He might have endured a disappointing start to his grand prix career in the latter stages of the F1 2009 campaign, but Romain Grosjean insists he is hopeful of staying on-board as a race driver at Renault next year, calling on the team not to 'let me down after all the work we've done together since 2006'.
Renault sold a majority 75 per cent stake in its Enstone-based F1 operation to Luxembourg investment fund Genii Capital last week [see separate story – click here
], meaning that whilst the struggling French car maker will no longer be involved in the sport as a manufacturer in its own right, the name will remain, for the time being at least.
Where the deal leaves sole 2010 signing Robert Kubica is less clear, with the Pole's management team understood to be carefully examining his contract to determine whether the sale triggers a get-out clause that might enable the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix winner to jump ship to Mercedes Grand Prix should Michael Schumacher's planned comeback fail to materialise again.
That means there will be either one or two seats available at Renault next season, and despite having failed to demonstrate any marked improvement on the driver he replaced in the cockpit of the second R29 in 2009, Nelsinho Piquet – qualifying no higher than twelfth in seven appearances and never even coming close to threatening the points – Grosjean is confident of being given an extended stay of execution.
“Now we know the new Renault owner and we know that the brand will continue in grand prix racing, I trust they won't let me down after all the work we've done together since 2006,” the 23-year-old Swiss-born Frenchman told French sports newspaper L'Équipe
“I had a great experience competing in seven grands prix as team-mate to Fernando Alonso last season. We didn't take victory but, for me, Fernando was the best driver of the year; I'm not ashamed of my performance against him, and it gives me great confidence for the future.”
Meanwhile, Piquet – who departed the F1 paddock with his tail between his legs back in the summer after blowing the whistle on the 'Singapore-gate' race-fixing scandal following his brusque mid-season dismissal by Renault – has revealed that his plans for next year are beginning to crystallize.
The much-criticised Brazilian has not raced full-time since his July sacking, but he has been linked both with the seat alongside compatriot Bruno Senna at F1 2010 newcomer Campos Meta 1 and with a switch across the Pond to compete in NASCAR circles, having tested a Camping World Truck Series Toyota Tundra for Red Horse Racing at Rockingham Speedway in North Carolina two months ago.
“About next year guys, there are some very good things going on, thank God,” the 24-year-old wrote on his personal Twitter page. “I will decide about it soon, very soon.”