PARIS (AFP) – Romain Grosjean, who suffered a terrifying crash in November, will be back at the wheel of a Formula One car for a test with Mercedes at the end of June in France, the team said on Wednesday.
"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," said the 35-year-old Frenchman on the Mercedes website.
Grosjean’s Haas car broke in two and burst into flames after it crashed into a barrier at 220km/h on the first lap at the Bahrain Grand Prix on November 29. He escaped the fireball with burns to his hands, a sprained left ankle and bruising.
Immediately after the crash, Toto Wolff, the Mercedes team principal said he would not let the accident mark the end of Grosjean’s Formula One career.
"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," Wolff said on Wednesday, adding that he had known Grosjean since the driver’s start in Formula 3.
Grosjean said Wolff’s support had lifted his morale.
"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!"
Grosjean will drive a 2019 Mercedes, the W10 model in which Lewis Hamilton won the world championship, on June 27 in "demonstration laps" ahead of the French Grand Prix at the Paul Ricard Circuit and then on June 29 in private testing on the same track.
"We wanted to make sure that his final memories would be at the wheel of a championship-winning car," said Wolff.
Grosjean has already said he is switching to Indycar in the United States,
"A last ride in front of my home crowd at the gpfrancef1 in a f1 car, what could be better?" he tweeted on Wednesday.
"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," he said in the Mercedes statement.
In ten seasons in Formula 1, including the last five with the American team Haas, Grosjean has not won a Grand Prix.
"I’m looking forward to seeing him in France and welcoming him to the team for the weekend, although he better watch out for my 2019 W10," said seven-time world champion Hamilton.