Romain Grosjean became one of the biggest stories in the F1 paddock late last year, after a massive crash at the Bahrain GP that many feared would claim his life. F1's safety innovations and sheer determination saw Grosjean climb out of the fiery wreckage, escaping disaster with relatively minor injuries, given the scale of the crash. However, the aftermath left the Haas driver on the sidelines for the remaining races of the season, and with no seat lined up for 2021, many feared it would be the driver's last time in a Formula 1 car.
Now, Mercedes has stepped up, granting the Frenchman the opportunity to drive a Mercedes F1 car at the Circuit Paul Ricard in June.
"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," said Toto Wolff, team principal of Mercedes-AMG in a press release. "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."
Grosjean will pilot the Mercedes-AMG W10— the car driven to victory by Lewis Hamilton in the 2019 World Championship. With the multitude of restrictions around testing in Formula 1 and upcoming budget caps, it's an exceedingly rare opportunity to drive any modern Formula 1 car, let alone one that absolutely dominated the field in its year of competition. The W10 was the class of the field, winning 15 out of 21 races and securing the Constructors' Championship with four rounds remaining in the season. Hamilton went on to clinch his sixth world title in the car at the United States Grand Prix, with two races left in the season.
The crash which brought an early end to Grosjean's 2020 season was a frightening one, and you can watch his breathtaking escape below.
"I’m very grateful to Mercedes F1 and to Toto for the opportunity," said Grosjean. "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. Reading that news cheered me up a lot! 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."
With the test to come at Grosjean's home race, it's set to be an emotional and heart-warming final few laps for the F1 veteran, who now runs for Dale Coyne in the IndyCar series. It's a great way to shine a positive light on the Frenchman's career, totalling 179 starts and 10 podium finishes, and his legacy goes a long way to showing the value of continuing to improve safety in Formula 1.
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