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Archive for February, 2011

I feel extremely sorry for Renault right now, partly because I believe they are a very good team of people who have been let down far too many times by both the actions of others and situations out of their control, and partly because last year’s resurgence made it look like they were once again heading back to the front of the grid where they belong. Of course, without Robert Kubica, this will be incredibly difficult. He’s a driver who has indisputable talent, is almost unanimously liked among both fans and F1 folk and, unlike the other leading figures in the most recent generation of F1 talent (Hamilton, Vettel), he has not been handed an opportunity for success on a plate. His return to the F1 paddock will undoubtedly be a very popular one, but until that day I wish him well and hope that F1 driver’s seemingly super human abilities of recovery ensure that his nasty injuries will not stand in the way of the future champion’s career.

Still, now Robert is recovering, attention turns to the situation his employers are left in, and it’s an extremely difficult one. There is little doubt in my mind that Renault have put together a more than decent car this year, and had Robert been racing, a championship win would not be out of the question. As much as I am a fan of Vitaly Petrov, he is still a second driver and has much work to do ironing out the errors of 2010, so taking Robert’s place is out of the question. And this has re-opened the unquestionable silliness that is, well, the silly season. Yes, the silly season has returned to haunt February, interrupting the expected talking points of testing, launches and just how rubbish Hispania will be this year. Names mentioned to take the number 1 at Renault have included strange piquet-mimicking Frenchman Romain Grosjean, surprise pole sitting sponsorship victim Nico Hulkenberg, Toro Rosso refugee and Hispania superstar Christian Klien, retirement denier Pedro de la Rosa, deadpan motivation seeker Kimi Raikkonen and bizarrely even Jarno Trulli, although I like to think his name was only mentioned because people have gotten confused between which Lotus team is which.

Renault have rubbished suggestions of expensive Finns and irate/drunk Italians turning up at Enstone, however, and have singled out their three preferred replacements. It appears the fight is between the team’s very own new reserve driver Bruno Senna (recently dumped from Hispania), unemployed Viantionio Liuzzi (recently dumped from Force India), and Mercedes reserve and fringe enthusiast Nick Heidfeld (not so recently dumped from the old Sauber/BMW operation). It’s a difficult, and frankly slightly uninspiring decision to make, and although Senna and Liuzzi have plenty still to prove and Heidfeld has several years experience (albeit not winning races) on his CV, none of the three will be able to fill the hole left by Kubica. It’s a sad situation that a team like Renault don’t deserve to be in, having dramatically turned the fortunes of the team around after their disastrous 2009 season, and with the Lotus/Lotus court case hanging over the team until after the first race (a casual observer may suggest that it is a court case they don’t have a particularly good chance of winning, but obviously I wouldn’t dare suggest such a thing unless, well, I already had) I wouldn’t blame some members of the team for looking eagerly towards the 2012 season. Still, as we well know, anything can happen in Formula 1 and if Renault can make it work with whoever is driving for them, it may be unwise to suggest we should forget about them just yet.

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