Race Weekend Central

Inside IndyCar: Et Tu, Romain?

Former Andretti Global driver Romain Grosjean announced on Oct. 4 that he would be initiating legal action against the team via X (née Twitter).

I was going to let Inside IndyCar breathe this week as we gear up to celebrate Max Verstappen winning his third title this coming weekend in Qatar, but no, apparently?

For many in the IndyCar community, this will surely bring flashbacks to the Alex Palou contract drama that dominated the summer of 2022 and recently rose back to life in August 2023. McLaren, party to the ongoing Palou drama, likewise found itself caught up in legal spiderwebs with Oscar Piastri in late 2022.

Whatever is going on here, it’s very confusing, and most confusing about the Grosjean-Andretti situation is the language of Grosjean’s brief statement on the matter.

“I had expected to continue racing with the fine people at Andretti Autosport in the coming years,” the statement says. “I am disappointed that this is not being fulfilled, and wish the Andretti team members well.”

The statement continues on saying that Grosjean is exploring further options to secure a seat in IndyCar for 2024 before taking a 180 degree turn in the final passage.

“I have commenced an arbitration proceeding in Indiana against Andretti Autosport, seeking to protect my rights.”

What?

See also
F1 Midweek: Qatar Returns From 2022 Absence

Frankly, after the contract whirlwind of 2022, it’s almost instinctual to brush these developments off as mere industry drama born of a deadly combination of poor oversight, excessive decentralization, etc; the typical pseudo-bureaucratic hogwash that will sneak into any organization that reaches significant size and complexity.

The frequency with which this is occurring, however, suggests it gets worse.

RACER has reported that multiple sources within IndyCar have suggested that this all began when Grosjean was presented a contract extension for 2024 early in the 2023 season. The Frenchman allegedly accepted and signed the proposed extension, only for the team to never put their own John Hancock to the matter.

RACER says that this proposal of extension came early in the season, when Grosjean appeared to be reaching his final form. The Andretti driver had the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg all but won before a wheel hop from Scott McLaughlin ended both of their days. He snagged consecutive runner-up finishes at Long Beach and Barber as well.

Come the Month of May, however, things turned south.

From the GMR Grand Prix on May 16 through the Iowa weekend (July 22-23), Grosjean never breached the top 10. Only when the series came to Nashville did he finally collect a sixth-place result. He then fell out of the top 10 until the end of the season, netting a 13th-place points finish.

It is alleged that this drop in form – markedly worse than the same stretch in 2022 – prompted Andretti to hold its cards to its chest and see how the season would play out for the No. 28 team before committing to Grosjean for 2024. Not helping the matter was Grosjean being seen in the throws of his own emotions, sometimes directed at his own crew, throughout the season. Andretti was notably silent on the matter until the season’s end.

Toward the middle of the season, team owner Michael Andretti even mentioned that Grosjean’s performance could at times be “really frustrating.”

It seems to have been known, by everybody else in the worst-case scenario and likely by Grosjean himself in the most realistic scenario, that he wouldn’t be back at Andretti for 2024; whether that is due to shady management by the team or through miscommunication or through divine intervention can only be of so much importance at the end of the day.

See also
Inside IndyCar: 3 Areas to Improve the $1 Million Challenge

Either way, Grosjean has enlisted the help of the largest law firm in Indiana to pursue his case against his former team and “protect [his] rights.” We’re back in the mud. Meanwhile, Andretti Global seems to do be doing just fine, having achieved the first step on their journey to the Formula 1 grid. However, one question emerges from this that Frontstretch‘s own Michael Finley was quick to raise…

The season ended almost a month ago, what took so long?

About the author

0
 | Website

Alex is the IndyCar Content Director at Frontstretch, having initially joined as an entry-level contributor in 2021. He also serves as Managing Director of The Asia Cable, a publication focused on the international affairs and politics of the Asia-Pacific region which he co-founded in 2023. With previous experience in China, Japan and Poland, Alex is particularly passionate about the international realm of motorsport and the politics that make the wheels turn - literally - behind the scenes.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

1 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Alex Curits

It is both hilarious and alarming that in the US if you seek legal advice on legal matters you are automatically labeled a stinking pile of garbage that should be just F off and die. Should it be the same for people who go to doctors? If you read what Racer wrote and remember they hate Romain, they point out that Romain was offered a contract which he signed. It appears he felt he was retained for 2024, Andretti feels otherwise. This is exactly the type of case where you should seek legal help. BTW, all of you with Beware of the Dog signs need legal advice too, the sign could be seen as an admission of guilt if your dog bites someone.

Share via