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Renault drivers play it cool over Grosjean appearances

ESPNF1 Staff
November 2, 2011 « Red Bull duo to perform demo run in Milton Keynes | Button's new deal for three years »
Romain Grosjean will take Bruno Senna's place in FP1 in Abu Dhabi and Vitaly Pertov's place in FP1 in Brazil © Sutton Images

Renault race drivers Vitaly Petrov and Bruno Senna insist Romain Grosjean's scheduled appearances at the final two Friday morning practice sessions of the season adds no extra pressure on them to perform in the races.

GP2 champion Grosjean will take Senna's seat in Abu Dhabi during first practice and then occupy Petrov's cockpit during the same session in Brazil. Renault says the move will "offer him [Grosjean] precious experience of driving the R31 during a race weekend and will make him a better driver", but there is speculation that Grosjean is being groomed for a possible race seat in 2012. At the moment Renault is waiting to hear whether Robert Kubica will be fit to compete in Formula One next year, but has made clear it is also assessing options in case he does not make a full recovery from his injuries.

Petrov has a contract with Renault for 2012, which he confirmed to ESPNF1 he has full faith in, and said the Grosjean news will make little difference to him.

"I'm comfortable, I have my place," he said. "I think it's a very good opportunity for Romain, to give him some laps to drive. At least we know the track so it's not a big problem, if it had happened in India then yes it would be a bigger problem. I think it's a good chance for him to try and then the team can decide whether he is good or not. I know it's too short a time [to make a full analysis], but at least he can learn what to do."

Senna, who joined the team six races ago to replace Nick Heidfeld, said he would not be too badly affected by handing over his car during first practice in Abu Dhabi and believes the intense competition for race seats in 2012 is not out of the norm.

"I think out of the Friday losses I'm taking the smaller hit because Abu Dhabi will be very dirty to start with on Friday," he said. "So it should be OK for me to jump in the car in the afternoon and still get some good work done with the guys. It's competition, but competition is there every time you're in the car in Formula One so there is nothing wrong with it."