Romain Grosjean is Renault's third driver for the 2011 season.
French reports said the appointment is despite the Proton-linked Malaysian Fairuz Fauzy being recently signed as the Lotus-sponsored team's reserve driver.
24-year-old Grosjean made his F1 race debut with the same team in 2009 after Nelson Piquet was dropped, but he was not retained for last year.
He will also return full-time to GP2 in 2011.
"2011 will be my comeback year with a third driver spot at Lotus Renault and a whole season in GP2 and GP2 Asia with the DAMS team," announced the Swiss-born Frenchman.
"To be third pilot ... allows me to gain a huge amount of experience, to be in the paddock, to see people, and to understand what I was lacking in my first Formula One experience," added Grosjean.
"Now my idea is to be a race driver in 2012," he told French broadcaster TF1's Auto Moto.
The report said Grosjean will race this season if regulars Robert Kubica and Vitaly Petrov are unable.
Regarding his abortive initial career in F1, Grosjean said: "In motor sport you always need to be in the right place at the right time. When I got to Renault, this was certainly not the case.
"From a performance side, I was never ashamed of what I was able to do compared to (then teammate) Alonso.
"It is true that we were far apart on the grid, but when you're 2 or 3 tenths behind him in qualifying and the race, you can't say it was so bad," he added.