Romain Grosjean, Renault, Abu Dhabi, 2011

Grosjean takes Petrov’s place alongside Raikkonen

2012 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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”

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

  2. A-Safieldin (@)
    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.

  3. 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.

    1. 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.

  4. I knew it!

    1. me too, inside of me…I even hinted the move at the Kimi’s return.

  5. 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.

    1. But they have a reference point for Kimi: the podium!

  6. I feel sorry for Senna, I think he has proven that he has the talent and potential to be good given the chance. But with the line-up as it is at Lotus (Renault), perhaps he has a chance at Williams.

    Which, I think would be a little strange given that Williams changes its engine supplier to Renault, and correct me if I am wrong, but wasn’t the Williams in 1994 powered by a Renault engine also?

  7. Wow! Another surprise! So odd that Petrov won’t be on the grid with this team next year. I can see a contract being broken on the grid to get him and his money in however.

    I wish Grosjean all the best, and it’s going to be very interesting for this team next year. To announce two drivers that are ‘coming back’ to the sport as a line up after a significant time away is unusual.

  8. themagicofspeed (@)
    9th December 2011, 17:25

    My fantasy calendar, would be:

    Ferrari – Alonso/Vettel
    Red Bull – Webber/Massa
    McLaren – Button/Rosberg
    Mercedes – Schumacher/Raikkonen
    Renault – Sutil/Grosjean
    Force India – Di Riesta/Hulkenberg
    Sauber – Kobayashi/Perez
    Toro Rosso – J E Vergne/Buemi
    Williams – Barrichello/B Senna
    Lotus – Kovalainen/Trulli
    Virgin – Algersuari/Alex Rossi
    HRT – couldnt care less.

    You’ll notice some drivers missing..
    Hamilton, Glock, Maldonado are missing, among others.

    As a Ferrari fan, i don’t ever want to see Lewis Hamilton or Timo Glock ever again…or Vitaly Petrov for that matter… not to mention the fact that judging by his attitude to rules and racing equitette, Hamilton belongs in Cadet Karts. Glock and Petrov on the other hand, are just championship wreckers (from my view, as a stubborn and opinionated Ferrari nut). Also, while ever Adrian Newey is still alive and Vettel is at Red Bull, Ferrari will never win anything ever again – solution = get Vettel in a’s a start..

    1. themagicofspeed (@)
      9th December 2011, 17:32

      fantasy grid sorry, not calendar. these are just what i would put on the grid, not necessarily everyone’s opinion of course.

    2. Petrov and Glock didn’t wreck championships and I’m a huge Ferrari fan too. Glock actually gave Massa his best shot by not pitting and what messed Ferrari up was their own bad strategy (and their poor car after Spain and early mistakes in the year)

    3. I think you’ve been quite conservative with your choices here. As a “stubborn and opinionated” Ferrari fan, you could have had something like this:

      Ferrari: Fernando Alonso, You
      Red Bull: Adrian Newey, an actual red bull
      McLaren: Jeremy Clarkson, James May
      Mercedes: Angela Merkel, Joachim Löw
      Renault/Lotus: Nicolas Sarkozy, Michel Roux
      Force India: Sachin Tendulkar, Shilpa Shetty
      Sauber: Sepp Blatter, Felipe Massa
      Toro Rosso: Silvio Berlusconi, Gianfranco Zola
      Williams: Pastor Maldonado, Frank Williams
      Lotus/Caterham: Fairuz Fauzy,
      Virgin/Marussia: Vladimir Putin, Mary of Nazareth
      HRT: Rafael Nadal, Shakira

      With no-one to challenge them, Ferrari could win every time, and wouldn’t that just be great? Perhaps you should go the whole hog and get rid of the other teams completely!

      1. I couldn’t even think of a second driver for Lotus/Caterham.

        1. @estesark – Jarno Trulli would do just fine.

      2. Ferrari: Fernando Alonso, You
        Red Bull: Adrian Newey, an actual red bull
        McLaren: Jeremy Clarkson, James May
        Mercedes: Angela Merkel, Joachim Löw
        Renault/Lotus: Nicolas Sarkozy, Michel Roux
        Force India: Sachin Tendulkar, Shilpa Shetty
        Sauber: Sepp Blatter, Felipe Massa
        Toro Rosso: Silvio Berlusconi, Gianfranco Zola
        Williams: Pastor Maldonado, Frank Williams
        Lotus/Caterham: Fairuz Fauzy,
        Virgin/Marussia: Vladimir Putin, Mary of Nazareth
        HRT: Rafael Nadal, Shakira


        1. themagicofspeed (@)
          10th December 2011, 12:03

          yes, it did make me laugh quite a lot too. COTD at least surely, just for the comedy value?!

