Grosjean takes Petrov’s place alongside Raikkonen

2012 F1 season

Romain Grosjean, Renault, Abu Dhabi, 2011

Romain Grosjean, Renault, Abu Dhabi, 2011

Romain Grosjean will return to F1 in 2012 as Kimi Raikkonen’s team mate.

The pair will drive for Renault, who are set to become Lotus next year.

The announcement leaves Vitaly Petrov, who signed a two-year contract with the team 12 months ago, without a drive.

Grosjean spent seven races with Renault in 2009, partnering Fernando Alonso. But he was not retained for 2010 and eventually returned to GP2. He won the feeder series championship this year driving for DAMS.

Grosjean said: “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 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, [who have supported] me since 2006, and Gravity Sport Management, are first on this list.”

Team principal Eric Boullier said: “I?m delighted that Romain Grosjean will side [with] Kimi next year.

“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.”

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237 comments on Grosjean takes Petrov’s place alongside Raikkonen

  1. John H (@john-h) said on 9th December 2011, 8:41

    I wonder how much slagging off his own team influenced Petrov’s exit. Well, I’m pleased to hear this news, grosjean deserves it and in my opinion Petrov does not based on this year’s performance.

    • I actually thought Petrov was pretty good this year; he was more impressive than Heidfeld in my opinion which takes some doing as plenty of top names have struggled against him, the car was rubbish for most of the year and he was more consistent than he was last year. It’s tough to evaluate him when he’s had three different team mates in the past two years but I’ve thought he’s been good particularly after his mature performance in Aus this year when he needed it. I also can’t really criticise his comments about the team when I’m one of those fans who would love it if the drivers were allowed to have a bit more personality and say how they really felt.

      • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 9th December 2011, 13:16

        @Steph Petrov certainly did step it up this year. Aside from shafting his steering column in Malaysia he’s managed to keep out of the wars quite well…oh and the incident with Schumacher!

        Reagrdless, an improvement. Like you say, it is difficult to evaluate him. Last year was his rookie season. This year he’s had two different team mates and arguably the most disappointing car on the grid.

        I hope he stays around. I enjoy his presence.

      • Slr (@slr) said on 9th December 2011, 16:06

        I disagree, Petrov was largely inconsistent this year. When the European season started Heidfeld out performed him in the vast majority of the races, as Petrov went backwards from his quali position.

        • You have a point but I still think he massively improved on last year with consistency and had far less stupid errors plus Petrov usually had the edge in qualifying though even if he couldn’t translate it into results.

  2. Calum (@calum) said on 9th December 2011, 8:42

    I like Romain Grosjean, he never really got a fair chance the last time at Renault – dumped into the 2009 car with little testing, remember how much of a ‘handful’ that car was to say the least – considering Ferraris mid season replacement drivers both struggled with a difficult car, and all the F1 experience they had (Badoer: 1000s of km of Ferrari testing, Fisichella: 1000s of km in F1 tests and races, half a season in a 2009 F1 car) I think it’s right to say Romain Grosjean was unfairly judged after his short first spell in F1.

    He was winning GP2 before he quit for F1 in 2009, he just won GP2 last season, I’m sure he’ll give a good account of himself with a full pre season test programme and a decent car.

    Renault have a good line up for 2012.

  3. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 9th December 2011, 8:44

    ” 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.” is that the end of the road for both of them? Boy Lotus Renault are entertaining us in the off season.That means Kubica isn’t racing in 2012 for Lotus Renault. So What will happen to all three of them?? Kubica will get a seat if he can prove that he is fit & motivated, Petrov & Senna both have good cash,Williams need some cash,won’t bet one of them ending their.

    I guess couple of weeks back some words said by Petrov against the team backfired to him.

  4. Leftie (@leftie) said on 9th December 2011, 8:54

    The thing that worries me the most is not Petrov or Senna’s future. It’s Kubica’s…

    • lionel said on 9th December 2011, 9:47

      why? gro will leave a sit for kub if kubica’s quick enough

      • Leftie (@leftie) said on 9th December 2011, 10:04

        it is a rotten deal then, sort of

      • The Last Pope (@the-last-pope) said on 9th December 2011, 10:07

        But Lotus arn’t going to give Kubica a car to test in, Ferrari will. As soon as Kubica sets foot in a Ferrari his 2012 Lotus contract will be void, surely?

