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IndyCar Indy 500

Grosjean pledges to “play the long game” on Indy 500 debut

Former Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean says he will try and be patient in his first Indianapolis 500 start on Sunday as he starts the IndyCar blue riband from ninth.

Romain Grosjean, Andretti Autosport Honda

The 36-year-old Andretti Autosport driver, who scored 10 podium finishes in F1 before switching to IndyCar for the 2021 season, will be making only his third oval start in the Indy 500.

He made his oval debut at Gateway’s 1.25-mile World Wide Technology Raceway last year, finishing 14th, and retired due to mechanical dramas at Texas Motor Speedway in March.

After several flirtations with the walls around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway through practice, Grosjean was the best-placed Andretti driver in qualifying with his four team-mates all languishing outside the top 20.

Asked by Autosport if he had a particular strategy for the start of the race, the Frenchman replied: “No, I need to go and watch videos from previous starts.

“It’s great to be on the outside if you can stay flat and get six positions! But if you stuff it in Turn 1, you’ve done quarter of a mile and you’ve missed 199.75, so best to avoid that!

“So just patience, play the long game, and make sure I do things the way I’m supposed to do things.

“And also get some help from my guys – I’m a rookie out there so they’re probably going to give me information for the race.

“If it’s too much I’m going to tell them it’s too much and if it’s not enough, they can keep me on top of everything I can be on top of.”

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Grosjean talks with his Andretti race engineer Olivier Boisson

Grosjean talks with his Andretti race engineer Olivier Boisson

Photo by: Geoffrey M. Miller / Motorsport Images

Grosjean explained that he feels “more at home on the ovals” than when he passed his Rookie Orientation Programme for the Speedway last October, but conceded “there’s still a long way to go”.

But he also added that there had been no big surprises in the Month of May so far “because I came with no expectations”.

“I didn’t know what I was going into,” he said.

“The biggest part is how much the track changes from a few degrees of weather, or wind or sunshine. I think that caught out a lot of people.

“It’s interesting to go out there and try and get as much information as you can.”

Asked if he felt pressure as the highest Andretti Autosport driver on the grid, Grosjean said he “felt very proud to be in front of all my team-mates”, but stressed “it’s 200 laps , things can go your way or not your way very quickly”.

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“I’m very proud of my race engineer Olivier [Boisson], who decided on Saturday [first day of qualifying] to go a different route from the others, just because he felt that was the best option we had for quali and it worked really well,” he said.

“I’m glad he followed me to Andretti [from Dale Coyne Racing] and I’m glad I had to meet him in my career.

“My relationship with him is great and we trust each other. It’s good.”

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