It would be fair to say that Romain Grosjean is rebuilding his career in the USA, and during his rookie Indycar season is hitting home runs along the way, with an emotional podium at Laguna Seca on Sunday, adding to his score.
Not since Fernando Alonso took the Indycar scene by storm, has an F1 driver won the hearts and minds of fans so rapidly. At the same time media and fans in America have embraced the Frenchman who defied a fiery death during the Bahrain Grand Prix last year when driving for Haas in the top flight.
That was his last Grand Prix of the 179 F1 races he started in a career that began at the 2009 European Grand Prix in Valencia with Renault.
This season he bought himself an RV nicknamed ‘Raoul’ which he has based at Indianapolis Speedway, with permission from The Captain Roger Penske himself, and from there Grosjean has tackled the Indycar road courses this year with a sweet deal with Dale Coyne Racing.
This past weekend, at Laguna Seca for Round 15 of the 16 Round championship, Grosjean was at the top of his game, delivering a riveting show as he starred in most overtakes on the day – corkscrew dives along the way – to finish third. His third Indycar podium to add to two-second places at the Indy road course earlier in the year.
Speaking after his masterclass at the iconic Laguna Seca, Grosjean explained the differences between F1 and Indycar: “It’s the freedom of driving the car the way you like to drive it.
“You don’t need to look after charging mode, push mode, tire temperature, tire window, so on and so on. You just go in the car, leave the pit lane, then you push every single lap. You play a bit with your bars. But as I said, you push, push, push, come in, pit, new tires.”
“The ability to enjoy every single lap that we do, enjoy the fact that you can be competitive in any team, makes it that with the atmosphere in the paddock, obviously with the support of the fans, been just the whole package that I’ve enjoyed a lot.”
As for his memorable third place on Sunday at the iconic venue, Grosjean said: “It’s just been incredible. When I got the ovation, I almost cried, and I don’t cry very often. It’s been more than anything I could imagine.
“Without the fans, we wouldn’t be racing. Without the fans, there wouldn’t be any TV viewership. If there’s no viewership, there’s no sponsor. If there’s no sponsor, there’s no job. They are a very important part of what we do.
“But what they give me back is just incredible. So I wanted to share with them the podium,” added the 35-year-old who last stood on a podium at the 2015 Belgian Grand Prix when he finished third; it was his tenth top-three finish in F1.