Toto Wolff: "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"; Grosjean to drive Lewis Hamilton's title-winning 2019 car at Paul Ricard in June, including ahead of his home French GP
Wednesday 5 May 2021 11:17, UK
Romain Grosjean will make an emotional return to an F1 car for the first time since his terrifying accident in last November's Bahrain GP in a special test for Mercedes next month.
The Frenchman will drive Lewis Hamilton's 2019-title winning W10 in a full-day test at the Paul Ricard circuit in his homeland on June 29. He will also complete demonstration laps in the car two days beforehand at the French Grand Prix.
Grosjean suffered burns to his hands when his Haas car pierced the barriers at 119mph and burst into flames on the opening lap of last November's Bahrain race.
With the injuries ruling him out of what were already scheduled to be his final races in F1 after 10 years, Grosjean had said he would ask around the grid to see if he could have one final outing in a car - a wish that Mercedes boss Toto Wolff quickly said the world champions would fulfil.
The now-confirmed test for Mercedes will take place seven months after his accident and miraculous escape.
"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 Grosjean, who has returned to racing in the US IndyCar series.
"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. 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."
Wolff said: "We are very happy to support Romain with this special opportunity. The idea first came when it looked like Romain would be ending his active career in Formula 1, and we didn't want his accident to be his last moment in an F1 car.
"I have known Romain since his days in Formula Three when he won the Championship. 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.
"Romain's accident reminds 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."
The Frenchman visited Mercedes' F1 factory in Brackley on March 30 to start preparing for the test, with a seat fitting in the W10 and time on the team's simulator.
The W10 was the car in which Hamilton won 11 races on the way to his sixth world championship two years ago.
"I'm really happy to see Romain back in an F1 car after his accident last year," said Hamilton. "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!"
Grosjean was in F1 for 10 seasons, finishing on the podium 10 times in 179 races for two teams. The 35-year-old is now racing in IndyCar Series, competing in all races expect the events on ovals.
He finished 10th on his debut at the Grand Prix of Alabama and 13th at the second event in St Petersburg, Florida.