Lotus Renault GP have announced that Romain Grosjean has been selected to race alongside Kimi RÃ¤ikkÃ¶nen next season.
The 2011 GP2 champion, who completed seven races for the team in 2009 with a highest finish of P13, was Renault‘s reserve driver this year.
The identity of RÃ¤ikkÃ¶nen’s team-mate has been a matter of great speculation over the last week or so, and the announcement today means that Vitaly Petrov and Bruno Senna – who were also believed to be in contention for the seat – will have to look elsewhere for next season.
The recruitment of Grosjean has allowed Renault, who will be renamed as Lotus in 2012, to renew their major sponsorship deal with oil company TOTAL.
“I am thrilled to be one of the team's race drivers in 2012,” said the French driver. “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.”
Renault team principal Eric Boullier thanked Petrov and Senna for their efforts last season, and said that Grosjean’s achievements in 2011 had been enough to give him another chance as an F1 driver.
“I'm delighted that Romain Grosjean will side Kimi next year,” he 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.”