“Grateful for the opportunity”: Grosjean to make special return to F1 with Mercedes

Seven months after his horrific crash, Romain Grosjean will make a return to an F1 seat when he completes a one-off test for Mercedes.

Like a phoenix from the ashes (almost quite literally) Romain Grosjean is back. The 35-year-old Frenchman had decided that crash wouldn’t be the last we saw of him.

While he was recovering in hospital from severe burns, Mercedes and Toto Wolff came knocking with a promise of an F1 test. Now Romain can end his career on his own terms.

Grosjean will drive Lewis Hamilton’s championship-winning car of 2019 in a full-day test run at the Circuit Paul Ricard on June 29 – a full seven months from his crash.

He will also be behind the wheel for a series of demo laps ahead of his home race at the same venues two days before the test.

Having passed a seat fit and simulator session at Mercedes’ Brackley factory on March 30, Grosjean said, “I am so excited to jump back in an F1 car! It will be a special opportunity for me and to drive a world championship-winning Mercedes will be a unique experience.”

The driver offered his gratitude to Mercedes, saying, “I’m very grateful to Mercedes F1 and to Toto for the opportunity. The first I heard about the chance to drive a Mercedes was in my hospital bed in Bahrain when Toto was speaking to the media and made the invitation. Read that news (sic) cheered me up a lot!”

Further, Grosjean commented on what the occasion means to him, noting, “F1 didn’t get the chance to race in France during 2020 because of COVID, so driving a Mercedes at the French Grand Prix in 2021 and then completing a test at the Circuit Paul Ricard, my home track, will be so special. I can’t wait for the day to arrive.”

Mercedes CEO Toto Wolff said that the motive behind letting the now-Indycar driver sit in a Mercedes seat was to ensure he ended his illustrious career in an equally-fitting manner.

Toto Wolff added that the inspiration behind the drive was to let Grosjean – who now races in Indycar – end his F1 career in a fitting way.

“We are very happy to support Romain with this special opportunity,” he said.

“The idea first came when it looked like Romain would be ending his active career in Formula One, and we didn’t want his accident to be his last moment in an F1 car.

“He enjoyed a long and successful F1 career and we wanted to make sure that his final memories would be at the wheel of a championship-winning car. I’m excited to see what Romain’s feedback on the W10 is.”

Wolff was also quick to remind the fans about the perils of F1, remarking, “Romain’s accident remind us of the dangers these guys face each time they climb into the cockpit but it’s also a testament to the incredible steps this sport has taken to improve safety over the years. I know the F1 community will celebrate seeing Romain back on track.”

Seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton also had some kind words for Grosjean, saying he was really happy to see him getting back in an F1 car.

“When it happened, we were all praying for him and seeing him walk away from it and recover so well was a massive relief. I’m looking forward to seeing him again in France and welcoming him to the team for the weekend – although he better look after my W10,” Hamilton said.

When Grosjean dons his helmet and gets into the cockpit, it’s going to be a momentous occasion. One month and 22 days can’t come soon enough.

Read more: “I had to say sorry”: Max Verstappen reveals why he had to apologise to teammate Sergio Perez

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