The sponsor package that came with Romain Grosjean was the strongest factor ahead of anything else, when Lotus were deciding which driver to partner Kimi Raikkonen for the 2012 campaign.
Lotus has had a tumultuous fall, after narrowly securing fifth in the constructors championship, the team were hoping that they could have their star driver Robert kubica back after his injuries in February. Then things started to go wrong. The management of Kubica said one thing, the doctors said another and Lotus said they didn´t know what to think. Then Petrov talked about the difficult season and slammed the performance of the car and lack of development, but soon team principal Eric Boullier said that they all had a nice little talk and everyone then thought Petrov was safe.
However, Petrov is out, completely, from Lotus and will have a tough time finding a seat,unless of course Vijay Mallya snatches him up for one of the seats still available at Force India. But the decision to sign Grosjean, is all about the best sponsors, says Jean Alesi.
Speaking as an ambassador for the team, Alesi admits that the fact Grosjean came with Total, the French oil company, was the deciding factor. His sponsorship package was simply better than Petrov´s.
“Grosjean is a beginner and he’s had a chance a few years ago, but France needs a French driver and I know he will have the support of Total, so why not?” French-Sicilian Alesi said.
Alesi praises Bruno Senna for his contributions to the team, saying that with the equipment provided, the Brazilian did very well. There are still rumours that Senna will be retained by Lotus a s test driver, but the official announcement is yet to come.
“For Bruno, what he did this year was great, especially as he started in the middle of the season. He had to jump in the car straight away and he has been quick. The performance of the car was sometimes good, sometimes not, but he managed to do his job in the best way. So it’s a shame – but Total did push very much for a French driver and they pay more…”
France has no proper representatives in F1 any longer, and with a major oil company as backer, and the proposed reinstatement of a French GP alternating with the Belgian GP at Spa-Franchorchamps, the future for French drivers, and a French GP, looks at least a little brighter.