The Lotus squad will decide by the end-of-season Brazilian Grand Prix whether it intends to keep Romain Grosjean for a second year, according to team principal Eric Boullier.
Speaking with Sky Sports F1
to address the Frenchman's latest first lap misdemeanour - in which he turned Mark Webber around at Suzuka last weekend - Boullier admitted that no deal had been struck with the 2011 GP2 Series champion, despite the team having been impressed with other areas of his game. Lotus is understood to be poised to confirm that Kimi Raikkonen will lead its line-up in 2013, having met the performance clauses in the Finn's contract, although that deal is being kept under wraps while an enigmatic 'what will Kimi do next' video plays out online....
While Grosjean has shown undoubted pace since returning to the top flight, he has also posted five retirements - not all of his own making - and been benched for one race, at Monza, as a result of incidents that have incensed some of his rivals. Webber referred to him as a 'first lap nutcase' after their collision in Japan, while members of the Sky
broadcasting team suggested it was time for Lotus to dispense with his services once and for all.
"I will tell you, obviously, by the end of the season," Boullier said in response to questions regarding Grosjean's future with the team, "We are now a couple of races to go through and make sure he understands the message and he's delivering at the start what we expect him to deliver.
"I think the kid has the speed and, obviously, if you look at the global picture of this season, and if you fix this issue at the start of the race, he did a very decent job and he will deserve to have another chance in F1, at least longer term."
Lotus has been mentioned as a possible destination for a couple of drivers thought likely to be looking for work this winter, but is widely expected to remain with an unchanged line-up, particularly as Grosjean has shown flashes of potential, both in qualifying and in posting seven scoring results - including three podiums - among his nine race finishes
"I have to say Romain, since Suzuka, or even before let's say, has drastically changed and got more matured," Boullier added, reflecting on the ban that saw his charge sitting out the Italian GP with time to reflect on his year to that point.
Just one race before, he had been held accountable for a mass pile-up at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix that eliminated both Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, but not all of the first lap incidents involving the #10 car have been Grosjean's fault, despite his critics suggesting otherwise.