Last season was a dream come true for Romain Grosjean, who made his first trip in the NTT IndyCar series. After a decade in F1, the veteran got a fresh start. A clean slate to rediscover his love of driving. On his second occasion, Grosjean quickly became a fan favorite in the sport.
After a terrible accident at the last F1 race in Bahrain, Grosjean was adorned by fans because he accepted everything IndyCar could offer him. Not only was it a clean slate, it was an opportunity to fight again at the helm of the field. He spent the end of his F1 career at the bottom of the net, often his only motive was to beat his teammate.
Depth, parity and diversity in IndyCar is something he noticed from the start. He was rejuvenated and obsessed with learning and taking everything as a “rookie” in the series. His ear-to-ear smile and welcome sessions with the media made fans fall in love with him on the spot.
In a global fan poll conducted by IndyCar before the start of the season, Grosjean was chosen as IndyCar’s most popular driver. It was a result that shocked many, including the man himself. “It felt amazing,” Grosjean said. “After just one year at IndyCar, it was amazing to be voted the most popular driver.”
“I have a story, I come from ten years in F1, fire and return to racing at IndyCar, revealing a championship where I think it was the other way around. I use‘ Phoenix ’as a nickname, not because of fire, it has to do with my rebirth through IndyCar , having fun and enjoying. “
While fans quite liked the driver of the Andretti Autosport No. 28 machine, its competitors don’t feel exactly the same. Last weekend it was a meeting with Graham Rahal in a late race that sparked a heated debate in the fence. During the final laps of the race at Barber Motorsports Park, Grosjean crashed into the side of Rahal’s Honda No. 15 not once, but twice as they battled for a position on the track.
Rahal worked for his team saying, “This guy is a loser! He hit me on purpose.” Those feelings were echoed by the NBC comment team, made up of former IndyCar drivers.
Townsend Bell shouted, “Wow! Grosjean hits him twice!” and James Hinchcliffe said “The second time he aimed at him.” Grosjean said on the radio that Rahal ran into him, but Bell and Hinchcliffe quickly dismissed it, and Hinchcliffe said, “No, that was 100 percent at 28 (Grosjean) there.”
After the race, Rahal did not restrain himself in the perception of the former F1 driver. “I knew Romain would dive me. I had already been warned to do so.” Then Graham continued on. “I’m just frustrated because this isn’t the first time. In St. Petersburg he hit anyone he could hit. We came here and he hit Rossi, hit Hertha, hit me. This guy overreacted to his welcome.”
Grosjean called their contact “good, tough races”, but he is obviously alone in those thoughts. According to Rahal, many drivers supported his comments about the aggressive nature of the Swiss-French race driver. This isn’t exactly the first example of Grosjean’s style of driving in IndyCar.
One of the most notable incidents occurred near the end of last season when he and seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Jimmie Johnson gathered at Laguna Seca. Both were beginners at the time and played contact despite being obviously too physical. Behind closed doors, several drivers expressed their displeasure as Grosjean fluttered their feathers.
Does Grosjean’s reputation in F1 follow IndyCar?
Grosjean was in Miami last weekend as an ambassador for the Grand Prix race. When the media pressured him about his battle with Rahal, he didn’t have much to say. “I don’t know, I was looking for some good points and I wanted more.” It is easy to understand how this mentality could spoil some, but giving up a place or agreeing to a position on the track does not cause much excitement.
To his credit, Grosjean has ten places on the podium during his F1 career. There were almost twice as many accidents in his 179 starts. A collision of several cars at the Belgian GP brought Roma’s suspension in one race back in 2012. He also had an infamous clash with Mark Webber at Suzuki that year. The Red Bull driver described Grosjean as a “first-round lunatic”.
The IndyCar fan base is starting to glimpse the reputation Grosjean had in F1. The big question is whether the Andretti driver can reduce his aggression as the season continues. That is, if he is willing to do it at all. Grosjean sees nothing wrong with the way he drives, and for now, IndyCar officials agree.
Maybe if / when Grosjean is punished for his actions on the track, he could compete cleaner than his competitors. For now, he will continue to race his way as he continues his quest to win at IndyCar. While other drivers may not appreciate its aggressive nature, fans certainly find it fun.
Fans longed for the next IndyCar villain. The series itself tried to include the theme of “Indy Rivals” as a way to generate drama. Many thought the ideal “bad guy” might be Alexander Rossi, but his teammate is sure to throw his name in the hat.