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. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 9th December 2011, 10:18

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

    Renault apparently told Petrov that the decision on whether he raced for them in 2012 was up to him. If that is the case (and Renault have no reason to lie), then I doubt Petrov would leave the team without some solid plan for 2012 in place. I don’t think he’s being thrown into the wind on this one – he’s already said he’s talking to three other teams.

    • The Last Pope (@the-last-pope) said on 9th December 2011, 10:45

      I think thats quite possible. I’m thinking he is probably part of a backup plan for Williams -who even though confirming Maldonado- are expecting his PDVSA money be prooven illegal.

      There is no one here who would believe that Maldonardo with no sponsorship would stay in favour of Petrov with sponsorship.

    • I heard that too PM and I hope it’s true because I agree that if he’s turned down the drive then he should have some plan. If it’s not true though then I’ve lost a little love for Renault although that’s probably hypocritical of me given how Ferrari treated Kimi :P Do you have any idea which teams Petrov’s meant to have been talking to? Any info or even rumours would be great thanks :)

    • I think it’s half-true.
      They must anticipate Kubica’s comeback and want to have a clause in second seat’s driver to fire him in that case.
      And to that Petrov didn’t agree.

    • mhop (@mhop) said on 9th December 2011, 13:58

      “Renault apparently told Petrov that the decision on whether he raced for them in 2012 was up to him.”

      Nonsense! If you’re talking about that interview with his manager from the other week she never once said he was offered a race seat (just talked about him possibly staying with the team).

      You’re living in cloud cuckoo land if you think Petrov is in a position to turn down any offer of a race seat.

      • I remember reading rhe interview (I think it was linked on one of the round ups) where it said Renault were waiting until the 10th of Dec for Petrov to make a decision on his future. I could well be wrong though as I don’t have the best memory and there’s no need to have a go at PM :)

        • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 9th December 2011, 23:02

          That’s the one I’m talking about.

          Grosjean was annouced shortly before 6am on December 9. Unless he and Renault were up all night discussing the contract and annouced it as soon as the ink was dry, the timing suggests that the earliest Grosjean signed a contract was on the evening of December 8. Petrov, however, was given until December 10 to make up his mind. If he wanted to stay at Renault, he had an extra two days up his sleeve, and that’s assuming Grosjean signed a contract two minutes after Petrov told the team he was leaving. Allowing for time to negotiate with Grosjean, Petrov could have left a week before the deadline. With just a handful of seats available, I can’t see him consciously deciding to leave Renault without a plan in place – especially considering that Renault gave him the choice and were apparently quite happy to keep him in 2012 if he wanted to stay.

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 10th December 2011, 16:18

            My view on it is, that the team told Petrov how much money he would have to be able to confirm bringing into the team by the 10th of December (probably to counter whatever Total was putting behind Grosjean+ a bit extra).

            So it looks as if Petrov’s management was certain enough that they would not be able to do so, or was reluctant to do so for Renault, taking their backers elsewhere with better chances before the set deadline.
            Probalby because they had relatively better opportunities at other teams.

  2. Tommo N7 (@tommothfc) said on 9th December 2011, 10:30

    The big question now is where does Petrov go? Can’t see him at Force India or Toro Rosso. I think he may wind up at HRT, as they probably could do with the money. Perhaps if Williams didn’t sign Maldonado up, Petrov could’ve gone to Williams and take his money there, negating the need for Maldonado. Williams are probably kicking themselves right now.

    Also, what about Senna? As with Petrov, can’t see him at Force India or STR, and can’t see him returning to HRT. I would like to see him at Williams, and perhaps we may see him there if Force India retain Sutil. Personally, I think Senna will stay on at Renault as 3rd driver.

    • According to Renault that won’t happen – ”

      Team principal Eric Boullier, who has pushed hard for Grosjean to be given another F1 chance, is confident the GP2 Series champion will do a good job next year – as he also wished Petrov and Senna good luck.

      “We were impressed when he drove for us in the first practice sessions in Abu Dhabi and Brazil,” he said. “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.”


      It seems they are leaving

  3. vjanik said on 9th December 2011, 10:31

    i hope Kubica starts testing an f1 car in 2012 and maybe replace Romain towards the end of the season.

  4. jonchuckle (@jonchuckle) said on 9th December 2011, 10:59

    Oh goody – the stupid bright red endplates stay. I was really hoping they’d ditch Total for 2012. Please Gerard, at least try and get them to go along with your own colour scheme (a la Red Bull)! I’m not cheering on another car that looks like Total have been sick on it.