        Best situation for Kubica is he impresses and prooves his fitness for Ferrari and Massa has another bad year and tempts Ferrari to replace him mid season for Kubica, if not then certainly for 2013. Then Massa could Possibly go to Lotus when Riakkonnen falls out with Boullier :P

        • Leftie (@leftie) said on 9th December 2011, 11:24

          Kubica does not has a contract with any team for 2012 at the moment. His current deal with Lotus expires at the end of the year, so he’s free to go anywhere and do anything.

          • The Last Pope (@the-last-pope) said on 9th December 2011, 11:55

            Kubica does have a contract for 2012 to race for Lotus, thats why he had to inform the team that he wasn’t able to start the season.

            I’m pretty sure he would break the contract if he drove a previous season Ferrari test car. Also why would ferrari offer him a test car without ensuring that he wouldn’t just hop back into a Lotus when he was ready and start beating their cars. Ferrari arn’t a charity, they wouldn’t test Kubica just out of kindness.

          • The Last Pope (@the-last-pope) said on 9th December 2011, 12:07

            Now i’m confused. I read elsewhere he has no 2012 contract. So what happened to the final year of the 2 year contract he signed in 2010? Was it nullified by his inability to race in 2011?

        • I really doubt Ferrari would gamble on Kubica even with a test. I think they’d wait for another team to pick him up, see how he does and then make an decision. They’ve got Massa, Perez and Bianchi all as possibilities for that seat in the future too and Alonso doesn’t seem keen on losing Massa which isn’t surprising given that he mostly always beats him.

        • Cyclops_PL (@cyclops_pl) said on 9th December 2011, 13:35

          He doesn’t have 2012 contrat. Both Morelli and Boullier confirmed it.

          Friday’s press conference – Brazilian Grand Prix
          Friday, November 25th 2011, 21:41 GMT

          Q. Eric, can you clarify the Robert Kubica situation at the moment, as that seems to be going to and fro?

          EB: The situation is quite clear. We have a contract with Robert until the end of this year, terminating this year.

          As long as Kubica is able of getting back to fitness I’m not worried for him. He will either retire completely or find a team. Healthy Kubica without a drive = unthinkable.

          • Kubica made a mistake by going to rallying and had a bad accident. Who is their state of mind will give him a drive to prove that he is fit and fast enough. And Kubica will need a decent car to prove this which he will probably never get. I see end of road for Kubica.

            His best chance would be to stick to Lotus and hopefully Grosjean fails miserably and he gets a chance.

  5. nivek252 (@nivek252) said on 9th December 2011, 9:03

    Delighted for Grosjean, he really deserves this chance

  6. mrgrieves (@mrgrieves) said on 9th December 2011, 9:06

    Totally did not see this coming but great news that the star of GP2 this season will get his deserved shot at F1

    Petrov had one good race in Australia but cant think of anything else aside from cash that he’s done to get a F1 seat can see him popping up at the back of the grid if he can outbid some of the young drivers with cash trying to buy a seat.

    Senna on the other hand had some decent runs especially in qualifying in a poor car but will we see him in F1 again? who knows

    Kubica wow hard to see where he’s going to appear through all this if he is fit enough to make a comeback i guess we’ll have to wait on that one.

    Ok so seats left are Suitil, Hulkenburg and Di Resta going for the Force india and the red bull jr team, probably a young Spanish driver in the HRT then everyone else after the faster williams seat

  7. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 9th December 2011, 9:13

    I’m happy for Grosjean, and interested to see what he can do next year. What I don’t understand is the politics at Renault. Exactly what did the team’s statement of ‘Petrov has until December 10 to decide what he wants to do’ mean? At face value, I would take it to mean that Petrov was weighing up his options, and was apparently no longer interested in driving for Renault.

    With regard to Petrov’s outburst, I did not find it that dramatic (he stated that the team had made too many mistakes, which it had, and that he was contractually not allowed to talk about it, which was not so clever), and after Petrov’s apology, Eric Bouillier said that the matter was closed. How much stock should I put in future statements from team Renault?

    Next year will be slightly strange for me in that I would like both Grosjean and Raikkonen to do well, without having much sympathy for (then) Lotus.

