Grosjean was ‘blocking’ rookies’ route into F1

Jon Wilde
Romain Grosjean PA

Romain Grosjean has confirmed he will drive in the IndyCar Series this year for Dale Coyne Racing, in conjunction with the Rick Ware Racing team.

Romain Grosjean admits he has been “blocking” a path into Formula 1 for new blood, amid reports that Haas are set to hire two rookies for 2021.

The Frenchman and his Haas team-mate Kevin Magnussen are being released at the end of their contracts this season, with Grosjean having revealed he was told by team principal Guenther Steiner it was for “financial reasons”.

The likelihood appears that Haas will bring in a pair of Formula 2 drivers who can inject sponsorship revenue and/or satisfy the requirements of their engine supplier Ferrari.

Therefore the names in the frame are Nikita Mazepin and Ferrari Academy driver Mick Schumacher, whose appointments are anticipated before the end of the campaign.

Grosjean’s exit from Haas is likely to end his stay in Formula 1, which began in the last seven races of 2009 with Renault before he was dropped at the end of that season and spent spells in sportscar racing, Auto GP and GP2, then returned with Lotus in 2012.

The 34-year-old, who has never won an F1 race but had 10 podium finishes in his four years with Lotus, has no issue with the path down which Haas are heading having had a good run of his own in the sport.

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“Rookies need to have their chance in Formula 1,” said Grosjean, quoted by RaceFans. “I’ve been here for 10 years, blocking kind of a seat for 10 years, and if the team goes for two rookies, well, good for them, and I wish them the best.

“Obviously in my days we were probably a little bit less prepared than the drivers are nowadays. The young categories have got really more professional. So I think it’s not easy to compare.

“The only thing I can say is that I was convinced I was ready when I came in and I wasn’t. And obviously I paid a heavy price at the beginning after 2009.

“But I’m very much different [now]. I know exactly where we need to bring the car before the weekend. I know how to drive it, how to get the best out of it when it’s not going the way you want it. That’s really making a lot of difference.”

Despite his vast experience which will soon comprise nine full seasons, Grosjean admits he has been not been sleeping well as he ponders his next move – which could be back into sportscars or potentially IndyCar.

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