Grosjean moves to IndyCar with Coyne after 9 seasons in F1

Haas driver Romain Grosjean of France waves Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020, at Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain. Grosjean escaped with only minor burns when his Haas car exploded into a fireball after crashing on the first lap at last weekend's Bahrain GP. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Haas driver Romain Grosjean of France waves Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020, at Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain. Grosjean escaped with only minor burns when his Haas car exploded into a fireball after crashing on the first lap at last weekend's Bahrain GP. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Romain Grosjean never doubted he'd race again after escaping a fiery crash in Bahrain with serious burns to his hands. Convincing his three young children that it was the right thing for him to do took some work.

“Initially they did not want me to race anymore and they told me to do every other job you can imagine — tennis player, artist, engineer, cook, you name it,” Grosjean said. “But I explained to them that I was the dad that I was because I had racing and that was a big, big part of my life and it made me happy.”

Grosjean on Wednesday was named the new driver at Dale Coyne Racing for 2021, where the Frenchman will become the latest Formula One driver to migrate to IndyCar. He'll race the 14 road and street courses on the schedule in the No. 51 with Coyne to announce plans for the four oval events at a later date.

Grosjean's nine year F1 career came to an abrupt end in a harrowing November crash in Bahrain in which he pulled himself from a fireball of wreckage in a real-time spectacle of the dangers of motorsports. His oldest child is 7 and wasn't sold on Grosjean returning to racing in a car he's never driven and a brand new series in the United States.

“We started chatting about it and they asked a lot of questions about the safety in the cars, the speed, and I told them as much as I could,” Grosjean told The Associated Press by telephone from France. “Then I got them involved in designing my helmet and the oldest one, Sasha, I was training my neck the other day and he came and said ‘Daddy, I am happy you are training your neck. That means you are going racing.'

“It was a very small sentence for him, but it was a lot of meaning for me.”

Grosjean, who missed the final two races of the F1 season and was not retained by American team Haas, will at last be back in a car Feb. 22 during the IndyCar test at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama. His hands are still healing but he expects to be able to put driving gloves on next week without fear of disrupting the scabbing.

Even after the crash Grosjean continued his plans to move to IndyCar. He'd been inquiring with teams since Haas declined to retain both Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen and had been convinced that IndyCar was the right move.