Formula 1 team owner Gene Haas was set to sponsor Romain Grosjean in IndyCar this year, but decided to pull his planned support following Grosjean’s huge Bahrain Grand Prix crash.

Grosjean escaped the 137mph fireball accident with burns to his hands and was forced to miss the final two rounds of the 2020 F1 season due to the injuries he sustained in the violent crash in November.

Following his departure from F1, the 34-year-old Frenchman has signed a deal to contest all 13 road and street courses on the 2021 IndyCar schedule with Dale Coyne Racing, choosing only to skip only the oval races as a result of his Bahrain accident.

In an interview with RACER, Haas revealed that he was set to back Grosjean’s foray into IndyCar, only to pull his sponsorship, citing concerns over Grosjean’s safety.

“He had asked if we would be willing to sponsor him in IndyCar, and I think at the beginning I was pretty open to it,” Haas explained.

“But then when he crashed in Bahrain, I was just so happy he didn’t kill himself. For someone who has just absolutely destroyed the car, I couldn’t be happier that he survived it.

“I don’t know… he has a wife and three kids, and I just told him I couldn’t see giving him money to go out and kill himself. I just felt like he needs to stay home and take care of his family. He escaped the big one there.

“If you really understood what happened there… if that car had been a few degrees one way or the other, he wouldn’t have been able to get out through that hoop, and he would have died. So, extremely lucky.

“And the team was extremely lucky. I just could not fathom having to face a widow or his kids. I just couldn’t do that. So I said ‘Nah, stay home, I can’t help you there anymore’.”

Haas described seeing Grosjean walk away from the accident as “probably the happiest day in racing”.

“You know, Grosjean’s a heck of a driver,” Haas said. “He has some really good days when I think he’s probably as good as any driver out there. He loves driving, and that’s his choice.

“I just don’t want to be part of the bad choice. I feel as lucky as he is to escape being killed. That was the luckiest day in the whole Haas F1 saga, that Grosjean managed to survive that, and relatively unscathed.

“It wasn’t so terrifying in the fact that he jumped out, but the hoop was stuck between the guardrails. If that hoop was a little bit smaller then his helmet wouldn’t have fit through it and he would have died.

"He came very close. So I’m very happy. That was probably the happiest day in racing, was to see him jump out of that car.”

 

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