As expected, Renault F1 has confirmed that Robert Kubica will drive its lead car next season, having been signed as replacement for the soon-to-depart Fernando Alonso.
The 24-year old Pole has been linked to the seat since BMW announced its intention to withdraw from F1 at the start of the season and, despite revealing that he would be prepared to see out another year with any operation taking over the Hinwil-based Sauber-assisted outfit, was always expected to move on. Toyota threw a spanner in the workings of the rumour mill during last weekend's Japanese Grand Prix, when president John Howett admitted that Kubica was among his targets for 2010, but Renault's approach finally won out.
“We are very excited to have signed Robert," interim team principal Bob Bell commented, " Ever since he made his grand prix debut in 2006, he has been on our radar as one of the most naturally talented drivers of his generation and he has delivered on that promise, so it's great to have secured him in one of our cars next season.
"Renault has high ambitions and hopes for the future of the team and we feel that Robert can play a big role in fulfilling them.”
is currently recovering from the embarrassment of the Singapore 'race fixing' scandal involving former team principal Flavio Briatore, engineering director Pat Symonds and driver Nelson Piquet Jr, but Kubica has never let that affect his relationship with the Enstone operation. Indeed, the deal marks something of a homecoming for the Pole, who was passed over by Briatore despite a promising test outing four years ago.
“I am very happy that I will be joining Renault in 2010," he insisted, "I feel I have a special connection with this team because, in 2005, I won the World Series by Renault, which gave me the chance to test with the team in Barcelona, which, in turn, led to my debut in F1.
“I share with Renault a strong winning mentality and feel comfortable with their friendly and open attitude. I'm highly motivated and optimistic that, together, we can be at the front of the grid next year and, hopefully, fighting for the world title.”
Despite the usual post-deal comments, Kubica will be hoping that Renault starts 2010 in better shape than either of the past two seasons, following Alonso's return to the side. Of the two victories in 2008, one came in contentious circumstances, and Alonso's podium in Singapore this season was his first of the campaign.
Kubica's deal with Renault required the early termination of his contract with BMW Sauber, but there was never any question of the team holding him to the deal given the precarious circumstances that see it currently occupying the 'first reserve' slot for 2010.