Written by Archie O’Reilly
Juncos Hollinger Racing have announced the signing of Romain Grosjean for the No.77 car, following the departure of Callum Ilott by mutual agreement in recent days. The French driver left Andretti Global at the end of last season after two years with the team.
Grosjean, 37, made the switch to IndyCar with Dale Coyne Racing in 2021 following 179 races in Formula One, where he picked up 10 podiums across 11 years. Across three years and 47 races in IndyCar to date, he has achieved six podiums as well as three pole positions.
A move to Juncos gives Grosjean a chance to re-find the form that saw him become highly coveted after his initial year with Coyne. He has since shown flashes of race-winning pace for Andretti, but no victory has yet come to fruition. This pace has recently been marred by inconsistency and a knack for involvement in incidents, seeing tensions rise.
"I've been closely following JHR’s ascension in the past few seasons," Grosjean said on the move. "The team has showcased significant growth, and I am eager to contribute my experience as we aim for a strong 2024 season."
Ricardo Juncos added in the team's release: "Romain brings an unparalleled pedigree in motorsports. His leadership and experience are precisely what we need to propel JHR to new heights in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES."
Fellow co-owner Brad Hollinger said: "Romain has a history of competing at the pinnacle of motorsports. His expertise will be invaluable as we strive to redefine our performance metrics, both on and off the track."
Grosjean competed on road and street courses in his maiden season in IndyCar, plus one late-season oval race at Gateway, where he finished an impressive 14th-place. He made a significant impression for one of the series’ smaller teams, achieving three podiums in his rookie year, including a second-place after taking pole position in only his third race.
He managed six top-10 finishes with Coyne across 13 races in 2022, including on debut at Barber, en-route to securing a creditable 15th-place championship finish. Finishing only 33 points adrift of Rookie of the Year, Scott McLaughlin, having missed three races helped to gain him a switch to one of IndyCar’s powerhouses, Andretti, for 2022.
Despite taking a second-place in his third race for Andretti, Grosjean’s first year was marred by inconsistency, with seven top-10s but also nine finishes outside the top 15. His second year was always bound to be decisive after a disappointing 13th-place championship finish in 2022. But he would only manage to match this result in 2023, amassing 32 less points.
The 2023 campaign started off brightly for Grosjean, with two second-places and two pole positions in the first four races. But after only three top-10s and a number of incidents, things quickly unravelled. The promise of a new deal was withdrawn, resulting in an unsavoury end that has seen Grosjean commence arbitration proceedings against Andretti.
It is a risk for Juncos to take Grosjean onboard, not least given the breakdown in relationship at Andretti and the fact he has retired from over 25 percent of his IndyCar races to date. But the team are also getting a driver with vast experience and success at motorsport’s top levels, who excelled in a similar environment at Coyne.
Grosjean’s international reach has benefitted IndyCar in recent years, and the series is no doubt better off for having the Frenchman return for 2024 - both for his off-track character and on-track exploits.