After nine seasons in F1, Romain Grosjean moved to America to compete in IndyCar. In his rookie year, the French-Swiss driver secured three podiums with Dale Coyote Racing, while he will join for 2022 Andretti Autosport.
Grosjean is also competing with the American team in this weekend's Indianapolis 500, and, in the press conference ahead of the 24 hours long race, he gave his opinion on the 2021 F1 season finale.
The Frenchman believes that Verstappen's title was overall very much deserved, considering his unluckiness throughout the whole season, and that the Abu Dhabi GP was incredibly thrilling, as he said:
"I loved it. It was exciting. My heart was pumping like hell, and I think having two cars fighting over one lap for the world championship was amazing. I think the wrong conception is to think that the world championship went on one lap."
"It was 22 Grand Prixes, and if you look at the full season, you know Max had the puncture in Baku, Valtteri Bottas crashed into Verstappen in Hungary, there at the Silverstone race. I think at the end if we look at how many points were lost by Verstappen, not necessarily by his fault, he was the one that deserved more the championship."
He added that Hamilton, however, deserved that win: "On the Abu Dhabi race, Lewis deserved more the championship; he got unlucky over the last lap. But as a race fan, I loved that last lap, and it was super exciting to watch."
Former racing director Micheal Masi was strongly criticised for the choices taken in Abu Dhabi, and especially for not allowing all drivers to unlap themselves at the end of a safety car issued because of Latifi's crash, but Grosjean sided with him:
"Well, there's a few ways of seeing it. It would have been very strange to not unlap those cars and have Lewis first and then Max four car behind over one lap for the world championship."
In his opinion, it was the best option especially for fans and viewers, to provide them with more drama and entertainment.
"On the other hand, it was from -- from Lewis' [side] it was definitely not a great call, but as a TV fan, as a spectator, as for the sport, I think Michael Masi make the right decision. I don't think the championship would have been nice to finish under the safety car."
"It would not have been nice to finish with the guys being separated on track being first and second separated by a few cars. As I say, I was more Lewis side than Max, so I was kind of, oh, Lewis lost it over the last part of the season; Max did the same, made an incredible job."
"But I thought it was so cool to get those two guys going together," he remarked in the end.
Grosjean's last F1 experience was the 2020 Bahrein GP, in which he was involved in an extremely dangerous crash, with his car cut in half and on fire after hitting the guardrails. He luckily walked out of it suffering only minor burns, and has since gone by the nickname "The Phoenix."
Mercedes had offered the French driver the opportunity to drive their car in the original date set for the 2021 French GP, in order to have a less bitter final memory of the series, but because of scheduling issues the GP was moved to an earlier date, which conflicted with Grosjean's Indycar calendar.
While he's extremely concentrated on his full-time championship, the newly appointed Andretti driver said that the test is still happening and both him and Mercedes'Team Principal Toto Wolff are glad about it, which will be carried out in 2022, even if not at his home prix because of yet another schedule issue:
"I sent a message to Toto after Abu Dhabi. Well, I left a couple of weeks, a few weeks going by, and then I sent a message to Toto, and he did reply. He I started thank you, and then the last sentence was, we need to get you in that car this year.Yes, it's still on the card."
"There were a few things last year that didn't make it easy. This year I cannot go at the French Grand Prix because we're racing in Iowa the same weekend. But definitively Mercedes is keen to do it."
But the desire is mutual, with the Frenchman that was supposed to run last year with an helmet designed by his children.
"I am keen to do it, even though my neck will be dying because I've lost part of the muscle there. You can ask Pato what it was like. But yes, I mean, we still want to do it, and if it happens, great, but it's just -- the main focus is now trying to win races with Andretti," he concluded.