Escapade Interviews: Romain Grosjean
16 December 2021, Lifestyle
We catch up with 'The Phoenix' himself, Romain Grosjean, almost exactly a year on from his dramatic incident in Bahrain. At Praga Cars HQ, for which Romain is an ambassador, we chat about Silverstone; his experiences travelling the world with F1 and IndyCar, his favourite racing corners, what he sees the future holding for both motorsport and his career.
Words: Simon Truscott, Escapade
Photography: Pieter Gatehouse
For anyone that's passionate about racing, if you want to have track days, the idea of Escapade is amazing. To have a home on the race track? I think it's incredible.
What has been your most memorable experience at Silverstone?
I think it was 2012 - I had contact on the first lap through the melee of the first corners and I had to change front wing - then came back last on track and made my my way back to finishing sixth! I overtook through Maggots & Becketts. I overtook Jensen [Button], McLarens, everyone - the car was amazing - the hard tyres lasted the whole race so I didn't have to pit anymore and I was just passing cars with a lot of speed. I had really good tyre wear and that was that. It was a lot of fun at Silverstone that year for me!
What's your favourite corner at Silverstone?
It's one of those very historical tracks that you won't see on the F1 calendar every week. When you get to Copse, Maggots & Becketts, then Chapel - those corners are really pretty cool. If I'm being honest the new complex of turns 1,2 and 3 is not my favourite. I prefer the old way when we were going under the bridge, but that part of the circuit I mentioned is definitely what Silverstone is most known for.
You really feel the downforce of the car through those corners - you can be flat out through Copse, for example it can be flat out in qualifying but it's just tight enough that it's not flat out every lap. Then you get to Becketts and it's the same thing initially, you're flat out and then you need to lift and brake. Yet you still carry so much speed. It's so great but you also know that if anything goes wrong...it's big. High-stakes.
How do you think race tracks can diversify for the future?
The racing world is evolving, you know in very different ways we've seen electric championships coming through, we've seen Formula One adapt to hybrid, we're seeing new tracks around the world and we've seen e-sports going quite strong. I do think there's room for more improvement, more ideas - things that we've never really thought of before that can be done. I think that's what you guys are doing and as you know I like the idea. For anyone that loves cars, having your own house on the racetrack is just, well it's absolutely amazing!
For anyone that's passionate about racing, obviously at Silverstone there's the British Grand Prix that you'll want to come and see, there's the Moto GP too. If you want to have track days and so on and you have your home on site, that's just amazing because you can go there like you would go on on a weekend on vacation. The thing is there's so much more on than just the F1.
Romain's F1 career
Copse, Maggots & Becketts, then Chapel - those corners are really pretty cool!
What kind of race track hospitality is best?
When I was doing F1, most of the time I was using a trailer as I went around the world. But some tracks like Suzuka - which is my favourite racetrack - we used hotels. But the hotels next to the track there are simply not the best experience - at least it was just for one time each year! So I'd have liked to have something that is a little bit more convenient there and at some other circuits. For us to drive easily, it's super cool when we can have a place which is close to the the track because there's nothing worse than spending an hour and a half in a traffic jam to get to the circuit in the morning.
I realised this year using a bus that the trailer was my home in the States so I didn't feel too uncomfortable - it wasn't like another hotel room that can all look alike. I have my bicycle, my computer, my clothes - everything in the bus - so when I arrived in the States for IndyCar I felt at home which was great. Obviously with Formula One you travel around the world much more so you can't really do that to the same level and therefore you need to use hotels a little more.
So, you're doing well as an IndyCar 'Rookie'!
I didn't really feel like a Rookie if I'm being honest - though yes I am one and I'll be one next year again at Indy! A lot of people were talking about it! I'm eligible for Rookie of the Year in Indy which I missed by not competing every race.
Can you tell us some of your future racing plans?
I'm probably going to do some endurance races so maybe one day I'll do Le Mans with Praga and an e-sports driver next to me, because I believe we can find some e-sports drivers who can compete to the highest level. But then we'd need to go to the LMDh category because that's what I want to do - I would like to win Le Mans 24 Hours one day...
Thanks for your time, Romain!
No worries, lovely jubbly!