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Formula 1: Romain Grosjean To Partner Kimi Raikkonen at Lotus Renault in 2012

Neil James@NeilosJamesFeatured ColumnistDecember 9, 2011

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 11:  Romain Grosjean of France and Renault drives during practice for the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit on November 11, 2011 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Lotus Renault have announced 2011 reserve driver Romain Grosjean will partner Kimi Raikkonen for the 2012 season.

The Frenchman was given the race seat after impressing the team in Friday practice for the final two races of the year.

Grosjean drove seven races for the Renault team in 2009 season with no success.  In 2010, he won the AutoGP series (formerly F3000 Euroseries), and followed this up by becoming the GP2 champion in 2011.

In a statement, 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 One 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.

The news was not entirely unexpected.  Lotus Renault team principle Eric Boullier is the CEO of Gravity Sports Management, which represents Grosjean.  Also involved in the company is founder of Lotus co-owner Genii Capital, Gerard Lopez.

"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," Boullier's statement read.

Grosjean will be hoping for more success in 2012
Grosjean will be hoping for more success in 2012Clive Mason/Getty Images

"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."

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Grosjean's elevation to the race seat leaves 2011 Lotus drivers Vitaly Petrov and Bruno Senna to join the fight for the scraps.

Toro Rosso will pick from Red Bull's young drivers, while Force India look certain to name Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg in the next week.

A single race seat at Williams alongside Pastor Maldonado is the only realistic opportunity available in the midfield, though Adrian Sutil is the heavy favourite.

A slot is also available at HRT alongside Pedro de la Rosa, but it's unclear whether either man would wish to take such a step backwards at this stage of their careers. 

We should know for sure in the coming weeks.