Romain Grosjean announced a move from Formula One to IndyCar on Wednesday but said he would not race on the more dangerous ovals for the sake of his family after a fiery crash in Bahrain last year.
The 34-year-old Frenchman, who was out of contract at the Haas F1 team at the end of last season, will compete for Dale Coyne Racing in 13 road and street races on the US-based series’ 17-round schedule.
Grosjean’s last race was in Bahrain last November when his car penetrated a metal barrier, split in two and erupted in flames before he made a miraculous escape.
Romain Grosjean will be racing this season after joining IndyCar following his exit from F1
It was announced on Wednesday that the 34-year-old will compete for Dale Coyne Racing
In Decemeber, Grosjean was all smiles as he posed without medical dressing on his right hand
The then-Haas F1 driver showed how well his right hand had healed 11 days on from his crash
Grosjean’s car hit and pierced through a crash barrier before bursting into flames in Bahrain
The Frenchman miraculously escaped after being trapped in his vehicle for several seconds
The Frenchman said he had been talking with Dale Coyne before the incident, and had planned to do the full championship.
‘Then obviously Bahrain happened and for a moment I thought I was dead,’ he told reporters on his Twitch stream. ‘Being a father of three kids, I need to be sensible in my decisions, in my choices in the future.
‘At the moment I don’t feel comfortable – not especially for me but more for my kids and my wife – to risk ovals.
Grosjean said his manager texted him after the Bahrain accident to say ‘let’s forget IndyCar’, but he had wanted to do it even though some around him would have preferred him to retire.
‘Motorsport is always going to be risky, and that we know since we do go-karts, but it’s which level do you accept,’ he added.
Both hands were burned in the inferno and he had them wrapped after going to hospital
The IndyCar season is scheduled to start on April 18 with the Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham.
Grosjean, who suffered burns to his hands in Bahrain and continues with rehab but is no longer taking painkillers, will test in the United States this month.
He will join Dubai-born Briton Ed Jones at Dale Coyne, and find fellow-Frenchman and 2019 Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud among his track rivals.
‘I will be a rookie,’ said Grosjean, a veteran of 179 F1 starts. ‘The last time I drove a car that is similar to IndyCar was 2011, the GP2. There’s a lot to learn…’
He said competing at the Le Mans 24 Hours also remained a target but Formula One looked a closed book now, other than a possible test offered by Mercedes after his crash.
The Frenchman will race in 13 road and street races on the 17-round IndyCar schedule