  5. verstappen (@verstappen) said on 9th December 2011, 11:02

    I think this is à good choice, given they want to have à fresh start. I can only hope for Senna / Hulkenberg / DiResta / Sutil / van der Garde that all will end well. For that, we only need Trulli to leave Lotus (Caterham).

  6. Grosjean deserves a drive no doubt and Petrov has thoroughly underwhelmed me in his two years in the sport so why not give Grosjean the spot. Kimi and Grosjean must be bringing some sponsors, or Kimi’s management team putting in some money as otherwise why would they let Petrov take his large sum of money elsewhere.

    I hope Grosjean gets a decent shot this time, sadly I can’t see Kubica back this year if at all so he should get the season at least. As for Petrov, if one of Di Resta, Hulkenburg or Sutil loses out on a drive because of Vitaly’s money that would be very disappointing but a sign of how the F1 grid currently works.

    It’s a shame Maldonado’s already signed up for Petrov in that regard because Williams already have money, so can pick the strongest driver available for the second spot and that definitely isn’t Petrov. That’s assuming the Venezuelan government deal doesn’t go pear shaped which in all likelihood could happen, in which case Williams should snap Petrov up.

  7. I’m not surprised but it makes me feel a little uneasy about Renault or Lotus or whatever they’re called. I’ve always been a Ferrari fan but I had a mega soft spot for Renault but the way they treated Heidfeld and now ditched Petrov despite the contract really doesn’t sit well with me. I liked Petrov and Senna and thought both had talent. I’d personally have preferred a line up consisting of Senna, Grosjean or Petrov as it would have been a good step for the future of the sport. Congrats to Grosjean though as it would have been really harsh if his career had been defined by 09 when he was chucked in the R29 in awful circumstances when the team was a shambles but he’s definitely proved his talent since then. I bet that Grosjean outqualifies Kimi at the first GP weekend too :P

  8. TimG (@timg) said on 9th December 2011, 11:24

    A slightly surprising decision by Renault – my impression was that Petrov and Senna had done enough to show they were a safe enough number two for Raikkonen in 2012. But a pleasant surprise nonetheless.

    A good move for Grosjean – he’s always been quick but has been a bit reckless and prone to unnecessary incidents in the past. His GP2 season suggests he may be getting over that, in which case he should put in a decent showing alongside Raikkonen – he knows the team and should be reasonably familiar with the 2012 Renault/Lotus from the first race.

    Grosjean didn’t get a fair crack of the F1 whip last time around – he was parachuted into Renault at the last minute, with no testing, in a dire car and in direct comparsion to Alonso. He deserved another chance and now he has one – but he has to perform: there can be no excuses in 2012.

    So where next for Senna and Petrov? There are seats available for 2012 but Force India and Toro Rosso are likely to utilise the drivers they already under contract. What chance of Senna in a Williams-Renault?

  9. I think it’s damage limitation by Renault.
    They couldn’t get Kubica to race from start of the season.
    So they hired Raikkonen and needed second racer to have contract on race-by-race basis (in case Kubica will come back).
    Petrov didn’t agree on that term. So they signed Grosjean who is eager to get into F1 so much that he’s willing to risk to have a partial season seat in order to make good impression.

    I think less and less of Renault. First Heidfeld, now Petrov. Why do we have contracts in this sport?

    PS: BTW, i think Grosjean is excellent racer and deserved his place. So don’t think that i’m hater…

  10. damonsmedley (@damonsmedley) said on 9th December 2011, 11:31

    Renault aren’t doing much to endear themselves to the fans, are they? This whole Lotus saga is ultimately down to money and marketing; they don’t want to “restore a classic name to the sport” or whatever it was their press release said.

    I forgave them for the events of Singapore 2008 as I could see they were making an effort to start anew. They started 2010 with two new drivers, a brand new and delightfully good looking livery and new management. I really thought they conducted themselves well and they certainly won me over.

    But they’ve undone all of their hard work this year. First there was the Lotus/Lotus naming feud which was just ridiculous (I still believe Renault bullied Team Lotus when they could have just left it alone), and now there’s the way their drivers have been treated. Kubica had an accident and despite all of the support and the lovely ladies holding those “get well soon” signs for him in Melbourne, it’s looking very likely that even if we see Kubica fit to drive next year, he’s going to be without a seat. Then they ousted Heidfeld and thrusted Bruno into his seat without any preparation (which he handled very well and proved to me that he does have talent), before dropping Petrov despite the fact he supposedly had a contract for another season.

