Romain Grosjean has admitted he hasn’t “been sleeping very well” as he attempts to secure a racing contract for 2021, having been dropped by Haas thanks in part to the economic situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
With no obvious possibilities in Formula 1 – although he hasn’t entirely discounted the possibility of a third-driver role – Grosjean has added IndyCar to the list of categories that are “on the menu” despite previously ruling it out.
Grosjean has long expressed an interest in Formula E and the new hypercar class of the World Endurance Championship, but his concerns about IndyCar and its oval racing in particular have been eased now he has looked into it in more depth.
Next year’s IndyCar calendar features just four oval races at three tracks – Indianapolis, Gateway and Texas – and now that he is more aware of the bias in favour of conventional circuits, Grosjean is more interested.
“Yes, it is an option,” Grosjean said when asked by The Race if he was seriously pursuing IndyCar.
“If I’m brutally honest, I haven’t been sleeping very well for the last two weeks. It’s a tough year for the world, for the economy, it’s not a good year to be out of contract and out of the sport that you were in.
“Yes, I’ve been looking into IndyCar. I’ve had some contacts, and some good ones. I kind of regret that I didn’t check the calendar earlier. There were only two speedways and one short track in terms of ovals.
“But saying that, it’s not over and it’s something that I would consider.”
Grosjean’s hopes of landing an IndyCar seat in 2021 are slim, both because of the requirement to bring funding and the small number of seats that are still available.
There are few obvious vacancies in leading teams, with Alex Palou having quickly moved into the Ganassi seat vacated by Felix Rosenqvist’s switch to Arrow McLaren SP and Andretti Autosport tipped to replace the dropped Zach Veach with James Hinchcliffe. But there are potentially opportunities elsewhere, albeit requiring a budget.
It would also require Grosjean to spend a significant amount of time in the United States, although he says the appeal of a championship where the driver can make a big difference is significant in light his recent struggles with Haas in F1.
Given he was surprised not to have made Q2 after what he called a “mega” qualifying lap for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola, the appeal of racing to win is obvious.
“Obviously it’s a big change in the life and so on. I spoke with Marcus Ericsson [who moved to IndyCar in 2019] when he went there and he really liked it and said it’s different style, but the driver has got a big role.
“There are teams better than others, but everyone has got a chance to win the race.
“A day like today where Kevin [Magnussen] and myself did a bloody good quali with 16th and 17th, it’s hard to swallow.
“And probably now I want to win races and have a chance, and win races where I can have fun, so IndyCar is on the menu.”
While an IndyCar drive appears to be a long-shot for next year, it’s clear the 34-year-old is clearly determined to cast the net wide as he looks for a new chapter of his racing career.
But Grosjean is right to say it’s a bad time to be without a job as a racing driver, especially given the difficulty of raising funding, even when you are a driver that, on his day, is one of the quickest in the world.