Grosjean will call Wolff to take up Mercedes F1 test offer - The Race
Formula 1

Grosjean will call Wolff to take up Mercedes F1 test offer

Feb 3 2021

Ex-Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean will call Mercedes boss Toto Wolff to take him up on the offer of a “beautiful” opportunity to test one of the team’s title-winning cars.

Grosjean had to miss the final two rounds of the 2020 season following a fiery, near-fatal crash in last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix, which brought his F1 career to a premature end.

He said he hoped to arrange a private test to gain a more positive final F1 memory, and while his most recent team Haas is not able to do that Mercedes boss Wolff publicly extended an offer for Grosjean to drive an old Mercedes.

Grosjean, who would be permitted to drive a 2019 Mercedes or older under F1’s testing rules, will switch to the United States-based IndyCar series in 2021 after losing his Haas drive but plans to contact Wolff to arrange the test.

“I’m still very keen on jumping in the Mercedes F1 car for sure,” said Grosjean, who scored 10 podiums in F1 but ended his career with uncompetitive Haas machinery.

“It’s an offer that you cannot refuse, just for me to have an understanding of that car and how it was working.

“At the minute I think they’re absolutely flat out in building the new car for the new season and understanding when it’s going to start and how it’s gonna go [amid the coronavirus pandemic].

“I won’t phone Toto right now, but he can expect to get a phone call eventually, me asking to have a go at it.

“It could be absolutely beautiful.

“But right now, I’m going to the US in 15 days and I’m going to spend some time there, and learn about IndyCar.

“I just want to get the full IndyCar programme going before looking at other things.”

Motor Racing Formula One Testing Abu Dhabi, Uae

Grosjean’s first IndyCar test is scheduled for February 22 and he still needs to recover fully from the burns he suffered in his accident as well.

The planned 23-race F1 season begins with pre-season testing in mid-March and the opening round at the end of the month, while Grosjean will be travelling between Europe and the US this year – which severely limits the opportunities for a mutually convenient test with Mercedes.

Asked by The Race if he had spoken to Wolff about it directly, Grosjean said: “There hasn’t been any firm communication.

“I have spoken with someone there and they say right now we are very busy with building the new cars and so on. Which I know – I’ve been Formula 1 long enough to understand that this time of the year the factories are running flat out as much as you can with COVID getting the cars ready.

“So, I think it’s just not a good time to chase that. But I will give a phone call to Toto at one point and see what can be done.

“He really touched me. I was surprised that it was such a natural way of going for it. And obviously I would love to do it.”

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Grosjean’s commitment to a non-oval IndyCar schedule cements his immediate return to racing after his violent accident last year.

He says IndyCar will be his main priority but he is also still exploring the possibility of adding a sportscar programme, having spoken to his former Haas team-mate Kevin Magnussen following the Dane’s IMSA debut in the Daytona 24 Hours.

“Yes, it’s on the list for the future,” Grosjean said of sportscar racing.

“I think right now, it’s going to be IndyCar. I’m going to be based in Europe, so I’m going to be travelling a fair bit between Europe and the US.

“Endurance is still something I’m really keen to do. I spoke with Kevin Magnussen after the 24 Hours of Daytona and he absolutely loved it.

“Obviously, they weren’t lucky with the puncture five laps to the end, but he absolutely loved it and he was very happy that he could fight for a win and he did a brilliant job there.

“Sharing the car with team-mates is definitely something that I would like to do and Le Mans is up there on the list as well as Sebring, Petit Le Mans, Daytona 24.

“Many, many races that I would like to compete in.”

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Sakhir Grand Prix Qualifying Day Sakhir, Bahrain

Grosjean said last year he would not completely rule out an F1 return in the future but admits now it is a “closed book” in terms of a serious opportunity.

He remains open to the idea of being a stand-in should a team require a substitute, but has ruled out returning with a back-of-the-grid team on a regular basis.

“If there are any good opportunities in Formula 1 I would be more than happy to jump in,” he said.

“I’ve got the experience, I think I can adapt myself to the car.

“We’ve seen with Pierre Gasly recently being positive that COVID is still around. There is always a risk that a driver may not compete in a race.

“And then I think the most recent out of Formula 1 are Kevin, myself and Alex Albon.

“We’ve got the experience and we know the most recent car, so you could expect to get a call.

“But really I think one thing I learned from my accident is that life is short and I want to have the choice to say no to something.

“If it’s being in Formula 1 to only get out of Q1 once or twice a year, I think that chapter is closed for me.

“I’d much rather look at other places where I can try to win races.”

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