* Grosjean to replace Piquet for rest of season
* Will race alongside Alonso in Valencia (adds detail, statement)
By Alan Baldwin
LONDON, Aug 18 (Reuters) - Frenchman Romain Grosjean has replaced Brazilian Nelson Piquet at the Renault Formula One team and will make his grand prix debut in Valencia this weekend.
The 23-year-old will partner Spain’s double world champion Fernando Alonso for the rest of the season, the team said in a statement on Tuesday.
“We are happy to give Romain the chance to start racing with the team,” said Renault principal Flavio Briatore.
“He is an impressive young talent and we expect him to show his skills driving alongside Fernando as we take an aggressive approach to the second half of the season.”
Grosjean, who will be France’s only driver on the starting grid after Toro Rosso sacked Sebastien Bourdais last month, welcomed the chance.
“I’m looking forward to driving the R29 and helping the team get the best results possible,” he said.
“It’s also an honour to be Fernando’s team mate and to make my Formula One debut alongside a double world champion is especially motivating.”
Swiss-born Grosjean, who had two victories in the GP2 series this season, was Renault’s test and reserve driver and the appointment had been expected after Piquet revealed two weeks ago he had been dropped after failing to score a point in the first 10 races of the season.
The Brazilian, whose father and namesake was a triple world champion, lashed out at Briatore in an astonishing statement earlier this month, describing the Italian, who also acted as his manager, as his “executioner”.
He also complained about his treatment compared to that of Alonso, the clear number one.
“The conditions I have had to deal with during the last two years have been very strange to say the least — there are incidents that I can hardly believe occurred myself,” said the 24-year-old.
Renault said on Tuesday that Piquet’s departure followed a “mutual agreement that this course of action is in the best interests of both parties.”
Briatore also thanked the Brazilian “for his contribution” and wished him the best for the future.
Brazilian Lucas Di Grassi will take over the reserve driver slot while also racing in GP2. (Editing by Peter Rutherford; To query or comment on this story email email@example.com)