World champions Mercedes would be willing to organise a private test session for Romain Grosjean next year if his injuries rule him out of a return to the cockpit in time for next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Grosjean escaped from a horrifying accident at last Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix in which his car became wedged in a crash barrier, broke in two and was engulfed in flames.
In the space of 28 seconds, he managed to work his way free of the wreckage, but in doing so suffered burns to the backs of his hands and injuries to his left ankle. Those injuries have kept him out of this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix, being held on a different configuration of the same circuit.
He is targeting a return to racing in Abu Dhabi, which is due to be his final race with the Haas team and likely as an F1 driver, but said he would not put his recovery at risk in order to do so.
“I want to jump back in the car because it has been my life and I would like to cross the finish line properly when I finish my career in Formula One,” Grosjean said Friday.
“I don’t want it to be over on a bad day, even though the footage of the Haas crossing the line at the back of the field will be less dramatic and less broadcasted around the world [than my accident], I would like it.
“If it doesn’t happen, it’s OK. I will have an opportunity to cross other finish lines in the future. The doctors, what they say, is that it’s difficult to know yet.
“The right hand, 100 percent will be ready. The strength in the left hand gets better and better every day — the strength is there but the mobility, there is still a lot of swelling from the inflammation, so it needs to start reducing. The [skin] graft hasn’t been ruled out yet.
“We will see. I won’t take the risk to lose mobility of my left index finger and thumb just to go to Abu Dhabi.
“The story would be beautiful to go to Abu Dhabi, but if I don’t I will call every single Formula One team and see if anyone would offer me a private test in January or so, to jump back in the car and have ten or 15 laps for myself.”
F1’s regulations allow for private testing in cars that are more than two years old.
Speaking on Saturday night, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said he would make it possible for Grosjean to return to the track in an F1 car if none of the other teams are able to do so. “If we are allowed to do this and nobody else in his universe of teams where he raced would provide him with such an opportunity, we would do this.”
Grosjean does not have a race contract in F1 for next year after Haas decided to replace him and his teammate Kevin Magnussen with Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher from 2021 onwards.
He said he knew from the moment that he first thought about it after his accident that he wanted to return for the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi if possible.
“From Sunday night, the first video call I did with my kids, my wife, my dad was there, I said I will race in Abu Dhabi and you can imagine their reaction, they weren’t very impressed with me, and I won’t blame them,” Grosjean said.
“I will always understand they don’t accept it but I say it is very selfish, it’s what I need, and what I want to do. If it doesn’t happen, well I’m alive, I’ll have plenty of other opportunities in the future, I’ll have a super licence in 2021 and we have seen [this year] no one is safe from COVID-19, so we’ll see.”