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F1 NEWS 

Di Grassi lined up for Renault seat

Lucas di GrassiLucas di Grassi has emerged as the leading contender to replace Nelson Piquet at Renault next year if the French car manufacturer decide to drop the Formula One rookie, autosport.com has learned.

Although Piquet has scored one podium finish with a fortunate second place in the German Grand Prix, he has been unable to find the pace to match the team's number one driver Fernando Alonso.

Piquet did not help his cause when he crashed out of the Singapore Grand Prix last weekend - although ironically his error played a key part in helping Alonso triumph.

Sources close to the team claim that Piquet has not done enough to justify a second season with the team, and his situation was not helped when di Grassi impressed Renault with a solid three-day run during the recent Jerez test.

It is understood di Grassi not only did well in terms of his overall speed in Jerez but also shone in the swift way he got up to speed, as well as his positive attitude towards the team.

Renault boss Flavio Briatore is currently considering what to do about his 2009 driver line-up, although any final decision does depend on whether Fernando Alonso decides the stay with the team.

Sources have revealed that Briatore has already offered Piquet to Scuderia Toro Rosso for next year, but it is understood the team are not interested unless there is a big financial incentive.

If Toro Rosso do not take up the offer, then Piquet could well be consigned to just a test driver role next year.

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