  8. ECWDanSelby (@ecwdanselby) said on 9th December 2011, 9:14

    Ok so let’s assess possibilities:

    Renault Lotus – Kimi/Grosjean (Didn’t Kimi want to buy a stake in the team? A problem for Williams, but perhaps a means of ejecting Senna/Petrov out of Renault..?)
    Williams – Maldonado/Sutil (?)
    Force India – di Resta/Hulkenberg
    Marussia – Glock/Petrov (?) (The Russian team, with the Russian driver.. Russian GP!)

    I suspect Bruno will find a test drive with a team looking for his sponsorship.

    I can see Ferrari taking Kubica on (he’s manager claimed he is no longer working with Renault) for this year and letting him drive some old Ferrari’s to get back up to speed, timed perfectly for 2013 – the two pals Fernando/Robert!

  9. gwenouille (@gwenouille) said on 9th December 2011, 9:15

    Ok, that’s a seat.

    Now i hope that KR will shake that lousy LRGP team up, cause their recent lack of form was quite appalling !

    I think he’ll compare favourably against KR.

  10. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 9th December 2011, 9:37

    I think this is the latest in a string of mistakes from Eric Boullier. I’m not saying that because I’m a Petrov fan – looking back on some of Boullier’s decisions, I think a split was the best thing for Vitaly.

    – Neither Kimi Raikkonen nor Romain Grosjean bring sponsors to the team. Raikkonen was also said to be asking for a $12 million salary for 2012. Petrov, on the other hand, had $15 million in sponsors to his name. Boullier has left the team some $30 million out of pocket, nearly a quarter of the team’s 2011 budget.
    – The team has a close association with Dany Bahar, who was perhaps the most-hated man in Formula 1 after the war of words with Tony Fernandes, a legnthy and pointless court case, and the general attitude up and down pit lane. Most people think that Bahar’s plan to sponsor racing teams is only a good idea if his ultimate aim is to send Lotus into receivership.
    – Boullier dropped Nick Heidfeld in the middle of the season in favour of Bruno Senna. In retrospect, this was a mistake because Senna under-performed and Heidfeld could have aided in development of the R31.
    – Speaking of the R31, the car itself was dismal. Renault started the season as the most promising team with two podiums to their name. They finished it with just one point in four races.
    – The team’s internal finances are a mess. Genii bought the team with a host of loans, and the Malaysian government suspended Lotus’ payments to the team because they did not like the way taxpayer funds were being used to pay off a debt to a Lithuanian bank. While we’re on the subject of that Lithuanian bank, its directors have just been arrested on fraud and embezzlement charges.
    – Vitaly Petrov’s contract forbade him from speaking out against the team. I’m willing to bet that Heidfeld and Senna had similar arrangements in place. I can understand a team not wanting their drivers to bad-mouth them at every turn, but most drivers have the ability to call for change if change is necessary. Renault’s drivers weren’t even allowed to do that because of a totalitarian contract.

    I cannot help that feel that Romain Grosjean was promoted to Formula 1 because Kimi Raikkonen is in the team. Eric Boullier manages Grosjean, and with Raikkonen racing, then whoever was paired with him would get a healthy dose of the limelight. I think Boullier’s desire to see a French driver in Formula 1, and to see a French driver get a lot of attention might have been the driving factor behind this decision – to make a “name” out of Grosjean. Ironically enough, Boullier was brought in to replace Flavio Briatore, but this is exactly the kind of thing Briatore did, favouring his own drivers over anyone else.

    • ECWDanSelby (@ecwdanselby) said on 9th December 2011, 9:40

      I think Total have paired up with Grosjean, so there may be a little more money coming in than the last few seasons.

      Also, didn’t Kimi want stake in Williams when they were in talks? Is there not a possibility that Kimi’s management are putting some money in (perhaps through sponsors?)?

      • Cyclops_PL (@cyclops_pl) said on 9th December 2011, 15:40

        Nope. It was ratheran ultimatum on Total’s side. As the team is no longer Renault from 2012, the French oil company made the seat for Grosjean a prerequisite to continue sponsorship beyond 2011. It’s no secret they prefer RB which is de facto Renault works team.

    • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 9th December 2011, 10:41

      Well @prisoner-monkeys, a lot of what you say rings true to me, the management is a bit erratic, and has been since last year. As I said before, somewhat worthy successors to Briatore, though he clearly did have business acumen enough to never let rumours of interesting dealings get out to the F1 world.

