about is when you get to race weekend, you got those butterflies because you know if you do everything right, you may end up on pole or trying to win the race. That’s definitely something I had no chance to do over the last few years.”
Grosjean’s last pole position came a full decade ago during a GP2 event. And making the accomplishment even sweeter, this comes just six months after his horrifying crash at Bahrain, where his F1 car split in half and burst into flames.
Grosjean went on to talk about the nature of Formula One when compared to other forms of racing, noting that, “You know when you get to Formula 1 if you don’t have the best car, it’s going to be very unlikely that you get to win races.”
While IndyCar has been criticized for mandating more spec-based components than the top tier of European open-wheel, it does provide for some undeniably exceptional results. Yes, there are IndyCar teams that are more dominant than others, and there are often clear favorites for the championship—but there are still opportunities throughout the season for an underdog to triumph.
And that’s certainly what’s happening with Grosjean this weekend. His No. 51 car is a collaboration between Dale Coyne Racing and Rick Ware Racing, neither of which are exactly front-running teams. Grosjean, though, was still fast on merit in a field that has been incredibly close this weekend.
The GMR Grand Prix takes place today at 2pm ET on NBC.
- Romain Grosjean, 1:09.4396
- Josef Newgarden, 1:09.5665
- Jack Harvey, 1:09.6528
- Alex Palou, 1:09.7118
- Scott McLaughlin, 1:09.7140
- Conor Daly, 1:09.8662
- Rinus Veekay, 1:09.8185
- Colton Herta, 1:09.8222
- Ed Jones, 1:09.8548
- Simon Pagenaud, 1:09.8722