    Bruno, Vitaly, Nick, and Robert are all good drivers and very nice chaps. But the way they’ve been treated throughout 2011 has made me lose any respect I had for Renault. I want to like them, but I can’t, and I think that’s very sad.

    • I forgave them for the events of Singapore 2008 as I could see they were making an effort to start anew.

      I didn’t have a problem with Renault then. They were found innocent and it was just the 3 fools involved so that’s who I lost respect for. I actually felt very sorry for Renault that their name and team were dragged through the mud like that and thought that when it all came out in 09 they handled it maturely and calmly and it was great that they got the podium at Singapore.

      First there was the Lotus/Lotus naming feud which was just ridiculous (I still believe Renault bullied Team Lotus when they could have just left it alone)

      They’d argue they had every right to and were sticking up for their own cause. I thought both sides were wrong and selfish with that and didn’t think of the sport or the fans but nothing changes there.

      Melbourne, it’s looking very likely that even if we see Kubica fit to drive next year, he’s going to be without a seat

      I think they’re harsh but wise. After Massa’s accident I was sure Ferrari wouldn’t give him the seat back given the injury but they shocked me with how devoted they were. Kubica’s in an even worse situation because he’s been out so long. They should let Kubcia test and then take it from there. The problem was they seemed to make all these grand promises before that he’d be back and now they’re very quiet on the issue which makes them look like they’re ditching him.

      I agree with your point about quick Nick.

      I still like them ish but only because I’m stubborn but I do think they’ve made a big mistake with signing Kimi, how they’ve treated Nick and Petrov and I don’t think much of Eric as a leader given all of that and how badly Renault have done this year.

  11. maxthecat said on 9th December 2011, 12:42

    Grosjean doesn’t have the mental toughness for F1, i don’t see him lasting past 2012.

  12. A-Safieldin (@) said on 9th December 2011, 13:51

    Senna would have been the best choice he showed promise, he brought sponsorship (which is sadly an influential factor these days) and honestly he brought another dimension to the team, I always kept on eye on his performance after all he was the heir to the “Senna” name.

  13. The Limit said on 9th December 2011, 14:09

    I am not too surprised, but I think alot of this is down to Robert Kubica still not being ready to return to the fold. The question we must ask is that if Kubica were race fit and healthy, would Grosjean be driving for the team next year? I think we all know the answer. When Robert is ready though, I put my money on Grosjean being dropped just as quickly as Petrov and Senna have been.
    Grosjean has to prove his worth this year or thats it! He’s lucky to be getting a second bite of the cherry in my opinion, following lacklustre performances in 2009. As I have said, this all appears to be nothing more than a ‘stop gap’ measure for me. Grosjean, if he fails, will be nothing more than a seat warmer. He has to deliver way more than Petrov and Senna have done this year, and that certainly will not be easy even for a GP2 champion.
    Getting Raikkonen was an attention getter. Having Kimi onboard will certainly encourage more sponsors to the team and that is only a good thing. Maybe when Vitaly had is outburst in the press at seasons end, he knew his time was up. That bad choice of words may have even hastened his departure, I suppose we’ll never know. I am waiting for Kubica to return, when he does, then things will get interesting at Lotus.

    • Long way for Kubica to come back….his days probably are numbered sometime back. almost 2 years out of F1 (if he can come back), severe accident, presently physically weak, could have impact on mental toughness, no testing nowadays, now most likely lack of a strong car to show his worth (lotus is struggling)……..see Massa after the accident, see Michael Schumacher struggle after a gap of 3 years…….He made a mistake in going to rallying and most likely will pay dearly in terms of ruined F1 career.

  14. Adam Tate (@adam-tate) said on 9th December 2011, 15:33

    I knew it!

  15. OOliver said on 9th December 2011, 16:28

    Black Lotus should have retained Petrov.
    That way they’ll have a reference point for Kimi.
    Grosjean has not raced in F1 for a while now, and lets face it. It is very easy for a friday tester to be faster than the normal race drivers because of their short term focus.

    When Black Lotus said they were waiting for Petrov to choose if he will stay or not, I knew his role would be no more than a racing overall model.

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