Romain Grosjean will race for Renault in the 2012 Formula One season
Grosjean will partner returning former world champion Kimi Raikkonen
2011 pairing of Vitaly Petrov and Bruno Senna without seats for 2012
Renault will race under the Lotus name next season
Renault confirmed on Friday that French driver Romain Grosjean will partner former world champion Kimi Raikkonen for the Formula One team in the 2012 season.
Grosjean has previous experience racing with Renault, having taken part in seven grands prix for the UK-based French team in 2009 and participated in several practice sessions last season.
The 25-year-old’s arrival means Russian Vitaly Petrov and Brazil’s Bruno Senna, who finished 2011 for Renault, are without confirmed seats.
“I am thrilled to be one of the team’s race drivers in 2012,” this year’s GP2 champion Grosjean told F1’s official website. “There’s a big grin on my face at the prospect of getting behind the wheel of next year’s car.
“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 One will be a great experience, and I’m sure will help raise my level of performance too.”
Raikkonen, who clinched the drivers’ championship as a Ferrari driver in 2007, will make his return to F1 next year after initially leaving the sport in 2009.
Renault, who will adopt the Lotus name next season, had hoped Polish driver Robert Kubica would be fit to resume action in 2012 having undergone arm surgery earlier this year.
Kubica was ruled out of the entire 2011 campaign after sustaining serious injuries following a preseason rally crash in Italy.
“I’m delighted that Romain Grosjean will be beside Kimi next year,” team principal Eric Boullier said.
“Romain has shown a lot of maturity in the past 12 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.
“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.”
Grosjean’s selection means there are just six seats left to fill for the new season, with Force India and Toro Rosso yet to confirm any of their drivers.
Williams are also still to announce a teammate for Venezuela’s Pastor Maldonado, while Senna’s 2010 team Hispania have a seat available alongside veteran Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa.
The 2012 F1 season will begin on March 18 at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.