Grosjean: F1 a closed book but never say never

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Romain Grosjean is not expecting to make a return to Formula One, but has not ruled out a substitute role if another driver contracts COVID-19 this year and cannot race.

His F1 career ended two races earlier than planned last year after he sustained burns to his hands in a fiery accident at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

On Wednesday he announced he would make a return to racing at select rounds in IndyCar this year, but when asked if he would be available as a substitute driver in F1, he did not rule himself out.

"I think F1 is a closed book, but never say never," he told journalists during an online press conference. "If there are any good opportunities in F1, I would be more than happy to jump in.

"I've got the experience and I think I can adapt myself to the car. We've seen with Pierre Gasly recently being positive with COVID that COVID's still around.

"There's always a risk that a driver might not compete in a race and I think the most recent guys in Formula One [who are not racing this year] are Kevin [Magnussen], myself and [Red Bull's] Alex Albon -- we've got the experience and we know the most recent car, so you can expect to get a call.

"Really one thing I learned from my accident is that life is short and I want to have the choice to say no to something.

"But if it's being in Formula One to barely get out of Q1 [the first round of qualifying] once or twice a year... I think that chapter is closed for me. I'd much rather look at other places where I can go race and potentially try to win races."

Grosjean said he briefly considered quitting from racing altogether after his accident.

"I asked myself that question but I think deeply in my head it was never an option," he added. "You can imagine there were a lot of people around me who would push me to stop racing, but it was definitely never an option at the top of my head.

"I just felt like I wanted to go back racing."

Mercedes test

In the days after his accident, Grosjean was offered a private test with world champions Mercedes in order to leave F1 on a high rather than as a result of the accident.

Grosjean said no progress had been made in securing a date for the test, but he is hopeful it will still go ahead.

"I'm still very keen on jumping in the Mercedes F1 car, for sure," he added. "It's an offer you cannot refuse.

"Just to have an understanding of the taste of that car and how it was working.

"At the minute they are absolutely flat out in building the new car for the new season, so I won't phone Toto [Wolff, Mercedes team principal] right now!

"But he can expect to get a phone call eventually from me asking to have a go at it. I think it could be absolutely beautiful.

"But also I'm going to the U.S. in 15 days to spend some time there and learn about IndyCar.

"I just want to do the full IndyCar programme going before looking at other things."

Off painkillers

Grosjean suffered severe burns to his left hand in the accident in Bahrain and said his recovery was still ongoing.

"The left hand is the one that is the most damaged," he explained. "The right is good.

"The left still has some... the skin is still there. The skin is almost fully recovered, 98 percent in terms of the surface. It's still a very pink, new tight skin.

"I've got a lot of exercise in the day and mobility to get it working. I had the left torn ligament that was pulled away so I had to have surgery on it, but it's now quite stable. I'm also working on rehab and getting it to work and to get the mobility of it.

"Until you reach six months it's always difficult to know if you're going to lose mobility or not. Some days it's going good, some other days, like last Sunday when it was more complicated and painful and difficult, but I stopped the painkillers some time ago.

"I don't want to get back at it, even though some days are painful but psychologically for me it was a good step to stop the painkillers and I don't really want to go back at it.

"It's going in the right direction, it's not very pretty, but I can still use my hands. I just need to be careful with the cold weather which I'm not doing well with. The sun as well! So whenever I go and drink a coconut on the beach in Miami I need to be careful to put some cream on my hands, but if not it should be OK.

"Putting on racing gloves, I'm waiting another week but I should be alright."