Rising like a phoenix

Last sunday marked the end of the 2021 Indy Car season, a very special season for one driver on the grid : Romain Grosjean. Almost a year after his horrific crash and his retirement from Formula One, the Frenchman celebrates the end of his very first Indy Car season, a first season that ended in the greatest way possible as the ex-F1 driver scored one pole position, 4 podiums and finished at the second place of the rookie standing (yes ! rookie at the age of 35). An incredible first season but more importatly an incredible comeback and an incredible story for a man who faced death less than a year ago.

10 years of F1 that ended in the worst and scariest way possible

In this world, some jobs or sports are known for being dangerous at a point where death is often watching you closely. Despite the incredible level of safety the world of racing has reached in the past few years, there’s always a risk at some point. In the past 30 years, only two F1 drivers died during a race and after seeing drivers easily getting out of their cars after huge accidents, we tend to forget that death is still here, watching the drivers at every corner. On November 2020, Romain Grosjean escaped death closely, he reminded us that there’s always a risk for the drivers but he also showed courage, bravery and redemption.

2020 was Grosjean’s last season in Formula One after a good but however disapointing career that saw him scoring 10 podiums without winning a race or even reaching the supreme title of world champion. 10 years of an amazing journey in F1 that led the French driver to his last season, a season that has been very particular, just like many other sports around the world in 2020. Despite having the worst car possible, Grosjean really enjoyed this season, knowing that after this one, he’d probably never drive an F1 car again (at least in a racing context). Unfortunately for him, his very last season ended in a way nobody expected. After only 3 corners in the Bahrain GP (2 races before the end of the season), Grosjean went lost the control of his car and went straight in the wall, before disapearing in a huge explosion caused by the rupture of his fuel tank. The following minutes were terrible. The car was splitted in two part, the fire slowly burning the part of the car where Grosjean was supposed to be while the firemans were desperatly trying. After a very long minute, Grosjean, in a desperate try to save his life and with the help of Ian Roberts, the medical car driver who bravely went close to the flames, Grosjean managed to escaped his cockpit and the fire. Shocked, with the hands a little bit burned but well alive Grosjean walked to the ambulance by himself. This night in Bahrain, a miracle happened. Unfortunately for him, he couldn’t take part the to the 2 last races of the season but he knew he would be back behind the wheel soon… and most importantly, he was alive and well alive !

Romain Grosjean’s crash in Bahrain. Credit: Drive To Survive: Season 3 by Netflix.
The epic picture of Romain Grosjean escaping his burning car. Credit: Motorsport Images.

I faced death closely, probably too closely. […] When I got out of the car and jumped over the barrier, I knew I made it, I knew I’ll keep living.

Romain Grosjean about his crash.

2021, year of redemption

It didn’t took a long time for Grosjean to be back behind a wheel. A few weeks after the end of the 2020 Formula One season, he announced that he’ll be driving for Dale Coyne Racing in the Indy Car championship. After 10 years of a tough Formula 1 career and especially after such an accident, this sounded like a new start for the 35 years old driver. Guess what ? He fully embraced this new start. As mentionned earlier : one pole position, 4 podiums and second at the rookie of the year standings. Yes, Romain Grosjean definitely found his way to redemption and became an amazing example of redemption in the world of sports. Despite this dramatic accident, despite the fact he already had a pretty good and long career, despite having 2 kids and a wife, he decided that he wanted to keep racing because he wasn’t done with motorsports and he beautifuly proved it this season as he enjoyed every moment of his first Indy Car season while delivering some really solid performances on track (again let’s remind that it was it’s very first time driving an Indy Car and moreover driving a car for a team that was for from being the best team of the grid).

Next year Romain Grosjean will be driving for Andretti Autosport, a team that should provide him the tools he needs in order to be a championship contender and when you look back at where he was a year ago, it’s simply amazing. Romain Grosjean is still here, still rising, rising like a phoenix.