Grosjean on ‘jealous’ rivals, style throwback and Andretti F1 offering

It felt like Romain Grosjean’s IndyCar honeymoon ended abruptly in 2022.

He was the ricocheting phoenix that emerged from his fiery 2020 Bahrain Formula One shunt to become IndyCar’s most recent success story in 2021, as Dale Coyne bagged a pole position at Indianapolis and IndyCar’s most popular driver award was voted for by fans, in his rookie season.

In 2022, however, amid a string of early incidents, including a high-profile one at Barber, where Grosjean was fined for driving by Graham Rahal, and later a full on the Andretti team’s meltdown in Mid-Ohio When Alexander Rossi crashed into Grosjean three times, it felt like there had been a big shift.

The story had changed from “isn’t IndyCar great for ex-Formula 1 drivers” in 2021 to “Grosjean’s aggressive Formula 1 reputation precedes him”. Everything really got out of hand.

It certainly feels like Grosjean is wondering how his 2022 would have gone had he not had such a rapid rise the year before and experienced the “jealousy” it may have caused.

“I think there was a bit of envy out there because I’m from Europe and I was voted favorite driver by the fans. At times I almost hoped that vote didn’t happen just because I think it put some kind of target on my back,” Grosjean tells The Race in an exclusive interview.

“I got a really good spot at Andretti, DHL is a cult sponsor at IndyCar so I think some guys were a little jealous of that.

“There were some (negative) comments from not even a handful (of riders).

“I think it got better as the year went on. If we take Alexander Rossi, we’re actually good friends now after the incident.

“We sort of cleared the air and actually got a lot closer than before. So things are good.

“I still love racing in the USA and am still happy to be here.

“Obviously I’m on a big team now. So I’m here to try and win the championship.

“You change a little bit when you come and don’t do all the races, people are quite friendly to you.

“Obviously when you start doing all the races and try to get the championship things are a little different.

“But it’s still very good that way. It’s still a good atmosphere that I really enjoy. We’re competitors, everyone wants to win, but we’re also like colleagues and friends, so I really enjoyed that.”

Romain Grosjean Firestone Monterey Grand Prix By Travis Hinkle Unwatermarked reference image M70338

Grosjean’s first season came with Dale Coyne – a brilliant team but one with a fraction of the resources of some of its much larger rivals – and there he actually performed better in many key categories than he did in his sophomore year at Andretti.

Grosjeans 2021 vs 2022
2021 2022
Run 13 17
rods 1 0
podiums 3 1
top 5 1 2
top 10 2 4
Fastest laps 1 0
Average start 9.3 (7th) 10:47 (6th)
Average finish 12.69 (12th) 13.71 (13th)
points per race 20.92 (10th) 19.29 (13th)

Not only Grosjean had to quickly embed himself in Andretti, but also his engineer Olivier Boisson, who came with him from Coyne. But once they got there, it was clear it was going to be tough for them.

“I think I got lucky with Dale Coyne, the car suited my driving style really well,†explains Grosjean.

“There were some weaknesses, but it went well for my driving style.

“With Andretti there were some really great strengths in the car, such as the rear grip. Andretti has amazing rear grip, which is fantastic if you like understeer, but I don’t like understeer, that’s common knowledge.

“I just can’t take advantage of my driving style if it’s understeering.

“So we had to get the front end feel back to me, that I had a Dale Coyne that I really liked, and it took us longer than we expected.

“Well yeah, that just took a little longer than we wanted.

“We also had some issues with the car with a problem with the brakes that didn’t help. That’s how we had it in Indy, Toronto, Road America.

“Lost a lot of points in Nashville when Newgarden crashed into me.

“So yeah, I definitely don’t mean what we wanted, but I think it’s been a good season in terms of character building and better understanding of IndyCar.

“I’m actually quite relaxed about the coming season. I know I can do well on ovals, I know I can do well on street circuits and city circuits.

“So now it’s about putting the final pieces of the puzzle together and being competitive again every weekend.

‘A lot of work has already been done on Andretti. I think last year we didn’t have the best season for the team in general.

“So a lot happened over the winter. I know there is much more work to be done and a lot of different work has been done. In addition, my engineer Olivier was with the team for a whole year, so he was able to familiarize himself a little more during the break.

Romain Grosjean Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey by James Black Unwatermarked reference image M70175

“I think everyone obviously said the same thing. Everyone is excited. In winter everyone has found plenty of space. You hear that at the beginning of the season, but I hope it’s true for us.â€‌

It’s clear Andretti has worked hard to improve his fortunes during the off-season.

As much criticism as there may have been for Grosjean and his form in 2022, Andretti’s efforts as a team weren’t much better, with Colton Herta and Rossi scoring just 53 points more (with 50 for an IndyCar win) than their teammate and finishing the championship with one win each, equal on points with three places.

So the year certainly wasn’t what Grosjean expected when he left Dale Coyne – especially just 23 points clear of the person who replaced him, rookie David Malukas – but it was also a poor season for Andretti in general . That’s not to say Andretti is to blame for everything, it’s just been a disappointing year by team and rider standards.

This year Grosjean will play a more prominent role in the Andretti squad as Rossi moves to McLaren and the squad field two sophomores in Kyle Kirkwood and Devlin DeFrancesco alongside Herta and Grosjean. Herta is at least more experienced than Grosjean when it comes to IndyCar in its fifth season, and the pair will need heavily to improve the team’s fortunes as they chase a first title since 2012 and their first Indianapolis 500 win since 2017.

Romain Grosjean Hy Veedeals Com 250 Presented by Doordash By Joe Skibinski Unwatermarked reference image M64965

One area Grosjean is happy about is the ovals, where he felt he excelled at Andretti.

“The really positive thing about last year is that I was always the fastest on the team on the ovals, which surprised me,†he adds.

“Indy, I qualified top. Iowa and Gateway qualified best on team, Iowa was best on team, Gateway, without the penalty and bad luck with the yellow flags I should have won the race.

“So overall I was up there, which was great. Because this is something I had no idea we were going to do.â€‌

There is no doubt that the focus is on improving performance on the road courses and continuing the positive work that has been done on the road and oval events.

It means it’s a big year for Grosjean. Not only will he be expected to help lead this IndyCar team forward, he will also help develop Lamborghini’s new top-of-the-line prototype sports car, with a number of races including the Daytona 24 Hours this weekend, in his GT car.

It’s going to be a varied and interesting year for a team that’s almost always in the headlines these days.

Speaking of which, given the interview conducted on the day of the announcement that Andretti would be backed by Cadillac in his application for an F1 entry, we felt we couldn’t pass up the opportunity without asking if he would It would be interested in getting involved, even if it is in an advisory capacity.

„Yes, absolutely,“ he replies.

“I think I learned one thing in Formula 1: never say never.

‘Well yes, I think this is great news for Andretti. They’re working really hard towards that goal, so I really hope it will happen.


“They’re definitely trying to make it happen. It’s good.

‘They have the financial backing, they have the design. So it’s interesting to see the team growing and building.”

Perhaps like Grosjeans 2022, things could still be a little sideways for this Andretti F1 offering, with even the addition of General Motors seemingly not being enough to warrant its entry.

But as with Grosjean and his IndyCar title ambitions, there is still hope.


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