And the winner is…. Romain Grosjean!
Lotus Renault have announced that Romain Grosjean will occupy their second race seat in 2012. The French driver will partner 2007 champion Kimi Räikkönen.
The announcement comes after weeks of speculation regarding Lotus Renault’s driver line-up. Robert Kubica recently announced that he would not be available for the beginning of the season, which raised the question of who would drive the second car. Grosjean’s appointment means that 2011 Renault drivers Vitaly Petrov and Bruno Senna are now searching for teams for 2012.
Grosjean has driven in Formula 1 before, when he partnered Fernando Alonso at Renault for the last 7 races of 2009. Grosjean did not impress during that season, and was dropped for 2010. He subsequently competed in the FIA GT1 series briefly before winning the 2010 Auto GP (previously called Formula 3000) championship. In 2011, he comfortably won the GP2 championship, showing that he has developed strongly as a driver since his first attempt at Formula 1.
The past 2 seasons have been quite tumultuous for Lotus Renault. They have used 4 drivers (Robert Kubica, Vitaly Petrov, Nick Heidfeld and Bruno Senna), which has not been ideal. The team needs continuity to develop and that is something that has definitely been lacking recently.
Lotus Renault have gone for a mix of youth and experience for 2012. Kimi Räikkönen has been around for a long time and won a World Championship. Romain Grosjean has proven himself in the lower single-seater categories. It looks like a combination that can take Lotus Renault forward, as long as they put in the time to make it work.