Romain Grosjean is switching teams for the 2024 IndyCar season, moving from the well-established Andretti squad to the still fledgling Juncos Hollinger Racing.
He will have quite a few new challenges ahead of him, including switching to Chevrolet engines and fitting in at a team that has a wildly different atmosphere.
The 37-year-old veteran driver is not at a point in his career where he is likely to stray too far in the way he approaches race weekends, and he has shown that he is quick to voice his displeasure when things go wrong.
Grosjean was asked if his passionate demeanor behind the wheel would clash with the management culture at JHR, which can be rigid in its decisions during a race weekend, and he played down the issue.
“Well, I try to avoid explosion as much as I can,” joked Grosjean. “We’ll see. I think time will tell. I’m aware of all the questions. I think that’s a big talking point right now. We may be surprised in good, we may be surprised in bad. I think we’ll see.
“I’ll do my best on my end for sure. I’ll try to improve. I think you can always improve in life. Thanks God I’m not perfect.
“I also feel like it could be a different atmosphere and feeling, ongoing relationship with Juncos. So far I’ve really enjoyed the time I spent with [team co-owner Ricardo Juncos]. I got lucky to spend quite a bit of time with him in Austin during the Formula 1 weekend, which was nice. I think we’re aware of that potential situation, so we’ll do our best on each end.”
One of the reported reasons for Grosjean leaving Andretti was his disagreements with both team-mates and his crew.
Some of those incidents played out in the public eye, with more likely taking place behind the doors of the team’s haulers, which has earned him a bit of a reputation as a driver that is difficult to work with.
That does not seem to bother Juncos’ management, however, with Ricardo Juncos getting along well with the Frenchman in their talks leading up to the deal for next year.
Grosjean is also not bothered by the environment which he is entering.
A passionate Argentinian fan-base closely follows JHR and their fellow countryman Agustin Canapino, who pilots the #78 entry and will be Grosjean’s team-mate next season.
That passion spilled over into abusive online messages against Callum Ilott following relatively minor on-track incidents last season, and helped lead to his exit from the team.
Ricardo Juncos has largely played down the incidents, effectively saying that a thick skin is all that’s needed once social media kicks into high gear.
Grosjean touted his ability to tune out hurtful messages, and is confident he won’t be bothered by similar online attacks if they are directed towards him.
“Yeah, pretty late in the year,” said Grosjean, referencing when he started talking to Juncos in earnest. “I think the first discussion was Portland, then Laguna Seca, then post Laguna with Ricardo. [Then] got to a point where we found an agreement.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to grow our fan base, both to Juncos Hollinger and myself. I’m excited to discover a new culture: Argentinian.
“I’m starting to learn Spanish just because I wanted to do it anyway in Miami, but also know there’s even more reason to do it.
“If you go on my social media, you can see that I’m far in hate resistance. It is what it is. Some people don’t like me. Fine by me. I think you lose time coming in my social if you don’t like me anyway.
“Hopefully everything goes well, but I’m aware of what happened with Callum. It wasn’t ideal. I felt for him. If it happens to me, yeah, I just don’t go on social, keep doing my stuff.”
Grosjean begins his fourth season in IndyCar this upcoming March at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, when he will drive the #77 and attempt to match the pace that earned him pole at last year’s season opener.