When Romain Grosjean left Formula 1 in 2020 (after walking away from a horrific crash at Bahrain) and made his way to IndyCar, he did so with a plan: He would compete on road courses and street circuits, but ovals were a no-go for the European driver. Then, for the 2022 season, one thing changed his mind: His kids.
“They asked me why I wasn’t doing the race that was turning around, around, around in 2021,” Grosjean told Jalopnik in an interview. “I said, ‘Well, there’s a bit more risk involved, and I don’t want you to be in front of the TV and see bad things.’”
But Grosjean’s children — Sacha, Simon, and Camille — continued to ask why their father wasn’t competing on those oval tracks. He talked to his wife, Marion, about it. She was on board with him trying ovals.
“So, I said, ‘Okay, let’s give it a go. Let’s get a big team and try to win the championship,’” Grosjean said.
The Andretti Autosport driver has only tackled two ovals so far this season, and his performance has left something to be desired. But final results don’t tell the whole story. A 26th-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway came down to a faulty motor, and he crashed during the 2022 Indy 500. In both races, Grosjean showed speed and skill at navigating the unique demands of oval racing, qualifying 13th in Texas and ninth at Indy.
Now, though, Grosjean admits he’s actually looking forward to upcoming oval races at Iowa and Gateway.
Oval racing, he told Jalopnik, “is more complicated than it looks. Races are usually very long, and I need to learn when to be patient, when to be opportunistic. It’s much more complicated than it looks on TV, where you just turn left and go flat!”