Not only is the team formerly known as Toleman, Benetton and Renault changing names once again to Lotus, but it's thoroughly shaking up its driver lineup as well. After the surprising announcement that former world champion Kimi Raikkonen is coming back to fill in for the injured Robert Kubica, the team revealed that it's called Romain Grosjean back up to the plate to take Vitaly Petrov's place.
The Franco-Swiss driver has longstanding ties to the team, having served as an official test driver since 2008. He was summoned to the race seat in 2009 when Nelson Piquet was ousted in the wake of the Crashgate scandal, but failed to score a single championship point in those seven races. Now with the experience of having taken the titles in the GP2 Series, the GP2 Asia Series (twice), and the Formula Three Euroseries, Grosjean is getting another shot at the big leagues.
What will happen with Petrov (or Bruno Senna, for that matter) remains to be seen, but given his talents – and the massive sponsorship dollars he brings from a key developing market – we wouldn't be surprised to see him find another ride for next season. Marussia Virgin Racing: we're looking at you, comrades.
Enstone, 9th December 2011
Lotus Renault GP and TOTAL are delighted to announce that Romain Grosjean will race alongside 2007 world champion Kimi Räikkönen next season. The two companies are also pleased to confirm that they have renewed their sponsorship agreement for another year.
The 2011 GP2 Series champion gained useful experience with the team throughout the year as LRGP's third driver. As part of his role, Romain was rewarded with two practice session drives 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.