      But I also agree with @ECWDanSelby that perhaps the money aspect isn’t so one-sided as you state, with possibly a higher Total sponsorship thanks to Grosjean, and perhaps money coming to/with Raikkonen.

      I think you have to agree that sporting wise, the new combination of drivers looks like it could be a very strong one, if given the chance.

      I agree that Petrov’s lack of success was for a considerable part this years car not being up to much after that promising start, but fact is, he couldn’t out-race Heidfeld much even though he started well ahead. Senna was better in quali than Heidfeld, and though a bit spotty, still didn’t lag him much in results. As you say, it isn’t very sure Petrov (or Senna, or Heidfeld) would be able to shine in this team.

    • John H (@john-h) said on 9th December 2011, 11:13

      “Renault’s drivers weren’t even allowed to do that because of a totalitarian contract.”

      Sorry, but its just common sense not to slag off your team.

      Surprise surprise you think this is a mistake, but forgetting about the money for one moment, perhaps you might want to consider that Petrov is just not that good.

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 9th December 2011, 21:05


        Sorry, but its just common sense not to slag off your team.

        You clearly didn’t read the whole post. I admitted that teams don’t like their drivers bad-mouthing them, but they usually have some leeway to call for changes or for the team to re-think their strategies. We’ve seen it plenty of times in the past. The difference here is that Renault forbade their drivers from expressing any dissenting opinion. It was as if they did not want to hear any criticism of the team, no matter how justified it was.

    • Hairs (@hairs) said on 9th December 2011, 11:29

      Excellent post about Boullier and the team @prisoner-monkeys. I had high hopes for Eric when he came into the sport but he’s managed to run the team back into the ground in the past year, with no external pressure to do so that I can see.

      I wonder how much the absence of Kubica paid into that? By reputation, he’s a man that likes to spend all day every day talking to the mechanics and engineers, rather than the grid girls. Was there little technical leadership from the drivers, falling onto Eric’s shoulders to analyse their form? He certainly seemed to make a balls of it, losing two high profile, championship winning, well respected engineers, and replacing them with a guy from Arrows, who left after a few months.

      Without some strong and effective team leadership, the team is in danger of freefalling down the grid, like Williams have done under Adam Parr. With Eric, Kimi and Romain in key positions, I think that’s highly likely.

    • I think Grosjean has proved his talent with his GP2 performances and could be a good decisions but I still agree with your post about Eric PM. Despite the promise of last year they really do seem in a mess in some ways.

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 9th December 2011, 13:22

      @prisoner-monkeys Boullier really winds me up at times. He was incredibly unfair on Heidfeld. How much could you expect from a reserve driver and similarly so, how much could you then expect from Senna, a reserve driver for another reserve driver. No disrespect to Petrov, but their season was over before it started with Kubica being injured. This season should have been damage limitation for them but instead Boullier seemed to think that they could compete with Senna instead of Heidfeld.

      The mind boggles!

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 9th December 2011, 21:19


        their season was over before it started with Kubica being injured

        I initially suspected that the team was banking on Kubica’s swift recovery, and that he could return to racing mid-season. When it became clear that Kubica would not race in 2011, they scaled back development of the R31, and began working on what would have been known a the R32. Now I see that it was just mismanagement by the team, rather than a conscious decision to play the long game the way Ross Brawn did with Honda in 2008.

        • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 9th December 2011, 21:27

          @prisoner-monkeys There is no doubt an element of truth in what you say regarding their thoughts on Kubica. Wishful thinking and I can’t blame them for that. I do think that ditching Heidfeld was unnecessary. They panicked.

          • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 9th December 2011, 22:05

            @andrewtanner – My understanding is that Genii borrwed heavily from Vladimir Antonov and Bank Snoras to buy the 75% stake from Renault. Dany Bahar put up money for the sponsorship, but the Malaysian government was not happy that taxpayer money was being used to pay off a bank in Eastern Europe, and suspended the payments. Renault therefore needed an alternate source of income, and picked up a raft of sponsors with Bruno Senna, using his money to pay off the debts.

  11. ECWDanSelby (@ecwdanselby) said on 9th December 2011, 9:43

    Also, I just wondered @prisoner-monkeys what your thoughts were on Grosjean?

    You don’t seem to be keen on the way he was bought in for next season, but do you not think he deserves another chance?

    I wasn’t convinced on his first outing in 2009, but after watching some GP2 (even a little Auto GP), the guy’s just gone out there and got better, full stop.


