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Chris Bruce2012-03-15 15:32:41

Rookies for the 2012 Season

Rookies for the 2012 Season

Charlies Pic and Jean-Eric Vergne are the real rookies in Formula 1 this season, but Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean are coming back after some time away from F1.

Romain Grosjean will return to Formula 1 as a race driver for the first time since 2009 this season. He will race with the new Lotus F1 Team with Kimi Raikkonen as a teammate.

Grosjean entered F1 in 2008 first as a test driver for Renault when Nelson Piqet Jr became a driver for the team. In 2009, when Renault dropped Piquet at the 11th round of the season at the European Grand Prix at Valencia, Grosjean took his spot for the rest of the season. However, he was not able to compete at the level of his teammate Fernando Alonso managing a best finish of 13th place that season

In 2010, Grosjean became a very busy driver for hire. He was forced out of  Renault in place of Vitaly Petrov and Robert Kubica and became a test driver for Pirelli. Also in 2010, Grosjean raced in the FIA GT1 Championship in a Ford GT for Matech Competition. He raced the same car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans that year but did not finish. He also compted in the last three rounds of the Auto GP series for the DAMS team and was first in the series drivers' points standings.

For 2011, Grosjean raced for the DAMS team in the GP2 Asia series and main GP2 series. He managed to win the drivers' championship in both. He also became a test driver for the Lotus Renault F1 team in 2011, which lead directly to him becoming a driver for the team this year.

Kimi Raikkonen will return to Formula 1 for the first time since 2009 after taking the preceding years off to race in the World Rally Championship and NASCAR. Raikkonen was Formula 1 World Champion in 2009 when he raced for Ferrari. He was second in the drivers' championship when he drove for McLaren in 2003 and 2005.

Raikkonen started in Formula 1 in 2001 when he raced for Sauber. He moved to McLaren the next season and has had a very up and down career. Raikkonen has a tendancy to come in near the top or crash, especially early in  his career.

Since leaving Formula 1, Raikkonen raced for two seasons in the WRC in 2010 and 2011. He managed 10th in the drivers' championship both years.

In 2011 Raikkonen also tried his hand at NASCAR. He raced in one round of the Camping World Truck Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway and finished 15th. He raced in the Nationwide Series during the same weekend and finished 27th.

Jean-Eric Vergne is one of the two true rookies racing in Formula 1 this season. He will be racing for Scuderia Toro Rosso with Danial Ricciardo.

Vergne was born on April 25, 1990 in Pontoise, France, and began racing at a young age at his father's kart track. He raced karts during most of his young life in various series, but his big break came in 2007 when Vergne won 10 of 13 races in the Renault Campus series, now known as the French F4 Championship. His dominance caught the attention of Red Bull, and he joined the Red Bull Junior Team that year. In 2008 he won the Formula Renault 2.0 series.

Vergne was successful in two series in 2010. He was the British F3 International Champion and raced in six rounds of the Renault 3.5 Series winning four. His success allowed him the chance to test with Toro Rosso for two days that year.

In 2011, Vergne raced in the Renault 3.5 Series full time and was second place overall at the end of the season.

Charles Pic is the other true rookie this season and will be driving for Marussia.

Pic was born of February 2, 1990, in Montelimar, France. He got his start in racing in 2002 when his godfather, ex-Formula 1 driver Eric Bernard, offered him a chance to race in karting.

In 2006, he moved to the Renault Campus series and finished third overall. In 2007, he moved to Formula Renault 2.0 and also managed third. In 2009, Pic became a member of the Renault Driver Development program. He raced in the GP2 Asia series in 2009 managing fifth overall and continued into the full GP2 series in 2010 and manges 10th overall.

Last year, Pic raced in both series again. He came in 18th in the Asia series and 4th in the full series. Pic tested for Virgin Marussia in November, and the team liked him enough to pick him up as a driver.

Pic is being mentored by ex-Formula 1 driver Olivier Panis.




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