Options shrink for GP drivers

The 2012 Formula 1 grid was still taking shape as Motor Sport went to press, but it was already clear that several regulars from the past season will be without jobs. Rubens Barrichello, Adrian Sutil, Vitaly Petrov and Bruno Senna were among those without a confirmed place.

The biggest news is Kimi Räikkönen’s comeback with Lotus, while Frenchman Romain Grosjean will return from F1 exile to partner the former World Champion.

The Franco-Swiss driver raced for the team under its previous guise as Renault in 2009 after he was drafted in to replace Nelson Piquet Jr. He was dropped at the end of the year having performed poorly alongside Fernando Alonso, but has since rebuilt his reputation by winning the GP2 title.

Also coming back is Pedro de la Rosa (below), the 40-year-old having signed a two-year deal with HRT, while French GP2 graduate Charles Pic (middle) joins Timo Glock at Marussia, the team’s third rookie second driver in as many years.

As we closed for press Force India was expected to announce that Nico Hülkenberg had graduated to a race seat alongside Paul di Resta after a season as the team’s third driver.

That would have left Adrian Sutil – who finished ninth in the 2011 World Championship behind the top four teams’ drivers – still looking for a position. The German was a favourite to land a place at Williams, where Pastor Maldonado has been confirmed for the new season.

There was no firm news on Scuderia Toro Rosso as Red Bull decides what to do with Sebastian Buemi, Jaime Alguersuari, Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne.

Of the other teams, Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes, Sauber and Caterham (formerly Team Lotus) have unchanged lineups, although there is some doubt over Jarno Trulli’s position at the last named.