Romain Grosjean joins Haas for 2016 F1 season


Romain Grosjean will race for Haas Formula 1 Team next year after being announced by the American outfit in a press conference on Tuesday.

NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas won the race to join the F1 grid back in 2014, and his team will debut at next spring’s 2016 Australian Grand Prix following two years of preparation and planning.

Haas will be the first American team to race in F1 since the unrelated Lola Haas project back in the 1980s, and joins at a time when the sport is enjoying a rapid rise in popularity in the United States.

Gene Haas has signed a technical partnership with Ferrari that will see his team enjoy support from the Italian manufacturer, but has arguably secured his biggest coup to date by signing Grosjean from Lotus.

“Well this is part of our long term strategy,” Haas said. “I think we’ve always maintained that we wanted an experienced driver to lead our team into the 2016 season. F1’s a tricky business. You have to learn it, and the best way to learn it is to learn it from other people.

“We were looking for an experienced driver, and Romain was one of several candidates. He’s been in F1 for many years, he’s been an excellent driver for Lotus. I reviewed a lot of video of his driving style. He scored points every season, and that’s really our primary goal here, to be able to score points.”

The decision to leave an established F1 operation at Lotus and join a new team may represent something of a risk for Grosjean, but the Frenchman is relishing the opportunity to race for Haas next season.

“What Gene Haas and everyone at Haas F1 Team is building is impressive, and I’m very proud to be a part of it,” Grosjean said. “F1 is incredibly competitive and the only way to succeed is by finding new ways of doing things.

AP Photo“This is a new opportunity with a new team that is taking a very different approach to F1. I believe in their approach and they believe in me. While I am committed to giving my absolute best to my current team in these last five races, I am very excited for what the future holds at Haas F1 Team.”

Grosjean made his F1 debut back in 2009 with Renault before stepping back down the motorsport ladder to GP2 for the following season. The Frenchman won the title with ease in 2011, helping him to secure a seat with Lotus in 2012 where he has raced ever since.

Despite struggling to adapt to life in F1 at first, Grosjean has since flourished into one of the most respected and impressive drivers in the sport, even if he has been held back by his car for much of the past two seasons thanks to Lotus’ financial difficulties.

After six years of association with the Enstone operation, Grosjean will now jump ship to join Haas for 2016. Although joining a rookie team does contain a lot of risk, Haas’ reputation in motorsport, its support from Ferrari and long lead-up time should allay many fears about its fortunes for 2016.

For Grosjean, Haas also offers a possible route into the Ferrari works team for 2017 upon the expiration of Kimi Raikkonen’s contract at Maranello. Grosjean is known to have been in contact with Ferrari in the past, and could be in the frame for a drive in the future by impressing with Haas.

IndyCar disappointed by delay of video game but aiming to launch at start of 2024

IndyCar video game 2024

An IndyCar executive said there is “absolutely” disappointment that its long-awaited video game recently was delayed beyond its target date, but the series remains optimistic about the new title.

“Well, I don’t know how quick it will be, but the whole situation is important to us,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said during a news conference Monday morning to announce IndyCar’s NTT title sponsorship. “Motorsport Games has spent a lot of money, a lot of effort to create an IndyCar title. What we’ve seen of that effort, which is not completely obvious, is very reassuring.

“I think it’s going to be outstanding. That’s our shared objective, that when it is released, it’s just widely accepted. A great credit both to IndyCar racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, something that our fans love.”

In June 2021, IndyCar announced a new partnership with Motorsport Games to create and distribute an IndyCar video game for the PC and Xbox and PlayStation consoles in 2023.

But during an earnings call last week, Motorsport Games said the IndyCar game had been delayed to 2024 to ensure high quality.

Somewhat compounding the delay is that IndyCar’s license for iRacing expired after the end of the 2022 season because of its exclusive agreement with Motorsport Games.

That’s resulted in significant changes for IndyCar on iRacing, which had provided a high-profile way for the series to stay visible during its 2020 shutdown from the pandemic. (Players still can race an unbranded car but don’t race on current IndyCar tracks, nor can they stream).

That’s helped ratchet up the attention on having a video game outlet for IndyCar.

“I wish we had an IndyCar title 10 years ago,” said Miles, who has been working with the organization since 2013. “We’ve been close, but we’ve had these I think speed bumps.”

IndyCar is hopeful the Motorsports Game edition will be ready at the start of 2024. Miles hinted that beta versions could be unveiled to reporters ahead of the time “to begin to show the progress in a narrow way to make sure we’ve got it right, to test the progress so that we’re ready when they’re ready.”

It’s been nearly 18 years since the release of the most recent IndyCar video game for console or PC.

“(We) better get it right,” Miles said. “It’s something we’re very close to and continue to think about what it is to make sure we get it over the line in due course.”