Written by Katie Gregory, Edited by Sean McKean
With two pole positions this year, Romain Grosjean is on a mission to secure his first IndyCar win. However, as the Andretti driver’s determination grows, the results begin to slip through his fingers.
Grosjean seems to find the limit of his car in almost every race but seems to dance across it, tempting fate and never quite knowing when to stop. This either results in an outstanding qualifying lap or a DNF, even accompanying each other on some weekends.
The season opener at St Petersburg demonstrated his driving style perfectly, as he led from pole comfortably - until the final pit stops were made. As Team Penske driver Scott McLaughlin and Grosjean went wheel to wheel, Mclaughlin locked up and sent them both into the tyre wall.
McLaughlin was at fault, but Grosjean’s willingness to send it into the corner the way he did showcases just how determined he is to be a winner. His determination makes him the great driver he is, but this is futile without the ability to remain calm and make smart decisions.
Grosjean’s extensive racing career does give him valuable traits as an IndyCar driver, and he excels in tyre management; however, his experience may be proving to be a hindrance. For the later part of his Formula 1 career, he spent most of his time overdriving a car that was simply not competitive enough to win. This meant his good results were outweighed by his many crashes, earning him a less than favourable reputation among his peers. Now that he has a competitive car underneath him, it seems he doesn’t know what to do with it. The Andretti driver has spent so long punishing his car and pushing it to the limits, the biggest challenge for him at the moment is to trust the car and work to its strengths.
Grosjean’s experience hindering his performance is only highlighted when he is compared to his younger teammates Kyle Kirkwood and Colton Herta. Kirkwood has already secured his first IndyCar win this year, while Herta is the face of consistency. You won’t often find Herta sitting pole-position, but more often than not, he brings home a top-ten finish.
This is why it is particularly difficult to truly rate Grosjean against his teammates. Herta is above him in the championship, but Grosjean has put in beautiful laps and showcased his undeniable talent and raw pace. His all-or-nothing mindset has resulted in some impressive overtakes, but he may want to remember the most important rule in motorsport: to finish first, first you have to finish.
With four DNFs from eight races, the odds don’t look great for the Andretti driver. But then again, it seems Romain Grosjean has never been one for odds. Many thought he wouldn’t survive his 2020 crash, and when he did, many doubted he would ever drive again competitively.
While technically sound and consistent drivers are easy to come by in this sport, drivers with the talent and passion Grosjean has are few and far between. Whether you’re rooting for or against him, whatever you do; don’t count Romain Grosjean out just yet.