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Grosjean the new ‘second driver’ at Renault
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Grosjean the new ‘second driver’ at Renault
Posted By: James Allen  |  18 Aug 2009   |  9:59 am GMT  |  16 comments

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.

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16 Comments
  1. Steve Price says:

    What I don’t understand is where does this leave his GP2 team – presumably they’ll be chuffed that their loosing such an asset?
    With Flavio at the helm, and the way in which Renault go about their business.
    Piquet never really managed to prove himself, which one can argue is the team, but still it was down to him to fight through that and I fear he wears his heart on his sleeve. He got caught up in the pressure exerted on him by Jaba the Hut, I mean, Flabio, no, Flavio.
    What will they do next year when Alonso (rightly) moves to Ferrari? Eat (carbon) dust Flabbio.

    1. Stevie P says:

      Kubica’s free, apparently?

      I mean for Renault, next year… not for Grosjean’s old GP2 team ;-)

  2. Racing not politics says:

    [quote] …Grosjean, who has not had the opportunity to test the car before his debut due to the in season testing ban. [end quote]

    why doesn’t Grosjean just “drive the car on track for promotional purposes” like Badoer is going to. Talk about taking advantages of loopholes…

    1. From what we can gather, the “promotional test” was of little value to anyone technically due to the restrictions put on the event

  3. Andy says:

    As I understand it the GP2 seat is a Renault development seat. Valsecchi shuffles up into it and is replaced at Durango by Stefano Coletti from F3 Euroseries – who’s apparently the son of an old mate of the team boss.

    As for Grosjean not testing, he did a straight-line test at Duxford in late-July – we had pictures: http://www.britsonpole.com/f1-renaults-duxford-test-suggests-piquet-out-grosjean-in-post13113

  4. artorwar says:

    No matter how much people want to bitch about Flav he is one smart cookie. He has been involved in some commanding cars and the development of some serious talent and I don’t really see how people can knock him. If there is a Renault on the grid next year I would expect to see Kubica in the #1 car which seems to be quite a good match really. Good luck to Romain, I expect him to do well really and I have total faith in the big fellows decision to give him a shot.

  5. Jim Hughes says:

    Who’s Grosjean’s manager? Flav?

    If so, why on earth would a young driver consider this poisoned chalice? It makes no sense unless he’s been guarenteed that he’ll be the number 1 next year.

    1. Tim says:

      Sometimes drivers have little option but to take the first seat that comes up and hope they can impress.

      Grosjean is a Renault-contracted driver, remember – turning down the seat would probably mean the end of that relationship. Besides, Grosjean’s current GP2 form is not such that he can take his pick of available F1 drives.

    2. To Me, To You says:

      I always wondered exactly how that worked, Flav being manager/agent of the drivers that he employs in his Renault day-job.

      The contract negotiations, i like to imagine it as one of those old Tommy Cooper one-man plays, with Flav hard-balling and wrestling himself for a bigger driver salary, turning round, claiming the team can’t afford it, bluffing that he’ll hire Hulkenberg, back and forth, all the while trying to mentally calculate his 15% of the final deal.

  6. A.Zeb says:

    I would like to see Falvio go from Renault and Pat Symonds take over as Team Boss. Pat comes across like exceptionally decent fellow.

    I am sure Pat would be a better Team Boss then Flav, however saying that perhaps Flav has what it takes to live and thrive in the Pirrahna club. Doing what Flav does best and this allows Pat the freedom to really get down to racing.

  7. Mark Stephens says:

    With Grosjean in the second seat we will all see Nando’s true personality as Grosjean is not one to be taken lightly and in my opinion we will see Nando mentoring him and helping him get into the groove.

    This mentoring will dispell all of those rumors about Nando not being a team player.. This will allow for Renault to get Grosjean up to speed and then start looking for another driver for when Nando starts riding the prancing horse here soon…

    I would say that Grosjean is going to push Nando a little bit and it will make the entire Renault team better.

    IMHO Grosjean has more talent than Hamilton did when he come onto the grid and Nando will up his game to stay ahead whereas when racing against Piquet he was on his own.

  8. I wish Grosjean all the best – I really do – but I really have to seriously question his form since Monaco.
    Apart from the odd spurt of speed, he’s been annihilated by Hulkenberg everywhere; however I’m also annoyed that it’s killed the GP2 championship in one big swoop. As improved and as good as Petrov may be, he’ll never catch NH in the remaining races.

  9. welshboy says:

    I can’t see why the team released Piquet in the first place. Everyone Alonso has had as a team mate at Renault, they’ve always played second fiddle to Him, at least that’s the impression I get.

    And sadly we’ve seen this before when someone has to play second fiddle to Flavio’s favourite.

    We saw it with Johnny Herbert, we’ve seen it with Kovaleinen, and we’ve seen it again with Piquet.

    And then at Hungary, Piquet was told, “you now have the same kit as Alonso…” What does that tell the driver about the way the team sees him?

    This is a guy who ran a certain Lewis Hamilton to the end in the GP2 championship, so it’s obvious that he doesn’t lack talent.

    Having said that though, this is his second year in F1, but with Renault experiencing a slump in form somewhat, Alonso always drives the wheels off anything he’s given, but I think Piquet’s pace could be seen as a true reflection of where the team are at presently.

    Aside from that, with testing restrictions and all that this year, how is Grosjean going to prove himself? With virtually no testing until he turns up to Valencia, he’s going to be dropped right in to the deep end. I really hope for his sake, and his career’s sake that he does well.

    Because we know what Flavio does when he doesn’t think his driver’s doing all he could…

  10. Peter Hermann says:

    Unfortunately, Mr. Symonds has a certain agenda in 1) wrong strategy decisions in races 2) being of a different oppinion than Alonso most of the time creating controversies in the team and ruining races for the drivers (we know that already from the championship years). So why would he be better than Flavio? Actually, i think they should both retire. Or Pat first. He was the one who rejected Brawns offer to close the loopholes (which lead to the double diffuser discussions).

  11. justin says:

    Hi James,

    This is not really relevant to your Schumacher post, but i get lost in all this new fangled web stuff so I’m posting here.

    Anyway I just read the preview quotes from Brawn for Valencia and there was not a single word on whether they thought they had got to grips with their problems or not. Do you think this is because they are nervous they have not found the problem or that they are keeping quiet ready to spring a surprise?

    Unfortunately i fear it may be the former since neither Jenson nor Rubens are exactly known for keeping things under their hats (which is great for the fans to know what’s going on I might add)

    cheers

    1. James Allen says:

      Good point, Justin. I felt the same way, although Button does say that everyone’s been flat out on development since the imposed two week shutdown. They’ve had quite a bit to say about their problems, what with Button, Brawn and Andrew Shovlin giving quotes, so perhaps they’ve decided to keep schtum. It’s unlikely that they feel they’ve cracked it as they’ve not been able to test, so they’ll only know if they’ve cracked it once they run in practice.

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