Grosjean blossoms into Lotus team leader

Sun Nov 17, 2013 8:09pm EST
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By Steve Keating

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Romain Grosjean was hailed as a future Lotus leader on Sunday after second place at the U.S. Grand Prix highlighted just how much progress the Frenchman has made since his 'first lap nutcase' days of 2012.

"You have represented Lotus in a very proud way," he was told by American great Mario Andretti, F1 world champion with the old Lotus team in 1978, in a podium interview.

"I guess number one in the team next year, right? Let's make it official."

Lotus have yet to announce their line-up for 2014, pending the promised arrival of new investors, but Grosjean is hitting a rich vein of form with six podiums so far this season.

Second place in Austin equaled the best result of his career and followed three third places in the last four races.

With 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen leaving the team at the end of the year, and absent from the last two races due to back surgery, Lotus have already made Grosjean the focus of their attention.

He repaid them with a storming drive after seizing second place at the start from Red Bull's Australian Mark Webber.

"A good result today, fantastic race," said Grosjean. "Being between the Red Bulls is a real was probably one of my best drives of the year."   Continued...

Lotus Formula One driver Romain Grosjean of France drives during the Austin F1 Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin November 17, 2013. REUTERS/Adrees Latif