Romain Grosjean’s fiery, Formula 1 career-punctuating crash rattled the racing world, which for a moment believed it had lost another driver. But the Frenchman emerged from the flames, and after a lengthy recovery, took once again to a Dallara-built race car to continue his career in IndyCar. Spooked by his crash, though, Grosjean won’t race on superspeedways—or with the backing of Gene Haas, who admitted he has dropped plans to sponsor Grosjean in Indycar for a reason that’ll wrinkle a few eyebrows.
“He has a wife and three kids, and I just told him I couldn’t see giving him money to go out and kill himself. I just felt like he needs to stay home and take care of his family. He escaped the big one there,” Haas told Racer. “If you really understood what happened there… If that car had been a few degrees one way or the other, he wouldn’t have been able to get out through that hoop, and he would have died. So, extremely lucky.”
Romain Grosjean testing a Dale Coyne Racing Dallara DW12 Indycar
“I just could not fathom having to face a widow or his kids. I just couldn’t do that,” Haas concluded. “So I said, ‘nah, stay home, I can’t help you there anymore.'”
Interpreted charitably, Haas’s statements imply Grosjean’s pierced not only the trackside barriers at Bahrain International Circuit, but also the wall separating racing drivers and mortality in Haas’s mind. Life-threatening crashes at the professional level of racing have become such a rarity that when one happens (or almost happens), it can be hard for those who played any role in its occurrence to reconcile their involvement and their ideals.
On the other hand, Haas’s crisis may be less one of morality than one of money. Grosjean told The Race the reason he and his former F1 teammate Kevin Magnussen were ejected from Haas was due to financial issues, hence Haas selling a seat to the PR nightmare that is Nikita Mazepin.
How much of Gene Haas’s F1 and planned IndyCar sponsorship budgets come from the same pool, of course, isn’t known to the public, so it’s hard to conclude this is definitively why Haas and Grosjean are parting ways. Perhaps the upcoming season of Netflix’s Drive to Survive will shed some light on the matter.
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