By Jack Benyon, Valentin Khorounzhiy | the-race.com
Ousted Andretti IndyCar driver Romain Grosjean says he has "commenced an arbitration proceeding" against the team.
It’s been clear for some time that the 37-year-old former Formula 1 podium finisher wouldn’t stay on at Andretti, and Andretti has made numerous driver announcements not mentioning Grosjean such as the signing of Marcus Ericsson and the contract extension of Kyle Kirkwood in recent weeks.
It seemed unusual that neither party had commented on the impending split, but Grosjean’s pursuit of arbitration explains the relative quiet in the media from both sides over their respective futures.
Now that the IndyCar season has concluded, Grosjean has released a "limited statement" announcing that he is taking action "against Andretti Autosport".
Grosjean said he "enjoyed working" with the team and is "proud of the successes we shared" - but added that he is "disappointed" that his expectation of remaining part of Andretti's line-up in the series was not being fulfilled.
John Maley and Mark Owens of Barnes & Thornburg LLP - two lawyers who last year represented Ganassi in its lawsuit against its driver Alex Palou - have been named as representing Grosjean.
The 10-time Formula 1 podium finisher struggled in his first season with Andretti because the car didn’t suit him as Dale Coyne’s had - “I just can’t exploit my driving style when it’s understeering”, he told The Race ahead of this season.
But he seemed to turn it around in the early part of this year with two podiums in four races and had a near-certain win robbed by a collision caused by Scott McLaughlin while the two were fighting for victory in St Petersburg.
After Grosjean’s strong start to the year, it was clear that there was mutual interest for both parties in continuing.
“I feel like I’ve got a few more years in me to race,” said Grosjean in May at the Indy 500.
“We all want the same thing so let’s see if we can do that officially but in terms of what they want, what I want, it’s to carry on together.
“We’ve built something strong.”
But in the period after Grosjean and Andretti both struggled to put up results with a number of high-profile errors on both sides, mechanical failures or general race execution issued.
Michael Andretti also criticised Grosjean’s attitude, as he finished third of the Andretti drivers in the standings by the end of the year - even if many of his lost results were out of his control.
In his statement, Grosjean said he was “pursuing other options to continue my IndyCar career in pursuit of excellence”. The Race understands the goal of the arbitration is not for Grosjean to get his seat back, or keep it, at Andretti.
Grosjean’s most likely landing spot in IndyCar is Dale Coyne, the team that launched his IndyCar career in 2021 after he’d recovered from his fiery Bahrain shunt in F1 the previous year.
Talks have been held with Coyne and at other teams including Ed Carpenter, while increasing his duties with Lamborghini’s new sportscar programme is also an option.