Fresh from his victory at the Race of Champions, Romain Grosjean has been confirmed at Lotus for another season of Grand Prix racing.
The Swiss-born Frenchman made his full-time return to the sport in 2012 with the Enstone-based squad, and while he impressed many with his outright speed, he was involved in countless first-lap incidents.
The lowpoint came after the Belgian Grand Prix, when he was the first driver this century to be hit with a one-race ban after triggering a first-corner pile-up that took out championship contenders Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.
Grosjean’s F1 comeback came after an underwhelming seven-race spell with Renault (as the Lotus team was then known) in 2009. He returned to GP2 the following year and won the championship in 2011, before landing the opportunity to return to F1 with the team.
His season began brilliantly with a top-three qualifying result at the Australian Grand Prix, only to be taken out of the race on the second lap by 2012’s other fender bender, Pastor Maldonado.
Further strong qualifying results followed in Malaysia and China (finishing sixth in the latter), before he had a sensational outing at the Bahrain Grand Prix to finish on the podium.
Further podium finishes followed at the Canadian and Hungarian Grands Prix, but the shadow of all-too-frequent racing accidents – as was evidenced in Spain, Monaco, Britain, Germany, and then Belgium – put his seat at risk.
Furthermore, it prompted the FIA to ban him from the Italian Grand Prix in the hope to teach him a lesson.
It didn’t seem to work, as more at-fault retirements followed in Japan and Brazil, as well as another crash at Abu Dhabi (although this wasn’t his fault, for a change). Grosjean finished eighth in the 2012 Drivers’ Championship standings, 111 points behind third-placed team-mate Kimi Räikkönen.
His seat was in serious jeopardy, but it has been his underlying pace which ultimately prompted Lotus team principal Eric Boullier to offer a not-unexpected contract extension.
“It’s fantastic for me to be continuing with Lotus F1 Team for 2013,” Grosjean said in the team’s overnight media release. “It’s superb to have the support of everyone at Enstone. I’m really looking forward to rewarding their faith when we take to the track in Australia.
“I learnt a lot in my first full season in Formula 1 and my aim is to put these lessons into practice with stronger and more consistent performance on track next year. There are a lot of exciting developments occurring behind the scenes at Enstone and I am very excited with the prospect of the E21. I just can’t wait to get behind the wheel.”
Grosjean will once again be paired with Räikkönen, leading Boullier to argue that he has one of the best driver line-ups for the 2013 season.
“With the continuity of two exceptional drivers like Romain and Kimi we are well placed to build on our strong 2012 with even better results in the year ahead,” he said.
“Both drivers worked very well together and I think there is the potential of even better things from the season ahead. We were regular visitors to podiums in 2012 and we certainly intend to continue with this trend in 2013.”