Dec.9 (GMM/Inautonews.com) As speculation surrounding the identity of Kimi Raikkonen’s 2012 teammate goes into overdrive, clarity may now be just around the next bend.
International media reports claim the former Renault team, to be known as Lotus F1 Team from next season, is ready to make an official announcement on Friday that will complete its next driver lineup.
There have been plenty of reported candidates, ranging from the team’s 2011 lineup Bruno Senna and Vitaly Petrov, refugees from other teams like Adrian Sutil and Rubens Barrichello, and even drivers under contract like Caterham’s Heikki Kovalainen and Virgin’s Timo Glock.
Indeed, with Virgin assuming the identity of the Russian supercar marque Marussia from 2012, it is reported that Lotus might swap Vitaly Petrov – who has a contract – with the similarly 2012-contracted Timo Glock.
“The owner of the (Lotus) team Gerard Lopez has said that the driver alongside Raikkonen will be experienced,” reported Italy’s Tuttosport.
“Glock might be just the name the team is looking for.”
An even wilder rumour is that Kamui Kobayashi’s contracted place at Sauber could now be in doubt, even though Blick newspaper insists that the speculation has “surprised” officials at the Hinwil based team.
Indeed, the talk about Glock and Kobayashi appears wildly wide of the mark, with the authoritative Auto Hebdo (France) and Speed Week (Germany) reporting that Lotus has actually decided to promote the Genii-managed new GP2 champion Romain Grosjean.
Autohebdo.fr claims that a board meeting has been held at Enstone this week, confirming that Eric Boullier is staying as team boss, with his French countryman Grosjean arriving as race driver.
An announcement could be made “in the coming hours”.
Speed Week writer Peter Hesseler agreed: “We hear from Enstone that Lotus will on Friday confirm Grosjean as the second race driver for 2012 alongside Kimi Raikkonen.”