Click above for high-res image gallery
Typically, most of the drivers who start a Fomula One season are the ones who carry it through to the end. But this has turned out to be anything but a normal season, with erstwhile backmarkers winning races and a big game of musical chairs ensuing. Toro Rosso has already switched out Sebastien Bourdais for Jaime Alguersuari, Ferrari was set to bring Michael Schumacher back from retirement but ended up having to deputize test driver Luca Badoer instead, and now Renault has followed suit by axing Nelson Piquet, Jr. and replacing him with its test driver, Romain Grosjean.
The move started last week when Renault announced Piquet's departure. The son of three-time world champion Nelson Piquet, Sr., Nelsinho (as he's known) moved up to F1 after two seasons in the GP2 feeder series also run by Renault team principal Flavio Briatore. Aside from a solitary, though impressive, second-place finish in Germany, the young Brazilian failed to finish nine races last year, and had yet to score a single point this season. Piquet's termination prompted him to launch a series of tirades against Briatore, whom he characterized as an ignorant executioner.
Piquet's replacement, Romain Grosjean, won both the Formula Three Euroseries and the GP2 Asia championships before moving up to the main GP2 series, where he placed fourth last year and is currently runner-up in the standings, in addition to his role as Renault's official test driver. Renault is waiting to see if he and teammate Fernando Alonso will start the upcoming European Grand Prix, pending their appeal of a penalty given at the last race in Hungary for an improperly secured wheel. Confirmation of Grosjean's promotion pends a successful appeal.