Formula E test for Romain Grosjean was already planned by Mahindra: "He was certainly interested".
Former Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean had Formula E on his mind as a possible continuation of his career. A good year and a half ago, the Frenchman tried his hand in Mahindra Racing's simulator and was also supposed to get a track test. However, various circumstances ensured that "one of the best racing drivers in the world" ended up not in the electric championship, but in the IndyCar series...
"He was interested, for sure," Frederic Espinos recalled to 'The Race'. The then Formula E sports director and current ABT sports chief had made contact between his old friend Grosjean and Mahindra team boss Dilbagh Gill. The Indian confirmed to 'The Race': "We had a conversation. It was very informal at that point, and it actually went on like that. I think it was at least a consideration for him after Formula One."
While not all the details were discussed, "it was definitely a plan that we would have been interested in if the stars had aligned," Gill said. He could well have envisioned Grosjean as a "possible future" for Mahindra. "In the seventh season (2021), we would have seen him more as a simulator, test and development driver and brand ambassador. In the eighth season, he might have ridden if everything had gone well."
So in October 2020, Grosjean did indeed visit the Mahindra factory in Banbury, England. "He did some simulations and seemed comfortable with everything. He did well, and the engineers were impressed. He seemed very interested," Gill reflects.
"He was basically interested in finding out if Formula E was of interest to him. That was before he quit F1, but of course by then he knew he wasn't going to get a place (in F1) anywhere. He really liked street circuits and felt he could get good results there. Even the workload and the balance of the calendar with family life and so on were quite interesting to him," Gill said. "We also talked about testing on the track."
Bahrain crash & IndyCar get in the way of Formula E
Then Grosjean suffered his serious accident at the Formula One Grand Prix in Bahrain, which he barely escaped with his life. "The timing was difficult, and of course the accident had a bit of an impact because Formula E starts in the regular off-season," Gill recalled. At the time, the burns on Grosjean's hands had not yet healed.
In addition, his negotiations with the IndyCar Series continued to evolve and eventually came to a successful conclusion. Even when Grosjean made his debut in St. Petersburg in April 2021, he apparently still had some interest in Formula E.
Mahindra therefore planned to give him a test in Calafat, Spain. In the end, however, it was not to come to that: "He only did this simulation day with us in Banbury, he never sat in the car," says Gill.
Espinos would have been happy to broker the deal - well aware of the communication potential of a Grosjean transfer to Formula E. "In my opinion, Romain is one of the best drivers in the world, and it would have been a great story," the then sporting director of the electric series huffs. "But as we have seen, he is very capable of writing great stories elsewhere for himself and his fans."