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Grosjean to drive for F1's Lotus Renault next year

Updated: December 09, 2011, 10:49

PARIS(AP) Romain Grosjean will return to Formula One with another former world champion as his teammate when he pairs up with Kimi Raikkonen at Lotus next season.

Lotus Renault said in a statement Friday that Grosjean, who was a reserve driver during last season's F1 championship, got the seat after impressing during practice sessions at the Abu Dhabi and Brazil Grand Prix at the end of the season.

"I am thrilled to be one of the team's race drivers in 2012. There's a big grin on my face at the prospect of getting behind the wheel of next year's car,'' Grosjean said.

The Frenchman's previous F1 spell came in the second half of the 2009 season when he raced alongside two-time champion Fernando Alonso at Renault.

"(First) Fernando Alonso, now Kimi ... I'm lucky because you learn so much from drivers like that,'' Grosjean said Friday. "To be racing alongside a former world champion and someone who is hungry and returning to Formula One will be a great experience.''

Raikkonen won the F1 title in 2007 but quit in 2009 and switched to rally driving.

"He's a great driver and he's proved it,'' Grosjean said. "I think it will make for a good partnership.''

Grosjean's previous F1 tenure in 2009 was brief and unspectacular, however.

He failed to get a point as Renault endured a torrid season. In his last three races of 2009, the 25-year-old Grosjean finished 16th in Japan, 12th in Brazil, and 18th at Abu Dhabi.

Now he is desperate to prove he can win points.

"A dream that's becoming reality again. It's quite difficult to find the words to describe how I feel,'' Grosjean said. "It's a bit like a flame that is growing in intensity inside of me. I know how lucky I am to come back to Formula One.''

Russian driver Vitaly Petrov, who replaced Grosjean in 2010, and Brazilian Bruno Senna now both have to look for a new team.

"I would like to thank Vitaly Petrov and Bruno Senna for their contribution to the team's performance this year and I wish them all the best for the future,'' team principal Eric Boullier said. "Romain has shown a lot of maturity in the past 12 months both through his GP2 Series victory and his development as third driver with us.''

Grosjean won the GP2 Series championship this year.

He was previously a test driver on the Renault F1 Team in 2008.

"I feel that my successful season in GP2 Series has helped me mature a lot, and I am a much more complete driver than I was last time I was competing in this sport,'' Grosjean said. "I will not disappoint and I wish to thank all the people without whom this return to F1 would not have been possible.''

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