EXCLUSIVE: Romain Grosjean on his recovery, esports, & V10 R-League
The former F1 driver opens up about his road back to racing and the path R8G Esports is taking.
One of the two new teams joining the sport is R8G Esports, a team founded by former F1 driver Romain Grosjean.
We were lucky enough to talk to Romain about all things sim racing, video games and his new team, as well as his journey from a horrific crash in Bahrain to IndyCar.
Utilising sim racing to aid recovery
It’s no secret that Romain Grosjean suffered a horrific accident at last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix. The fiery crash left him, miraculously, with just severe burns on his hands. As a result, he was unable to complete the remainder of the Formula 1 season.
Grosjean is not a man to give up though and with the help of his sim rig, he is ready to return to racing:
“2020 was a full-on year. In-between the start of the season and the pandemic, I was going racing every week and building my Esports team. Then, the crash in Bahrain, I didn’t know what would be next.”
“I was happy to have the sim [rig] at home, because that was the first thing I could get back racing [with] after the accident.
“I’ve been on the sim quite a bit to make sure that my left hand is getting in the right position and the skin can do it. On top of being a cool toy at home, it’s also been quite helpful in the rehab.”
It’s fascinating and uplifting to hear how Grosjean’s sim racing rig helped his recovery from his accident.
A decade ago, it would be unrealistic to try home rehab like this, but the technology behind esports and sim racing has come on leaps and bounds in that time. Thanks to video games, Grosjean never gave up hope of a real-life motorsport comeback:
“On the hospital bed, the first thought I had was “How can I get back to motorsport?” I tried as long as I could and as hard as I could and I never thought about quitting racing.
“IndyCar was always in the back of my head and I wanted to go and race again in IndyCar. I used esports to learn the circuits and luckily I could find IndyCars and the circuits on most of the games.”
It’s one thing to play video games or compete in Esports, but another entirely to setup your own team. So, how did R8G come to be?
“I’ve always kept an eye on Esports, but last year, with the pandemic, I felt it was the perfect time to set an Esports team up. I like building things and I got the chance to have the right people for me at the time.
“We started the R8G Esports team and I wanted it to be real style. We had to make sure that all the cars are the same, that the streamers have a nice clean room and they have a good background. We want it to be as professional as we can.”
“In sim racing, there’s one thing we need to have, and that’s a strong team spirit. Having a strong three-driver team is very difficult, but super-nice to have.”
One of the prestigious competitions that R8G is entering is the V10 R-League. So, what attracted R8G to the R-League?
“We’ve seen big names and big teams join and it made complete sense to join and we’re very proud to be a part of it. We need to do great on-track, that’s the key, but I believe we’ve got the same vision.”
The car is one of the main selling points of the V10 R-League, being a machine that could never happen in real-life but something we all want to drive:
“I’ve been driving the car myself and it’s pretty cool… The V10R car is outstanding. First of all, the sound is really, really cool. When you drive it, it does remind me of the V8 [F1] car I drove at the beginning of my career.
“The grip is incredible, the lap times that we see are close to Formula 1’s nowadays. I think that’s super-cool.
“The modern F1 car has a huge amount of torque and power and has the most power run for a very long time. But, there’s one thing you’ll never replace, and that’s the sound of a V10 engine. When it goes around, it brings something unique in racing.”
It’s fair to say that Grosjean is looking forward to seeing his team’s name competing in one of the most exciting Esports series out there. Which teams is he looking forward to competing against most, though?
“For us, joining the V10 R-League and fighting against McLaren, Red Bull and Aston Martin is something we’re super-proud of. We selected rFactor 2 champion Erhan Jajovski, Thomas Petitjean from iRacing, and Samuel Libeert from the F1 game.”
“That’s three drivers from three different games and hopefully they work well together.”
Jajovski is one of the most in-form sim racers in the world right now, having come within a few seconds of taking the Formula E: Accelerate title recently. Their lineup should be highly competitive within V10 R-League.
R8G doesn’t have long to wait to see how they measure up in the V10 R-League. They are the first team out on track in a marquee matchup against Aston Martin on Monday, 12 April at 8pm BST on BT Sport 2.
How to watch
V10 R-League Season 2 kicks off on Monday, 12 April.
Viewers in the UK can watch all the action from the best matchup of the week on BT Sport 2 every Monday, with the remaining matches shown throughout the week via the BT Sport App.
Fans in the Middle East and North Africa can get all the action through StarzPlay.
ESPN3 will be showing the races to all those in the USA, Canada, the Caribbean, Latin America, and Oceania.
Make sure to check local listings for exact times and video on-demand services for replays so you never miss a moment of the action!