Grosjean ready to tackle other IndyCar ovals after strong debut

Romain Grosjean’s sparkling oval race debut in IndyCar at Gateway has proven the ex-Formula 1 driver can run the full 2022 season, says his engineer Olivier Boisson.

Grosjean ready to tackle other IndyCar ovals after strong debut

Although he finished only 14th, partly due to the unfortunate timing of a yellow flag and a strategy switch, Grosjean kept the #51 Dale Coyne Racing car off the SAFER barriers at the 1.25-mile World Wide Technology Raceway.

This was despite a couple of moments where he drifted into the marbles and lost speed as he cleaned off his tyres.

He pulled off several memorable passes on the inside and outside of rivals, climbing from his already impressive 14th spot on the grid [he qualified 15th but Alex Palou suffered a grid penalty] to run a legitimate eighth.

“We tried a strategy that didn’t quite go our way, so the end result isn’t as good as our race, but we had a fast car, we learned a lot," Grosjean said.

“I made a couple of mistakes on cold tyres and got into the marbles, but I was able to save it and I managed to make some good passes.

“I’m happy with this first oval race, I’m a little dizzy right now but tomorrow should be better.”

Now Boisson has told Autosport that his driver’s on-track progress, along with the way he worked his in-cockpit tools to finesse the car’s handling has convinced him that Grosjean can also take on the Indianapolis 500, Texas Motor Speedway and the returning Iowa Speedway event next year.

Romain Grosjean, Dale Coyne Racing with RWR Honda

Romain Grosjean, Dale Coyne Racing with RWR Honda

Photo by: Barry Cantrell / Motorsport Images

Asked if he would feel confident about tackling all the oval tracks with Grosjean next year, Boisson responded, “Oh definitely, yeah.

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“You never know if a guy from Europe is going to have it for the ovals or not. Santino [Ferrucci] was a good surprise for us because the ovals seem to come naturally to him.

“Romain is a little like that. When you saw the passes he did inside and outside, and how he got stronger on the restarts, and was really going for it and having a good time, yeah, I’m definitely not worried about him racing any ovals.

"There’s no question he can do it.”

Boisson said he suspected Grosjean would be strong on ovals, based on his left-turn-only initiation at the 11-car Gateway test he ran at the end of July, but his progress still surprised him.

“He didn’t take long to get comfortable on the oval, so he is definitely a quick learner," added Boisson, who reckons Grosjean could have cracked the top nine with a better strategy.

"There’s no doubt about that. But racing an oval is quite different so there was a little bit of apprehension on his side and our side before this weekend.

"I didn’t know he was going to be so comfortable so soon into the race and would be confident enough to make all those passes on people: that was impressive.”

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