Ex-Haas Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean will race in IndyCar this year after signing with Dale Coyne Racing to contest the road and street circuits, skipping the oval rounds.
Grosjean, 34, had spoken of his interest in IndyCar when he and then team-mate Kevin Magnussen were replaced by Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher at Haas.
However, Grosjean’s fiery crash at the Bahrain Grand Prix last year raised questions over his motorsport future until two weeks ago when paddock rumour intensified and pointed to a potential Coyne deal.
“We’ve been talking to Romain for some time now, even before his accident at Bahrain,” Coyne said. “We’re very happy that he has chosen to pursue his career with us and excited to welcome a driver with his pedigree to America, the series and our team.
“We feel that he’ll be a force to be reckoned with in the series.”
Grosjean becomes the first full-time Formula 1 driver to make an IndyCar switch since Marcus Ericsson in 2019.
“I had different options in front of me for this coming season and choosing to go IndyCar racing was definitively my favorite one. Although, I’m not ready yet to take on the ovals!” Grosjean said.
“IndyCar has a much more level playing field than what I have been used to in my career so far. It will be exciting to challenge for podiums and wins again.
“My left hand is still healing, but we are just about ready to get back into the race car and to start this next chapter of my career.”
The team is no stranger to taking on ex-F1 and European single-seater hopefuls, with the likes of Justin Wilson, Sebastien Bourdais and Esteban Gutierrez finding an IndyCar home at the team in the past.
Dale Coyne Racing had fielded ex-Haas junior Santino Ferrucci for the last two seasons but he’ll switch to NASCAR next year, and the squad announced that Ed Jones would be his replacement in the Vasser-Sullivan supported entry last week.
The second car has been uncertain since Alex Palou left the team following a strong rookie season to join Chip Ganassi Racing.
Coyne announced last week that the ex-Palou entry would be backed by NASCAR and sportscar regular Rick Ware Racing in 2021, following a successful one-off tie-up between the two teams that helped get James Davison into the Indianapolis 500 last year.
With Grosjean taking the road and street circuits, Rick Ware’s son Cody is expected to make his IndyCar debut and drive the four oval races, a double-header at Texas, the Indy 500 and Gateway, while RWR will back a third Coyne car for the Indy 500.
Reigning Asian Le Mans Series LMP2 Am champion Cody Ware has never run a full season in NASCAR’s top series, and doesn’t have single-seater race experience.
He began in the Xfinity and Truck Series in 2014 before making the first of 23 Cup Series starts in 2016.
The 25-year-old has been vocal about his struggles with depression and anxiety.
IndyCar veteran Charlie Kimball and the driver who replaced Grosjean in his Haas F1 seat after his crash last year, Pietro Fittipaldi, had both been linked to the Coyne team in the build up to the 2021 season.
It is uncertain if Fittipaldi – who contested the 2019 season for Dale Coyne in IndyCar – will find a seat with only a second car at Carlin still available, unless he brings enough budget to form a new entry at another team.
By adding Grosjean, who will have his first IndyCar test on February 22 at Barber, the series keeps an international draw for fans. It has lost the appeal of Fernando Alonso entering the Indy 500 as he will miss the event for the next two years due to his focus on his Alpine F1 drive.
Jenson Button also recently revealed he had been in talks to compete with Arrow McLaren SP in the 2021 season before plans fell through, attributed to the pandemic.