If Romain Grosjean still thought he was in with a chance of joining Robert Kubica at Renault F1 in 2010, the Enstone-based outfit's new team principal Eric Boullier has burst his bubble by proclaiming that of the five potential candidates for the available seat, only one of them is French – and he is the least likely to get the drive.
Before Christmas, Grosjean – who replaced Nelsinho Piquet at Renault in 2009 following the Brazilian's mid-season sacking, but generally failed to perform any better than his predecessor in the recalcitrant R29 – revealed that he has 'great confidence for the future' and 'trusts [the team] won't let me down after all the work we've done together since 2006' [see separate story – click here
Boullier, however – who has been appointed at the helm following the majority acquisition of Renault F1 by Luxembourg investment firm Genii Capital – seems to offer scant encouragement to the Swiss-born Frenchman, admitting that whilst a shortlist of drivers has now been reduced from ten down to five, a homegrown star in the second cockpit in 2010 is not looking likely.
Other drivers in with a shout look to be members of the Genii Capital-linked Gravity Sport Management programme, such as 1997 F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve or young guns Ho-Pin Tung and Jérôme d'Ambrosio, as well as experienced BMW-Sauber refugee Nick Heidfeld – who has partnered Kubica since the Pole's grand prix debut in mid-2006 – and well-backed GP2 Series front-runner Vitaly Petrov.
“There are several possible scenarios, one of them French,” ex-DAMS GP2 and A1GP team manager Boullier told French radio station RMC
, “but today, that is the scenario with perhaps the least chance of success. We have made progress, but are still far from being able to disclose the [driver's] name.”