Lotus Renault GP have announced a three a three-strong team of reserve drivers at the launch of their new car today, two of whom have previous Formula One experience.
Fairuz Fauzy – who was confirmed two weeks ago – will be joined by former Renault F1 racer Romain Grosjean and Hispania refugee Bruno Senna. The sight of the famous Senna helmet in the JPS-style liveried car could be quite something – if Bruno actually does any running for the team.
There remains some confusion over who the team’s third driver will be this year, and who would therefore step in to the shoes of either Robert Kubica or Vitaly Petrov were they unable to race. Initially the team stated that Malaysian Fauzy – who last year acted as reserve driver for Team Lotus – would fulfill the role.
“I would like to thank LRGP for giving me the opportunity to be their reserve driver and also to be part of the team known to be a very successful team. To be part of a team which is a frequent point scorer is an honour and this will give a big boost to my career and I’m looking foward for it,” he said following the announcement. Fauzy, runner-up in the highly competitive Formula Renault 3.5 series in 2009, will also race in GP2 this season for British outfit Super Nova. He was not present at the launch today as he is testing for the team in Abu Dhabi.
Grosjean too has declared himself the Enstone-based outfit’s third man, just days after getting the nod to race for French GP2 outfit DAMS. They raced as the Renault Junior Team in 2010 and retain strong links with the F1 squad.
“2011 will be my comeback year with a third driver spot at Lotus Renault and a whole season in GP2 and GP2 Asia with the Dams team,” Grosjean told the French press. “To be third pilot allows me to gain a huge amount of experience, to be in the paddock, to see people, and to understand what I was lacking in my first Formula One experience. Now my idea is to be a race driver in 2012.”
With a total of three official reserve drivers and next-to-no testing allowed in F1 it’s hard to see what the trio will gain – particularly Senna. Whilst Grosjean and Fauzy will at least be keeping sharp in GP2 (with the Frenchman considered a genuine title threat) Senna has no racing plans for the coming season. If he doesn’t secure something soon he could spend the year doing little more than modeling the team’s newly branded gear on the pitwall.
In addition to their reserves Lotus Renault GP have also kept young drivers Ho-Pin Tung and Jan Charouz on the books for 2011. Both – as well as Grosjean – are managed by Gravity Sports, a company owned by LRGP shareholders Genii capital.