Following on from the driver switches at HRT and Team Lotus in recent races, there is more movement with Bruno Senna being given a chance to drive the Renault in Friday morning practice in Budapest.
The Brazilian has been in a reserve driver role this season after a difficult debut season with HRT last year.
Nick Heidfeld’s seat with the team is under review, the veteran German has not performed as well as expected against Vitaly Petrov – it is seven to three in qualifying to the Russian – in the seat left vacant by Robert Kubica’s accident.
But it is thought that if Heidfeld is to be replaced before the end of the season it will be towards Romain Grosjean that the team will turn.
Team principal Eric Boullier is an admirer of his fellow Frenchman, who currently leads the GP2 series with four wins. Grosjean was drafted into the team in 2009 after the sacking of Nelson Piquet, but with no testing and up against Fernando Alonso in the other car he didn’t look great. Boullier believes he deserves a second chance.
“He wasn’t ready in 2009 and those seven races alongside Alonso did him a lot of harm,” Boullier said over the weekend. “He’s proved in GP2 this year that he’s a very good driver and he deserves a chance.”
The word is that as soon as he wins the GP2 title, it’s thought the 25 year old will be drafted into Heidfeld’s car. The final rounds are at Monza in early September, but he may have it wrapped up by then.
There is a lot of pressure for France to be represented on the grid. It’s an unprecedented situation for the country which gave a name to the races not to have at least one driver in the field.
Renault is no longer the owner of the team, merely the engine supplier, but due to its historical ownership of the team and the complications in
changing names, it is still called Renault. The team is owned by Luxembourg based investment firm Genii.
The team is somewhat in limbo about drivers, going forward, as it waits to see what happens with Kubica. Everyone is remaining positive and Kubica’s rehabilitation is going well, but if he is able to recover sufficient feeling and movement in his severed right hand to drive an F1 car competitively, it will be a miracle.
Boullier also confirmed that Renault would continue to work on the rear-facing exhausts they tested with Heidfeld on Friday. “The drivers set identical lap times with different exhaust layouts, so it makes sense to investigate the rear exhausts more because that will help us to develop next year’s car, he said.”
(Additional Reporting: Tom Clarkson)
(Photo: Lotus Renault GP Team)