until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Grosjean didn’t waste his first chance to prove Andretti wrong

by Jack Benyon
5 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

It’s still bizarre to consider that Romain Grosjean is fighting for his seat in IndyCar.

We’ve established by now that his parlous situation at Andretti Autosport may not be purely down to his performances on track, and that it might be more attitude related.

“He’s fast. Pleasant guy, great guy, but when it’s negative comments about the team, yeah, that’s frustrating,” team owner Michael Andretti told the Indy Star last month.

“And it’s not even just me. The guys, they take it to heart, because they’re busting their asses.

“Everyone makes mistakes, he’s made his share as well.

“I think that’s where Romain sometimes has a problem, controlling his adrenaline.

“Once he calms down, he’s more measured, but in the heat of the moment, I think he has a problem.

“It’s probably been his biggest downfall while he’s been here.”

Music City Grand Prix 2023

If Andretti does elect to move on from Grosjean, which The Race’s sources suggest is being actively considered but not yet decided, and it’s done it because it feels its crew will perform better with a new driver and a changed environment, it would be hard to argue that isn’t fair.

But if it’s done for racing reasons, it would be a baffling call. And the Nashville weekend has underlined that.

Andretti also said in that interview with the Indy Star: “Instead of bringing it home 10th, he tries to push it to ninth and finishes 28th, and that’s been really frustrating on our side.

“We’ve had a talk about it, and we’ll see how the rest of the year goes.”

At the first opportunity to prove Andretti wrong, Grosjean didn’t overdrive. He overcame a tough set of circumstances to finish sixth, where he qualified.

That’s his first top 10 finish since his back to back second places at Long Beach and Barber Motorsports Park three months ago, back when he and Andretti seemed like they were heading for a 2023 title bid not a split.

Grosjean’s team-mate Kyle Kirkwood may have won on Sunday, but Grosjean did exactly as Andretti had demanded of him last week.

A call to take the soft tyre in the final stint was always going to be tough, but it was complicated by being dumped into traffic on his hard tyres in the second stint.

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He overworked them trying to navigate that traffic and forced an early pitstop leaving a long stint on the softer tyres, which in ridiculous Nashville heat was always going to be tough.

“The long stint on the greens, it was OK honestly, but we just lost positions there,” Grosjean said after the race to NBC TV.

“Strategy-wise, not on our side, but it is what it is.

“Congrats to Kyle I think with a couple of very small differences on track we could have won the race. But…next time.”

Yes, Grosjean is still without an IndyCar win, and yes, before Sunday he’d gone eight races outside the top 10.

Kirkwood scored three in that span, with their team-mate Colton Herta earning five.

But, with a more holistic view, if you give Grosjean the win he was dumped out of by Scott McLaughlin in St Petersburg and the seventh place he was running in before suspension failure in Detroit, he’d be ahead of two-time winner Kirkwood and Herta in the points and be Andretti’s highest-placed driver.

He also has the team’s most poles with two this year, at St Pete and Barber. It’s hard to question Grosjean’s performance without also considering where he ranks against his team-mates.

If Andretti’s decision is made on performance, it’s hard to see how it could move on from Grosjean. He also sells a lot of t-shirts and provides an ex-Formula 1 name to a team trying to gain attention in that world. There’s a lot about Grosjean that suits Andretti.


Music City Grand Prix 2023

Marcus Ericsson has been the driver heavily linked to joining Andretti and possibly replacing Grosjean.

That’s just got more complicated as last week, it’s understood Ganassi made a new offer for Ericsson. Quite why it waited until around when its period of exclusivity with Ericsson was ending – on August 1 – to do that… your guess is as good as mine. The kids would insert a eye-rolling emoji in here.

“I’m talking to Ganassi. There’s a lot of interest from other teams as well,” Ericsson said on Thursday.

“So there are definitely conversations going on with Ganassi. It’s still a strong option. Next few weeks I will hopefully know a bit more but no decision has been made.”

Some of The Race’s sources indicate that Ganassi is now more positive that it can keep hold of Ericsson, but it’s also been suggested that the most likely outcome is still that he’ll leave for Andretti.

So no prevailing opinion came out of the paddock at the weekend and Ericsson likely has more deliberating to do when he’s not amid a race event.

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Elsewhere, David Malukas reasserted that he’s leaving Dale Coyne Racing at the end of the year and that he has a deal on the table with a team, but that it is not finalised and it needs more work than him just signing, there are still more negotiations to do.

The Race has regularly heard that Malukas has had a deal in place with Andretti for some time, and with Devlin DeFrancesco likely leaving the team for Dale Coyne, it’s possible Malukas could come in and Grosjean could stay, but not if it also signs Ericsson.


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The sixth place for Grosjean in Nashville is a gauntlet laid down in the wake of Andretti’s irritated comments at the situation.

If he continues this form, and he’s dropped anyway, we’ll likely get our answer as to whether the reason was performance-based or because the team wants to change the environment.

For now, Nashville was a strong statement from Grosjean and it came at a track he’s struggled to bag results at in the past – and heading to arguably his best track next weekend: the Indianapolis road course, where he nearly won as a rookie with Coyne in 2021.

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