Racing ovals are essential to join the best team for the title bid

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Romain Grosjean has accepted the risk of running on the IndyCar ovals to join one of the flagship teams of the series and fight for the championship.

After his shocking crash at the Bahrain Grand Prix last year, the former Formula 1 driver initially decided not to race on ovals. He switched to IndyCar with the Coyne / Rick Ware team and skipped this year’s races on the two fastest ovals, Texas and Indianapolis.

However, Grosjean decided to compete in the last oval race of the year at Gateway in August. This first positive experience, along with the opportunity to join the top Andretti team, prompted him to embark on a full IndyCar season this year.

“It’s a general process of a few things,” he explained in response to a question from RaceFans. “I was talking to Dale Coyne last year before my accident. I was going to do a full season and then the accident happened and my first reaction was like “I don’t do IndyCar at all”.

“Then a few days later I was like, ‘well, maybe I want to do IndyCar, but I don’t want to do ovals.’ And then we came into this season and I felt really happy and well placed in IndyCar.

Grosjean to tackle IndyCar ovals after joining Andretti

“So I said well, I would like to do Gateway just to see what it is like.” And then I did Gateway and my wife also came and she was able to say how great this experience was for me and how much I enjoyed it.

“We knew the next step was to do everything because you can’t be a top team if you don’t do all the races. They want to fight for a championship, they want to be in front, so that was something and I feel comfortable with my decision.

Grosjean made his first test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Wednesday. He and his compatriot 2021 Series newcomer Jimmie Johnson succeeded in their rookie orientation programs despite the rain that curtailed their third and final runs.

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The first test showed “that you have to respect the ovals a lot,” said Grosjean. “Today you don’t feel quickly when everything is going well but, for sure, if you start to lose the back end at turn one, two, three or four, you know the wall is there and you do two. a hundred and something miles an hour, so it’s gonna be a big shunt.

Romain Grosjean, Andretti, IndyCar, Indianapolis, 2021
“Cars are becoming safer” – Grosjean

“But the cars are getting safer and safer and you try to stick to the oval, you try to stay away from that area. And I feel like my level of happiness throughout my working life , with being able to share all of this with my family, is worth the risk we are taking. ”

His rookie test involved riding the circuit at a series of average speeds, eventually reaching 215 mph (346 km / h). However, laps of over 232 mph (373 km / h) were seen in qualifying last year, and Grosjean has yet to experience running in the turbulent air behind other cars at these speeds on an oval.

“Running through traffic, I will find out in April of next year how it is,” he said. “I didn’t think it was that bad at Gateway. I think in Formula 1 the washout is definitely the worst you can imagine. So I didn’t feel that bad, but again it wasn’t a superspeedway setup so I’d rather wait and see how it goes in April.

“In qualifying, so far from 205 to 215, it was the same thing. So I hope 225 is the same and then it’s a bit more complicated afterwards. But only time will tell. “

The Indianapolis 500 is one of five oval events on next year’s 17-race IndyCar calendar. After Alex Palou’s championship win in his second season in the sport, Grosjean says he’s aiming for the same next year.

“A title is what you want in the end,” Grosjean said. “But there are a lot of things that have to go right to do it. You obviously have to be quick, be competitive, stay out of trouble, stay out of technical issues.

“So yes, if I sign with a high level team, it is because I have an eye on a championship. But I’ll take it step by step.

“First of all, we have St Pete at the end of February of next year and that’s our first goal, see what we can do, then move to Texas and so on.”

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Photos: Grosjean and Johnson test in Indianapolis

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