    4. perfect topic for a forum – i suggest you copy and paste this on the forum or move it there.

      1. themagicofspeed (@)
        10th December 2011, 12:05

        i will do – i’ll see if there is any other like it in the forum, and if not, make one :)

  9. If Sutil does not get a racing seat for next year…I will not be impressed. I don’t think Grosjean deserves a Lotus seat when there is Glock, Sutil and Kovalainen in slower cars but besides that I cant wait and see what he can do.

  10. I think Grosjean is in a very good place right now. His F1 debut was very difficult, but this time he can definitely surprise.
    Raikkonen has been out of F1 for 2 years. And Schumacher showed us that it can be very hard to jump in a car and perform better than your younger team mate.
    Obviously F1 in 2012 will not be very different compared to 2009, and Grosjean in 2012 will not have the amount of experience that Rosberg had in 2010, so I don’t think that Grosjean will be faster than Raikkonen, as Nico was against Michael.
    But the tyres are different, and Grosjean knows them quite well. We saw this season that some drivers struggled to get used to the Pirellis and if this happens to Kimi, Romain will be in a very good place.

  11. sid_prasher (@)
    9th December 2011, 19:29

    We need a 13th team I think :)…too bad for Senna – I thought he did better than Petrov in the chances he got…

    Fingers crossed for Sutil now…maybe he should stay back at FI and then FI can rotate whoever makes lesser points in every race…

    1. They both have the money between them to practically start they’re own…;) And it should be called Screw You F1 Team.

  12. I cant work this out one bit,This is surely a step back for Renault(now Lotus).

    The worst part of it is that there’s no valid reason behind Petrov being replaced by Grosjean rather than Raikkonen replacing Senna and Petrov still maintaining his seat.

    Other than Petrov’s outburst,which was understandable & honest or obviously MONEY along with Sponsorship.I really feel for Petrov,who’s done little wrong & simply couldnt deliver without a strong package.Life can be really unfair at times but we move on & let go

  13. Grosjean will need to seriously up his performances from 2009 if he wants to stay at Renault! I’m still not convinced he’s a very good driver, and I think the only reason he is there is because of the French connection within the team.

  14. I hope Grosjean turns out to be good. It seems Genii capital asked for results in terms of points, which didnot happen with Petrov, Heidfeld, Senna—-so all are out. Now time for Kimi & Grosjean to perform or likley they will also have same fate next year.

  15. The title of the article should have been “Grosjean re-takes Petrov’s place alongside Raikkonen”. Technically, Petrov took Grosjean’s seat in 2010

  16. well I hope grosjean goes well too, but he,ll probably be out on his ear at the end of the season, anyway why should I care about Boullier and his lot as he/they have taken over from Torro Rosso as my least favourite teams.

    1. What’s wrong with Toro Rosso?

  17. French racing drivers are like buses. You spend forever waiting for one, and then two come at once.

    1. What about Vergne ?
      Wasn’t there the possibility that he went to Torro Rosso ?
      That would mean 3 French drivers…

  18. I’ve been thinking about something else that has come up recently and might have influenced Petrov and Renault: the Russian elections.

    When Petrov entered Formula 1 in 2010, he did so with the backing of the Russian government. Vladimir Putin even test-drove a Renault show car. It was part of his “macho image” campaign designed to show him off as a strong leader for Russia ahead of the upcoming presidential elections. He drove a Formula 1 car, shot a polar bear with a tranquiliser gun, and even invented his own signature move for judo bouts (he is quite possibly the only world leader who can defend himself without the need for a bodyguard).

    Putin was expecting a landslide victory in the elections, but the Russian public didn’t oblige him. Instead, he and his United Russia party have been forced to form a minority government to stay in power. The public have some confidence in him, but not enough to entrust running the entire country to Putin and Putin alone. Because Putin’s power depends wholly on the public, that power – like all political might – is entirely transient. It can change at a moment’s notice. And with Putin’s position weakened, the financial support Vitaly Petrov receives is not as secure as it has been for the past two years. I doubt this would have affected his standing with Renault, but it might influence his value with other teams unless he can find some private backing (of which he already has some).

