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Grosjean open to Lotus return in the future

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He may have announced on Tuesday that he will be leaving the team, but Romain Grosjean has said that he is open to returning to Lotus in the future should the opportunity arise.

Grosjean has spent the entirety of his Formula 1 career in association with the Enstone-based operations, dating back to when it functioned as a Renault works team until the end of the 2010 season.

Renault is set to take over its old base once again when it pushes through its deal to buy Lotus for the 2016 season, but Grosjean will not remain, having been unveiled as the first driver for the new Haas F1 Team.

The Frenchman admitted earlier this week that he was keen to remain a part of the new Renault project, and would have stayed had the deal not taken so long to be finalized.

Grosjean admitted that leaving Lotus would be hard given his long-standing relationship with the team, but he left the door open to a possible return in the future.

“Part of my heart will absolutely always be with Enstone where I’ve grown and experienced so much over the years,” Grosjean said. “I can remember turning up in September 2005 at the front gate, not speaking English and being very shy. Some of the people I met that day are still there.

“I’m turning a new leaf in my book but it doesn’t mean that it’s the end of the book so why not come back to Enstone one day to become world champion with the team!

“Leaving Enstone at the end of the season won’t be easy… I promised everyone some beers in December when I come to say goodbye to the factory. Until then we’ve got five races left yet this season and I’m absolutely determined to end my time with the greatest high possible.”

Alex Palou fastest as several go off course during IndyCar practice at IMS

IndyCar Harvest GP practice
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Alex Palou paced the opening practice Thursday for the IndyCar Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The Dale Coyne Racing rookie turned a 1-minute, 10.177-second lap around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course in his No. 55 Dallara-Honda.

Jack Harvey was second, followed by Colton Herta, points leader Scott Dixon and Max Chilton.

PRACTICE CHART: Click here to see the speed rundown from Thursday’s session

FRIDAY AT IMS: Details for watching Race 1 of the Harvest GP

Qualifying for Friday’s race will be at 6:20 p.m. ET Thursday on NBC Sports Gold.

Will Power, who won the pole position for the July 4 race at the track, spun off course with just more than a minute left in the session after the left rear of his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet made slight contact with the right front of Alexander Rossi’s No. 28 Dallara-Honda.

Power was among several drivers who went off track, but there were no damaged cars during the session. Marcus Ericsson missed the final 5 minutes of the practice after being penalized for causing a red flag with a Turn 8 spin.

Arrow McLaren SP drivers Pato O’Ward and Helio Castroneves, who is driving for Oliver Askew (who is recovering from concussion-like symptoms), also veered off course as did rookie Rinus VeeKay and Santino Ferrucci.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was in attendance at the session before racing Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. Johnson will be driving a partial schedule of road and street courses in IndyCar next season for Chip Ganassi Racing.

“Literally, the smallest of details, I can pick up on,” Johnson told NBC Sports pit reporter Kevin Lee. “It’s been really nice today just to see how a session starts and obviously to jump on the radio and listen to how the systems work and then obviously you get into the car and the setup and such. I’m at ground zero right now, a 45-year-old rookie trying to learn my way into a new sport essentially.”

Johnson told Lee his sponsorship hunt to run a Ganassi car “has gone really well. The fact that I’m here today and ingrained so deeply in the team is a great sign of where things are going. Looking forward to getting behind the wheel of a car soon and hopefully having some announcements for the world to see soon, too.”

Fans were in attendance Thursday for the first time this season at IMS, which is allowed a limited crowd of 10,000 for its races this weekend.