Can Grosjean win Le Mans and Indy 500 in 2024? 'It's cool to do both!'

Romain Grosjean has signed for Lamborghini to join the Hypercar revolution, as he looks to combine an IndyCar campaign with endurance racing. "We can still be like those drivers who used to jump from one car to another," he tells Damien Smith

Romain Grosjean in front of Lamborghini LMDh teaser image

Grosjean in front of a teaser image of Lamborghini's LMDh car, which he'll race from 2024

A Lamborghini for the top tier of endurance sports car racing? That’s got to be a sight for sore eyes. If nothing else, it’ll have to pass the teenage bedroom wall poster test.

Don’t worry, Romain Grosjean assures as he considers the as-yet unseen and unnamed LMDh contender he can’t wait to drive. We won’t be disappointed.

The ex-Formula 1 and current IndyCar star was announced last week as a factory Lamborghini driver and it’s a role that understandably excites him, as we found out when Motor Sport caught up with the French-Swiss for one of our special Awards podcasts.

“I’ve seen some cool cars through my life, but this one…” He pauses, then grins. “Let’s say you’ll recognise it as a Lamborghini. People will be quite amazed by the car.”

Lambo has joined Acura, Alpine, BMW, Cadillac and Porsche in taking the LMDh bait, which, in parallel with the LMH Hypercars built by Ferrari, Peugeot, Toyota and Glickenhaus, look set to relaunch endurance motor sport back into the stratosphere from 2023. Although in the case of the decadent king of Italian hypercar makers, we’ll need to remain patient a while longer yet. Its new car won’t be ready to race until 2024.

Ford GT1 of Romain Grosjean alongside Lola Aston Martin at Le Mans in 2010

Grosjean raced at Le Mans in 2010 and qualified third in class with a Ford GT1 (right). The race ended in retirement after engine trouble

Grosjean has joined Mirko Bortolotti and Andrea Caldarelli on the driving side to spearhead the crucial development programme in 2023. Meanwhile, he’ll reacquaint himself with endurance racing for the first time since 2010 – when he raced a Ford GT1 and made his one and only appearance at Le Mans in exile from F1, before his slingshot return with Lotus-Renault. The 36-year-old is lined up to race a Huracán GT3 Evo II in the big American enduros, starting with the Daytona 24 Hours next month, in a dovetail with his full-season commitment to Andretti Autosport in IndyCar.

Such a dual campaign was always the intention, he tells us, since he moved his wife and three children to Miami to give US racing his full and undivided attention this time last year following a happy toe-in-the-water IndyCar experience with Dale Coyne’s team. The US scene was just the balm he needed after years flogging away in F1 – not to mention the fiery note on which he signed off in that Bahrain horror-crash at the end of 2020.

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“Already in 2022 I wanted to do the three endurance races” – Daytona, the Sebring 12 Hours and Petit Le Mans – “but we moved in December and it was too tricky to do it properly,” he says. “Now the opportunity with Lamborghini has come and I’m very excited by this project, to be representing such a brand that is iconic for anyone who loves cars. Every time there’s a Lamborghini in the street people turn to watch it. It is that brand. I can’t wait to have one in my front yard.”

We have to ask: what’s he gone for? “A Urus – because of the kids. I don’t really have a choice…”

Ah. The one Lambo no teenager would be seen dead with on their wall. Never mind. Grosjean’s racing Lambos will just have to make up for the anticlimax.

He certainly approves of what he has seen so far of the LMDh. Of the four LMP2-related chassis open to manufacturers entering the new class, Lamborghini has plumped for the Ligier – the least fashionable in comparison to Dallara, ORECA and Multimatic. As for the engine, it’s believed to be a twin-turbo V8 developed by the Squadra Corse racing arm. The campaign is a collaboration with the Iron Lynx GT team and Prema, junior single-seater powerhouse and now also established in LMP2.

Romain Grosjean in the cockpit of Lamborghini GT3 car

Racing a Huracán GT3 Evo II alongside his IndyCar will prepare Grosjean for 2024 LMDh campaign

“With the Balance of Performance everyone is going to be in the ballpark, but you want to have the best option in that ballpark and I think the guys have a good idea what to do,” asserts Grosjean. “We’ve got Ligier behind us which is very motivated to do a good chassis. Right now, Dallara and ORECA have got most of the market, but if we can do well it’s a good situation for them. On the engine side, it totally makes sense with what is coming in the future. And the way the car is being developed seems to be working well. It all looks good.”

