Following their success in the FIA appeal court yesterday, the Renault team today confirmed that Romain Grosjean will replace Nelson Piquet from this weekend onwards.
Interestingly the statement from Renault makes no bones about the fact that the ex Piquet, now Grosjean seat is occupied by the ‘second driver’. Not all teams like to talk about number one and number two drivers, but Renault clearly feel that with Fernando Alonso in the other car there is no point pretending otherwise.
Piquet complained of second class treatment from the team when he lashed out at team principal Flavio Briatore after his dismissal.
Grosjean, 23, has been on the scene for some time, waiting for his opportunity. He has been supported by Renault since he was 18 years old. This season he has been racing in GP2, where he was expected to dominate, but so far he has two wins to his name and something of a developing reputation as a driver who gets involved in incidents. He trails Nico Hulkenberg in the standings by 12 points.
It is a huge test for Grosjean, but he is better qualified for the step up than Jaime Alguersuari was when he made his debut in Budapest. Toro Rosso said that they expected nothing from him in his first three races. Renault have not said the same about Grosjean, who has not had the opportunity to test the car before his debut due to the in season testing ban.
Renault are currently 7th in the constructors’ standings with 13 points, some way behind Williams, McLaren and Toyota. It will be quite a challenge for them to improve their position significantly as all three teams have been making big improvements lately.
Briatore said, “We are happy to give Romain the chance to start racing with the team. He is an impressive young talent and we expect him to show his skills driving alongside Fernando as we take an aggressive approach to the second half of the season. We would also like to thank Nelson for his contribution during the time he has been with us and wish him all the best for the future.”
By ‘aggressive approach’, Flavio presumably means flat out on development, as they were in the second half of last season and aggressive on strategy, as they were at the recent Hungarian Grand Prix, running Alonso light to get him on the pole.