By Alan Baldwin
(Reuters) - Romain Grosjean announced a move from Formula One to IndyCar on Wednesday but said he would not race on the more dangerous ovals for the sake of his family after a fiery crash in Bahrain last year.
The 34-year-old Frenchman, who was out of contract at the Haas F1 team at the end of last season, will compete for Dale Coyne Racing in 13 road and street races on the U.S.-based series' 17-round schedule.
Grosjean's last race was in Bahrain last November when his car penetrated a metal barrier, split in two and erupted in flames before he made a miraculous escape.
The Frenchman said he had been talking with Dale Coyne before the incident, and had planned to do the full championship.
"Then obviously Bahrain happened and for a moment I thought I was dead," he told reporters on his Twitch stream. "Being a father of three kids, I need to be sensible in my decisions, in my choices in the future.
"At the moment I don't feel comfortable -- not especially for me but more for my kids and my wife -- to risk ovals.
Grosjean said his manager texted him after the Bahrain accident to say 'let's forget IndyCar', but he had wanted to do it even though some around him would have preferred him to retire.
"Motorsport is always going to be risky, and that we know since we do go-karts, but it's which level do you accept," he added.
The IndyCar season is scheduled to start on April 18 with the Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham.
Grosjean, who suffered burns to his hands in Bahrain and continues with rehab but is no longer taking painkillers, will test in the United States this month.
He will join Dubai-born Briton Ed Jones at Dale Coyne, and find fellow-Frenchman and 2019 Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud among his track rivals.
"I will be a rookie," said Grosjean, a veteran of 179 F1 starts. "The last time I drove a car that is similar to IndyCar was 2011, the GP2. There's a lot to learn..."
He said competing at the Le Mans 24 Hours also remained a target but Formula One looked a closed book now, other than a possible test offered by Mercedes after his crash.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Christian Radnedge and Pritha Sarkar)