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Alesi: Sponsor swung it for Grosjean

While Bruno Senna and Vitaly Petrov try to secure their F1 futures, veteran Jean Alesi understands Lotus Renault's position in replacing them.
Former Benetton-Renault F1 pilot Jean Alesi has admitted that he can understand sponsors favouring Romain Grosjean's return to the top flight, even though the two drivers he replaced supposedly came with backing of their own.

GP2 Series champion Grosjean was confirmed late last week as the second driver at Benetton successor Lotus Renault GP for 2012, and Alesi underlined the support his countryman had received from existing team supporter TOTAL in grabbing the seat ahead of either Vitaly Petrov or Bruno Senna. Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion, had previously been announced as the team's first signing.

“Grosjean is a beginner and he had a chance a few years ago, but France needs a French driver and I know he will have the support of TOTAL, so why not?” Alesi, an ambassador for the Enstone team, told the Norwich Advertiser newspaper.

“TOTAL is delighted to give a young talented French driver the opportunity to fulfil his dream by becoming an F1 driver with the Lotus Renault GP team," Jacques-Emmanuel Saulnier, senior vice-president of corporate communications for the oil giant, confirmed, "An overall mission of our company, as is LRGP's, is to support young talented people and encourage them along the path to excellence and performance.

"The involvement of our group in the highest category of motor sport alongside Romain Grosjean, with whom we've formed a relationship based on trust over more than six years, goes far beyond the purely communications aspect. It shows our determination to develop the performance of our fuels and lubricants with the aim of achieving optimal energetic efficiency to help our clients reduce and improve consumption. F1 must embrace the perspective of clean technology and permanent evolution, and go back to its roots by becoming a laboratory for innovation once again.”

Despite understanding the motivation behind TOTAL's backing, Alesi was not entirely without sympathy for the 2011 incumbents displaced by Gravity-managed Grosjean.

“What Bruno did this year was great, especially as he started in the middle of the season," he said of Senna, who replaced Nick Heidfeld - himself a substitute for the injured Robert Kubica - ahead of the Belgian GP in August, "He had to jump in the car straight away [but] he has been quick. The performance of the car was sometimes good, sometimes not, but he managed to do his job in the best way. So it's a shame – but Total did push very much for a French driver and they pay more...”

Both Senna and Petrov have claimed that they are now exploring other options to remain in F1 next season, although there are few vacancies of note remaining. With just three weeks remaining to the New Year, the top five teams from 2011 have now filled both seats, with last season's number six, Force India, set to choose two drivers from three within the next few days. Sauber and Marussia Virgin have also confirmed their 2012 line-ups, while Caterham (nee Team Lotus) appears full, despite some uncertainty of the definition of Jarno Trulli's new contract. That leaves one seat at Williams, two at Toro Rosso and one at HRT so far unconfirmed, although it is unlikely that STR will look beyond its existing talent roster, leaving two realistic openings for a group that extends beyond just the two Renault rejects.

"I'm still working on next season, but I think it's looking much better than last season at this same time, so let's hope we can have good news," Senna revealed, before admitting that his brief spell at Enstone meant a lot, "It's difficult to say what's going to happen, but I'll always have Lotus in my heart.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
24.11.2011- Team Picture, Vitaly Petrov (RUS), Lotus Renault GP, R31
26.11.2011- Saturday Practice, Bruno Senna (BRA), Lotus Renault GP R31
09.04.2011- Saturday Practice, Jean Alesi (FRA)
Romain Grosjean. Lotus Renault GP
25.11.2011- Friday Practice 1, Romain Grosjean (FRA), Test Driver, Lotus Renault GP, R31
25.11.2011- Friday Practice 1, Romain Grosjean (FRA), Test Driver, Lotus Renault GP, R31
25.06.2017 - Race, Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Renault Sport F1 Team RS17
25.06.2017 - Race, Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Renault Sport F1 Team RS17
25.06.2017 - Race, Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas F1 Team VF-17 and Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes AMG F1 W08
25.06.2017 - Race, Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas F1 Team VF-17
25.06.2017 - Race, Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas F1 Team VF-17
25.06.2017 - Race, Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Renault Sport F1 Team RS17
25.06.2017 - Race, Alain Prost (FRA) Renault Sport F1 Team Special Advisor
25.06.2017 - Race, Felipe Massa (BRA) Williams FW40, Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Renault Sport F1 Team RS17 and Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Haas F1 Team VF-17
25.06.2017 - Race, Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas F1 Team VF-17
25.06.2017 - Race, Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas F1 Team VF-17
25.06.2017 - Race, Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Renault Sport F1 Team RS17 leads Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Haas F1 Team VF-17
25.06.2017 - Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Renault Sport F1 Team RS17 and Felipe Massa (BRA) Williams FW40

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SouvikB - Unregistered

December 13, 2011 1:53 PM

@Taz, so how do you reckon a driver becomes best in the world? By dropping out of a mother's womb and immediately racking world championships or through a stable environment where he can continue learning.No one is a born F1 racer.They have to practice.Michael put in more hours practicing and testing his car than even the test driver for the team.Button was nobody a few years ago,before he got a chance of his life with Brawn and full credit to him for grabbing the opportunity.Do you think before 2009 anyone would have considered Button as one of the best in the world?But today people can't stop singing his praises.He got to that level because he had a stable environment to work and learn.For what opportunity Bruno was given I think he did admirably.And don't tell me he was decimated by Klein because even Ayrton didn't qualify for one race at the beginning of his career and his teammate did.That didn't stop him from becoming the best in the world now did it?

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