GP2 Series title protagonists Barwa Addax have confirmed that Davide Valsecchi is to replace Romain Grosjean for the remainder of the 2009 campaign following the latter's graduation to Formula 1 with Renault – beginning in Valencia this weekend.
Grosjean's performances for Barwa Addax during the first half of the season – including early victories in Barcelona and on 'home' turf in Monaco and a further rostrum finish in Spain – allied to the Swiss-born French star's F1 testing form, convinced the Régie
to give him his top flight bow in this weekend's European Grand Prix in place of the sacked Nelsinho Piquet.
Whilst Valsecchi – who parted company with Durango earlier this month [see separate story – click here
] – had been strongly linked to the former Campos outfit alongside championship challenger Vitaly Petrov, the move has only now been officialised. Both the Italian and Grosjean are members of the Renault Driver Development (RDD) programme, and Valsecchi is in his second season in the F1 feeder category, having finished 15th in his maiden campaign last year and eighth in the 2008 GP2 Asia Series, with a single victory to his name in each.
After being classified fourth in the 2008/09 Asia Series – just two points adrift of the runner-up laurels following a win in Shanghai and a trio of further podiums along the way – Valsecchi currently sits just 13th in the 2009 GP2 Series title chase, with a rostrum finish for third place in Turkey back in June one of only two points-scoring results from twelve starts to-date this year.
The former World Series by Renault ace will have big boots to fill indeed in stepping into Grosjean's cockpit, with Barwa Addax team owner Alejandro Agag paying tribute both to F1's latest newcomer as well as Lucas di Grassi, who competed for the squad last season and following Grosjean's promotion has himself been elevated to the role of third and reserve driver for Renault. The Brazilian now races for Racing Engineering in GP2.
“Romain has been without doubt the shining light of the current season in the GP2 Series,” commented Agag, “and he has shown a tremendous sense of gratitude to all the members of the prestigious Barwa Addax Team for the way he has been treated and for the great work carried out together. He is also grateful for the opportunity to demonstrate his undoubted talent and the capacity to continue making progress in his sporting career.
“It has been a pleasure to work with Romain and Lucas di Grassi. We are absolutely delighted with their progress and their step up to Formula 1, because for the drivers it gives them the experience of the essence of a working union in the last stage before the main class in world motor racing. The whole team wishes them the very best in their promising sporting careers, at the same time thanking them for their hard work and dedication and for their efforts during the time in which they formed part of the Barwa Addax Team.”