The deal came about, Grosjean reveals, following a nod from Mercedes junior programme boss Gwen Lagrue. Romain picked up the lead and following a call with Lamborghini competitions chief Giorgio Sanna, the architect behind the LMDh programme, struck a deal. “I knew the car was not going to be ready in 2023, but OK, let’s do some GT3 and develop the LMDh in the US,” says Grosjean. “It’s a big market for Lamborghini here. That’s how we started and I’m excited to be a part of this chapter.”

The big IMSA enduros make sense for him now he’s committed to life in the US. The IndyCar schedule purposely avoids clashes with Daytona, Sebring and Petit Le Mans, which shouldn’t change anytime soon given Roger Penske’s substantial interests in both codes. Le Mans should also remain an option for Grosjean in 2024, and he likes the idea of taking some inspiration from past heroes, including the father of his current IndyCar boss.

“We all talk about Mario Andretti doing the Monaco GP and flying back to the do the Indy 500, those drivers who jumped from one car to another,” he says. “In IndyCar we can do that. I hope that remains the case – it’s cool to do both single-seaters and sports cars.”

Romain Grosjean inspects the Lamborghini Countach special editions

Lamborghini’s Countach revival didn’t make Grosjean’s company car shortlist — he plumped for the family-friendly Urus

Regarding his first season with Andretti, Grosjean openly admits it wasn’t good enough. Second at Long Beach in round three was a rare highlight when victories and even a charge for the title had been expected. Instead, he finished 13th in the points in his Honda-powered Dallara. A bit of a comedown after the feelgood year with Coyne.

“Season two was not what we wanted, I’ve got to be honest,” he says. “I thought by joining Andretti we would be winning races, we’d be competitive at most of the places. Some of it was due to my incapacity to get the car set-up they use feeling comfortable. But through the year we evolved quite a lot in the set-up and I think by the end we had a good short oval, good street course and good road course car. So I am quite positive for next year.

“The team also wasn’t as competitive as they were the previous year, generally. I’ve seen a lot of movement, a lot of positives over the last few months. As for myself, searching for that natural feeling when driving the car… we have finally found what was giving me that non-natural feeling, I would say.”

Romain Grosjean Indianapolis 500

2022 didn’t bring the IndyCar success that Grosjean was hoping for


His take on the level of competition in IndyCar is fascinating, especially in the context of his 179 F1 starts. Grosjean is impressed, particularly by one of IndyCar’s new-generation stars – but perhaps not the one you might expect.

“One of the best examples was when [Alex] Palou came to COTA to do FP1 for McLaren and on the same tyres as Lando [Norris] was just two or three tenths off, which is very, very good,” says Grosjean. “For Colton” – his Andretti team-mate Herta, whose hopes of an AlphaTauri F1 chance were infamously scuppered by a lack of superlicence points – “the picture was bigger. He has got the capacity and speed to be in F1. But if you look at his career he has never won a championship, in Indy Lights or IndyCar. So I also understand why he doesn’t have the points for a superlicence. What I think is wrong is the amount of points we get in IndyCar. I think it should be at least at Formula 2 level, maybe more because the level is up there. There are some very fast drivers.”

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And the driver that really impressed him? “The guy that amazed me the most is Scott McLaughlin. I think he should have a test in F1, he would be fast. That guy is very special.”

Grosjean recognises how phenomenal McLaughlin’s IndyCar rise with Penske has been, given the 29-year-old Kiwi’s background as a three-time Australian Supercars champion. Touring car racing, at whatever level, is hardly a traditional route to single-seater stardom.

“If you think he did V8 Supercars for so many years and is doing so well in IndyCar now, it’s very natural,” says Grosjean. “IndyCar works a little bit different than F1, in the way you need to have experience in the races, and that’s why you see the old guys doing pretty good. But the racing is tough and the competition is up there. You can’t go on a quali lap thinking ‘OK, I’ll do 95% because I know I’ve got a good car’. It won’t be enough, you need every single lap to be 100%, and that’s a challenge. But it’s pretty fun.”

Which sums up his new family life in Miami, and how much he is relishing the US scene. Now with a Lambo LMDh deal in his pocket and a Daytona GT3 debut to get stuck into, life for Grosjean couldn’t be much better. Now he just needs to win a race.