New GP2 Series champion Romain Grosjean insists that, while wanting to return to F1, his priority will be to tie down a deal for the 2012 season, rather than looking to break back into the top flight this year.
The French driver, who clinched the title one round from the end of the campaign, at Spa on Saturday, has been linked to a possible return to the Renault team for the final races of 2011. Team boss Eric Boullier is not only a fan of Grosjean's, but also involved in the management of his career via the Gravity offshoot of Renault owner Genii Capital, and has been asked regularly whether he intended to promote the Frenchman once he had clinched the GP2 crown.
The waters at Renault have been further muddied by the sacking of Nick Heidfeld, which resulted in Bruno Senna being promoted from the team's extensive reserve corps for Spa, but did little to quell suggestions that Grosjean may make an appearance in black-and-gold during the end-of-year 'flyaways'.
However, the seasoned GP2 competitor, who endured a tough half-season in the top flight following Nelson Piquet Jr's acrimonious departure in 2009 and has returned to the F1 threshold via sportscars and the 2010 AutoGP title, insists that he is not pinning his hopes on a return this year.
"I want to go back to F1, of course, but, at the moment, nothing has been decided," he claimed, "My management, LRGP and DAMS have been intelligent because they knew that, in 2009, after the third race of the season, I was only thinking about F1. This year, I did not want to make the same mistake, so I kept my focus on GP2 exclusively.
"I have been to the F1 paddock as little as possible to focus here. Now that we are champions, I will have a look at what is going on upstairs but, at the moment, my main concern is to find a good contract for 2012 and nothing else. At least we still have a few months to think about it. Hopefully, I can get a good seat in good conditions."
Many observers felt that Grosjean had little to gain by returning to GP2, but he admitted that, while under no pressure from Gravity to win the title, he wanted to prove that he was able to propel the DAMS team to the front of the field as well as taking the crown.
"I want to say that, at the beginning of the season, my management did not
tell me to win the series," he pointed out, "I'm a bit older than some of the drivers and I have more experience, so my personal goal was to grab the title. But I knew also that I wanted to push DAMS and help them to get back at the top. What they were missing when we started working together is not missing anymore. And I think they are the strongest team of the series this season. I am proud of what we have accomplished. I wanted this title very much because it was missing in my career. Now it's in my pocket, it's an amazing feeling.
"If you watch the results from last season, Barwa Addax, ART and iSport were stronger than DAMS but, this year, with the new car and the new Pirelli tyres, we worked very hard. I have to say that we were completely lost in Abu Dhabi, when the GP2 Asia season opened at the beginning of the year. Everyone thought we were hiding our true potential when we were P22 in the last test session before the season started. And then, we realised that we needed to just keep working and start again from the beginning and we took pole position. And then the car started to work again. We were strong contenders, but we were also a team that needed to prove that they were able to get back to the top, as they were a few years ago."