GP2 Series racer, Romain Grosjean, has taken what appears to be another step towards securing his Grand Prix debut, after being asked by Renault to participate in a number of straight-line tests.
Grosjean, 23, has been widely tipped to replace Nelson Piquet Jr, who remains underfire after a lacklustre second season for Renault.
The news comes after an apparent war of words broke out, earlier this week, between Piquet and his Team Principal, Flavio Briatore.
Speaking to Autoprint, Briatore admitted that he expected more from his driver, after Piquet’s woeful Hungarian performance, where the Brazilian qualified 12th and finished 15th, despite his team mate snatching Pole Position.
“I’ve always been fair with my drivers,” said Briatore. “I expected more from Piquet because this is his second year with a full-time drive. He’s done less testing compared to Alonso, but Webber as well tested less than Vettel because of his broken leg, but look where he is now.
“When a driver lacks results, he opens the book of excuses and begins: the fault is the weather’s, a spectator’s sunglasses, a spin on the straight, this and that…
“It’s not true that there’s a technical difference of seven tenths between Alonso’s and Piquet’s car. If that was true, we’d have a car capable of winning the title, and that unfortunately isn’t the case. The technical difference has always been minimal and never longer than one race.”
Briatore’s comments were later countered by Piquet when speaking to an Italian magazine, with the Brazilian claiming that the Renault Supremo has no respect for him.
“Flavio is a business man, but he doesn’t understand s*** about F1,” Piquet was quoted as saying. “He’s my manager, but in his role of team boss he doesn’t respect me.
“He only thinks about money, at how much money he can pocket in everything he’s involved, he’s a man with no friends. Every day everyone asks me what’s going on, so why should I always keep quiet?
“Webber has been in F1 since 2001, he started in a different era, when testing wasn’t limited. He’s probably done more than 20,000 kms in testing, so it’s not a fair comparison. Now the situation is more difficult for a driver with little experience.
“And besides that, I have to fight against Briatore and Alonso himself, who is a fantastic driver. When I wasn’t competitive in qualifying, I was the first to own up to it. But if Briatore doesn’t understand that, what can I do?”
Grosjean’s straight-line tests took place, this week, on the runaway of the Duxford Imperial War Museum in Cambridgeshire.