Grosjean joins Raikkonen at Renault

09/12/2011
NEWS STORY

In a surprise move Lotus Renault GP has announced that Romain Grosjean will partner Kimi Raikkonen in 2012 as Vitaly Petrov heads elsewhere with his money.

The 2011 GP2 Series champion gained useful experience with the team throughout the year as its third driver. As part of his role, Grosjean participated in the practice sessions at the final two races of the season in both Abu Dhabi and Brazil.

Prior to claiming first prize for the DAMS team in this season's GP2 Series, Romain was a title winner in F3 Euroseries and the GP2 Asia Series before graduating to the Renault F1 Team in 2008 as a test driver. Following this, he stepped up to a race seat for the second half of 2009.

The announcement of Romain as race driver signals the beginning of the Frenchman's second spell at Enstone in such a capacity.

"I am thrilled to be one of the team's race drivers in 2012," said Grosjean. "There's a big grin on my face at the prospect of getting behind the wheel of next year's car, and I feel very privileged to be given this opportunity. To be racing alongside a former world champion and someone who is hungry and returning to Formula 1 will be a great experience, and I'm sure will help raise my level of performance too. I feel that my successful season in GP2 Series has helped me mature a lot, and I am a much more complete driver than I was last time I was competing in this sport. Returning to Enstone as a race driver feels like coming home. I will not disappoint and I wish to thank all the people without whom this return to F1 would not have been possible. Total, which supports me since 2006, and Gravity Sport Management, are first on this list."

"I'm delighted that Romain Grosjean will side Kimi next year," added Eric Boullier. "Romain has shown a lot of maturity in the past twelve months both through his GP2 Series victory and his development as third driver with us. We were impressed when he drove for us in the first practice sessions in Abu Dhabi and Brazil. We are confident that drafting him in to one of our driver's seats will help us in our rebuilding process. I would like to thank Vitaly Petrov and Bruno Senna for their contribution to the team's performance this year and I wish them all the best for the future."

"Only last week I reiterated that the team is at the start of a brand new cycle," said Gerard Lopez, Genii Capital, Chairman. "Announcing Romain as our race driver alongside Kimi is great news and will help us achieve our aims of getting back to the very top. The announcements we made today and last week are exciting ones for our team and there is a real buzz surrounding us now."

Quite where Petrov will head with his millions is unclear, but Pitpass has been saying for some time that Williams would be more than happy to welcome him.

Then again, underperforming drivers with contracts for 2012 - Jarno Trulli springs to mind - must also be wondering where the Russian is headed, suggesting that a number of drivers will be anxiously looking over their shoulders in the coming days.

Other than Petrov, Sutil, another driver with backing, is under serious consideration at Williams while Bruno Senna, and the publicity his name attracts, is also in the frame, while some believe Rubens Barrichello could yet be re-signed.

Interesting times as this move really shakes up the driver market.

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Published: 09/12/2011
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