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Grosjean gets second Renault seat

ESPNF1 Staff
December 9, 2011 « Watkins retires from FIA role | Kovalainen ready for 'a top team' »

Lotus Renault has announced that Romain Grosjean will drive alongside Kimi Raikkonen next season.

Grosjean - who initially raced for the team alongside Fernando Alonso in 2009 - will replace Vitaly Petrov, with Eric Boullier confirming his contract had been "terminated". Petrov did have a contract in place for 2012 but the team did not confirm Raikkonen's team-mate for next season when the FIA published its entry list, with Petrov admitting the team was considering his future.

The announcement of Grosjean as a race driver comes at the same time as Total extending its sponsorship deal with the team by a further year, and Grosjean admitted he was "thrilled" with the opportunity.

"I am thrilled to be one of the team's race drivers in 2012," 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 Series 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, which supports me since 2006, and Gravity Sport Management, are first on this list."

Team principal Boullier thanked the previous drivers of Petrov and Bruno Senna, but said he felt that the addition of Grosjean would help the team develop next season.

"I'm delighted that Romain Grosjean will side Kimi next year," Boullier said. "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."