Romain Grosjean powered to his first NTT IndyCar Series pole position on Friday afternoon on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's road course, the French rookie claiming his first P1 in qualifying since his days in GP2.
The former Haas driver moved to the US open wheel series after ending his ten-season F1 career following his horrific accident at Bahrain at the end of 2020. And this weekend's GMR Grand Prix at the Brickyard will mark only Grosjean's third IndyCar start with Dale Coyne Racing.
"Amazing," the 35-year-old said after beating two-time series champion Josef Newgarden by 0.126s. "That last few laps, we were on it. What a day for us ... I’m happier than I have been in a very long time!"
Grosjean is contracted to compete in IndyCar for Dale Coyne Racing in this year's road course and street races, including the REV Group Grand Prix at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin on June 20.
However the latest changes to the F1 calendar which include the postponement of the Turkish GP and the addition of a second race in Austria mean that this is now also the weekend for the F1 French GP
Grosjean had been due to take part in a demonstration run of the Mercedes W10 during his home race weekend, which will now no longer be possible.
Team principal Toto Wolff had offered time in the race seat to help Grosjean put behind him the memories of last November's devastating accident in which he suffered burns to the hands after a miraculous escape from a fiery inferno.
But even though the demo run will no longer take place, the team has confirmed that Grosjean will still get to drive the Mercedes in a full one-day test session at Circuit Paul Ricard the following week.
Grosjean said this week that the offer from Wolff had come while he was still recuperating from the accident, when his injuries meant he couldn't even use his mobile phone.
"I was in my hospital bed in Bahrain," he told the Beyond the Grid podcast this week. "Someone was helping me to open the things on my mobile phone because I didn't have any fingers to use.
"And then friends told me, 'Oh, Toto says you could have a test in a Mercedes if you don't make it back to Abu Dhabi'. And I'm like, 'Oh okay, that's, you know, that is super cool."
"Then I went back home, had a bit of recovery and then eventually got a call from Mercedes," he continued. "It says, 'Okay, so here are the dates that we could do it, seat fit will be on that date, you could do a little bit of simulator as well, and how does that work for you and are you up for it?'
"Bloody hell, of course I'm up for it!" he laughed. "It is an incredible chance.
"I'm still a Formula 1 fan, I still watch the races," he added. "Now I get to drive the 2019 world champion car, which at the end is not too far from the 2020, which was probably the fastest F1 car ever built.
"And I drive it without pressure without having a test day to complete few test things and go through a programme and so on. Yes we can have a programme but it's more, 'Let's go and have some fun'."