Lotus to confirm Grosjean on Friday UPDATE #2 This rumor is now 'fact' with today's announcement.
12/08/11 (GMM) 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 rumor 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."12/07/11 (GMM) Lotus has decided to pair Kimi Raikkonen with new GP2 champion Romain Grosjean next year. That is the exclusive claim of the Italian news source Italiaracing, citing "more than reliable French sources".
"There is no official announcement (yet) but the contract has been signed in recent days," read the report.
Frenchman Grosjean, who made his troubled F1 debut with the same team (then Renault) amid the 'crashgate' scandal in 2009, is handled by Lotus' new owner Genii Capital's management arm Gravity.
Also in the running for the seat were 2011 teammates Bruno Senna and Vitaly Petrov.
"Breaking the deadlock in favor of the Frenchman was not only his excellent performance in recent testing and his positive evolution as a driver in the last two years," explained Italiaracing, "but also a range of commercial considerations."
The report tipped Senna to now return to the reserve role, with Vyborg-born Petrov possibly ousting German Timo Glock as the Virgin team adopts the name of its Russian supercar partner Marussia for 2012. We have updated our 2012 F1 Silly Season page accordingly.