Grosjean’s farewell Mercedes test dream comes true

Jon Wilde
Romain Grosjean

Romain Grosjean

Romain Grosjean’s dream of a farewell Formula 1 test in a Mercedes is to come true – at Paul Ricard on June 29.

It will be the perfect way for the Frenchman to round off his F1 career, just after the weekend of his home grand prix and seven months to the day since his last race for Haas.

That was, of course, the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix, which will forever be remembered for Grosjean’s horrific crash through the barrier in which his car split in two and burst into flames, with the driver mercifully escaping with only burned hands and a sprained ankle.

The 35-year-old, who is now contesting this year’s IndyCar series in North America on the street tracks and circuits but not ovals, expressed a desire for one final test in an F1 car as a way of bowing out of the sport with happier memories than Bahrain had provided.

Mercedes emerged as an option, with Grosjean saying a phone call had occurred between he and the World Champions’ team principal, Toto Wolff.

Now the plan has come to fruition, with Grosjean set to drive Sir Lewis Hamilton’s 2019 World Championship-winning W10 in a full-day test on Tuesday June 29.

He will also be in the cockpit for a series of demonstration laps at the same venue two days earlier, ahead of the French Grand Prix – which, pandemic restrictions permitting, will give Grosjean’s supporters the chance to say goodbye to him from F1 properly.

“I’m so excited to jump back in an F1 car,” said Grosjean, who has undergone a seat fit and simulator session at Mercedes’ Brackley factory.

“It will be a special opportunity for me and to drive a World Championship-winning Mercedes will be a unique experience.

“I’m very grateful to Mercedes F1 and to Toto for the opportunity. The first I heard about the chance to drive a Mercedes was in my hospital bed in Bahrain when Toto was speaking to the media and made the invitation. Reading that news cheered me up a lot!

“F1 didn’t get the chance to race in France during 2020 because of Covid, so driving a Mercedes at the French Grand Prix in 2021 and then completing a test at the Circuit Paul Ricard, my home track, will be so special. I can’t wait for the day to arrive.”

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Wolff said: “We are very happy to support Romain with this special opportunity. The idea first came when it looked like Romain would be ending his active career in Formula 1 and we didn’t want his accident to be his last moment in an F1 car.

“He enjoyed a long and successful F1 career and we wanted to make sure his final memories would be at the wheel of a Championship-winning car. I’m excited to see what Romain’s feedback on the W10 is.

“Romain’s accident reminded us of the dangers these guys face each time they climb into the cockpit, but it’s also a testament to the incredible steps this sport has taken to improve safety over the years. I know the F1 community will celebrate seeing Romain back on track.”

Hamilton said he was “really happy” to see Grosjean returning to an F1 cockpit.

“When it happened, we were all praying for him and seeing him walk away from it and recover so well was a massive relief,” said the seven-time World Champion.

“I’m looking forward to seeing him again in France and welcoming him to the team for the weekend – although he had better look after my W10!”

Grosjean has competed in two IndyCar races so far this year, finishing 10th and 13th.

His test at Paul Ricard falls right in between two races at Road America in Wisconsin (June 20) and Mid-Ohio (July 4).

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