    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 9th December 2011, 10:10

      @ecwdanselby – that is perhaps the most difficult question you could ask me. When Grosjean joined Renault in 2009, there was an oppressive atmosphere within the team. Nelson Piquet Jnr. had just been booted, the R29 was a terrible car, and Flavio Briatore was only interested in Alonso; if a driver was struggling within the team, he had to find a solution on his own before he started getting some resources. You really got the sense that the only reason why Briatore ran a second car was because he was obligated to; if he had his way, he would only run Alonso.

      Anyway, Grosjean was certainly qualified for Formula 1 in 2009. But he wasn’t ready for a team that was built so heavily around Alonso. Nobody was. Getting in with Renault was just as difficult as getting into Formula 1, if not more so. It was a real career-killer, and joining the team was a mistake. But whatever the case, if Grosjean was ready then, he is certainly ready now.

      The reason why I’m saying all of this (instead of giving a simple yes or no answer) is because ultimately, I don’t think it matters whether Grosjean is ready or not – I see the team heading down the same path now as it did two years ago. The team has been mismanaged, the finances resemble a tangled skein, the sponsorship is questionable, and it is all headed by a man who, it seems, favours the drivers he manages over all others. Grosjean is already on his second chance, and few drivers ever get that much; one disappinting season could kill his career for good. He may not even get that far, since Boullier has said that he would be willing to give Robert Kubica a mid-season start if Kubica thinks he is up to it. As a young driver trying to break into the sport, Grosjean has to take whatever opportunities present themselves as they present themselves – but I fear he has painted himself into a corner by joining Renault, and no amount of preparedness is going to save him.

      • ECWDanSelby (@ecwdanselby) said on 9th December 2011, 10:49

        @prisoner-monkeys All fair points.

        I think another way of looking at it is similar to Schuey/Rosberg at Mercedes back in 2010 (perhaps without the team stability..).

        If Grosjean can go out and beat his fancied returning World Championship winning team mate, then he’s done a blinding job and suddenly puts himself in a great position.

        But as you say, I think it’s more down to his environment around him and their direction/decisions…

        • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 9th December 2011, 10:58

          If Grosjean can go out and beat his fancied returning World Championship winning team mate, then he’s done a blinding job and suddenly puts himself in a great position.

          But has he? Raikkonen has been out of the sport for two years. There are a few hurdles that he will have to overcome before he gets up to full speed, chief among them the Pirelli tyres. Michael Schumacher admitted he was still struggling to understand the tyres as recently as the Indian Grand Prix, so it’s not necessarily going to be something Raikkonen masters in a matter of days. GP2, on the other hand, ran on the Pirellis in their races this year. Grosjean already has considerable experience with them. That tips the scales in his favour, but I think it will be lost on most people – they’ll just see a former World Champion against a man with seven race starts to his name. This is why I suspect that Grosjean was promoted because Kimi Raikkonen is his team-mate; it will make Grosjean look better than if he was racing alongside someone like Pastor Maldonado.

      • Was it a wise move then for Raikkonen to move to swuch a volatile team?

  12. Jelle van der Meer (@jelle-van-der-meer) said on 9th December 2011, 10:01

    Only 6 from the 24 seats left to be confirmed
    2 at Force India (likely di Resta and Hulkenberg)
    2 at Toro Rosso (maybe Buemi and Alguersuari stay)
    1 at Williams (doubt Barrichello will stay – think Sutil)
    1 at HRT (think Danial Ricardio will continue)

  13. Eggry (@eggry) said on 9th December 2011, 10:03

    Whoah!! Certainly Renault likes surprising everyone!

  14. Dafffid (@dafffid) said on 9th December 2011, 10:16

    And conveniently Kimi doesn’t have to face an experienced team-mate with F1 continuity, and look as foolish as Schumi did last year – wouldn’t want your big investment looking ordinary would we Eric?

  15. McLarenFanJamm (@mclarenfanjamm) said on 9th December 2011, 10:17

    Personally, I think Grosjean is a better driver than both Petrov or Senna, so I’m pleased about this. Although, Petrov has improved a lot and it will be a shame to see him without a drive next season. I believe his chances now come down to a straight fight with Sutil for the other seat at Williams. Petrov edges that for me, better sponsorship and the Renault engine connections.

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