    Perhaps the best move for him is to join Marussia, because a Russian driver in a (proper) Russian team would attract a lot of Russian sponsors. But it would probably come at the expense of Charles Pic; Timo Glock’s contract allows him to leave if he receives an offer from a top-four team, but Marussia are unlikely to give him up. If Marussia wanted Petrov, they’d have to find a way out of Pic’s contract.

    1. Not only Putin’s party got majority of the seats (at least for now, courts pending), but there wasn’t presidential elections yet. And there he will win by landslide. Results of parliament elections was predicted.

      I don’t see how our elections could influenced Petrov’s contract.

      1. themagicofspeed (@)
        10th December 2011, 12:17

        It would make better commercial sense to ditch Pic (who is he anyway?), and have:

        -2 drivers with 2011 experience
        (1 driver with a lot of experience and a GP2 championship under him (Glock)
        -1 Russian driver who is reasonably quick, can bring sponsorship with him and attract more sponsors from Russia, and be an ambassador for motorsport in Russia (Petrov).

        Surely it’s a no-brainer for a struggling team like Marussia?

        If i’d been in a position to decide the drivers for 2012, i would have kept the 2nd seat open until Petrov’s future was decided, and then snapped him up when he lost his Renault seat.

        It’s too risky giving a race seat to a GP2 driver with very little F1 experience, in a team that needs strong drivers with sponsorship potential – which is exatctly what Petrov could provide.

        1. “It would make better commercial sense to ditch Pic (who is he anyway?),”

          And you are ?

          1. themagicofspeed (@)
            10th December 2011, 12:57

            No, im not saying im anyone special – i just dont know who he is – i assume hes a GP2 import?

      2. Yeah, I bet Putin will now be very carefully planning to make sure he does win by a landslide @mr-prayer!

        He did “win” the elections now, even though he very probalby did not have enough real votes to do so in these election, but a bit of election rigging did the trick there ;-)

    2. I’ve been thinking about something else that has come up recently and might have influenced Petrov and Renault: the Russian elections.

      I suppose decision to prefer Grosjean’s money over Petrov’s money was more commercially driven. Those Lada stickers on Lotus cars looked ridiculous taking into account widely different marketing niches of those manufacturers.
      May be there is some connection with deteriorating situation in Russia. But I doubt considerations of that sort could play decisive role in this case. Anyway Petrov’s position looked stronger than Maldonado’s for that matter. He wasn’t sponsored through 100% -government owned enterprises (like PDVSA). Government support for him isn’t popular in Russia but it didn’t cause anything even remotely approaching public outrage either (at least I didn’t hear of any opposition politicians in Russia trying to turn it into politically sensitive problem like in Venezuela).
      But I bet political considerations can return Petrov or some other Russian driver on the grid in 2013/2014 (to Marussia specifically). Russian government is heavily committed to the success of regional development programs in Southern Russia (Winter Olympics and Sochi grand prix in particular). Russian driver in Russian team on the grid of first ever Russian grand prix – sounds like a great selling point for Fomenko if he is interested in extracting some support for his team from Russian government.
      But I’m afraid for now that’s the end of it for Petrov in F1. Kosachenko has already spoken to Russian sites about some “new program for Petrov to be announced” and extended her gratitude to everyone who supported them during these two years. Presumably they are bowing out from F1 to move into some other category.

  19. Timo Glock’s contract allows him to leave if he receives an offer from a top-four team, but Marussia are unlikely to give him up.

    That’s some contract. Anyway, why would Marussia unlikely to give him up? Glock has 4 years in F1, Petrov has 2. Glock is paid to drive while Petrov is bringing the money in.

    To me, the choice is clear: dump Glock hire Petrov and use Petrov’s money to develop the car. If the next year’s car is slow then Glock won’t make much of a difference (as he’s proved it in the last two years).

  20. themagicofspeed (@)
    10th December 2011, 12:09

    I think it would be brilliant sense, to ditch Alguersuari and have Vergne and Buemi in Toro Rosso. Vergne impressed in the YDT at Abu Dhabi – his best time would have been good enough for 5th place on the grid, so he’s got pace – and although a bit of a live wire, fundamentally Buemi is a good racer – he has made more overtakes this year than anyone else, if i remember correctly. Alguersuari hasn’t exactly set the world on fire since his debut – neither though has Buemi so that’s a hard choice to make.

    1. STR should stick with their current drivers. Vergne’s time in the YDT were irrelevant as far as I’m concerned. Ricciardo last year set a time that was 1.3 seconds than Vettel’s pole time! And look where he’s ended up. The jury is still out about his ability.

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