Vitaly Petrov's future is 'in his own hands', Renault F1 team principal Eric Boullier has affirmed – as he concedes that the Russian rookie is presently 'lacking some consistency to get the points he deserves' but insists the Enstone-based outfit is 'totally committed' to helping him to achieve his goals.
From the opening half of the F1 2010 campaign, Petrov has tallied just six points – and all in one fell swoop, with a combative seventh place in the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai back in April – whilst team-mate Robert Kubica has notched up no fewer than 83.
The GP2 Series graduate's main Achilles' heel has been his qualifying form – only twice making the top ten on the starting grid from ten attempts, whilst Kubica has never failed to reach Q3 – and his fast-but-wild tendency in the races has all-too often seen the 25-year-old run inside the points during grands prix but not ultimately finish there.
What's more, with Renault bidding to overhaul Mercedes Grand Prix in the battle for fourth spot in the constructors' standings – and currently trailing its Brackley-based rival by 37 points – the Oxfordshire concern needs both
of its drivers to be scoring on regular occasions.
Petrov's inability to do so thus far has led to speculation that should a big-name sponsor come on-board for 2011 – and MasterCard has been mooted – then a big-name driver will follow, and the name on just about everyone's lips at the moment is that of 2007 F1 World Champion and World Rally Championship-convert Kimi Raikkonen. Force India's Adrian Sutil has also been linked with the cockpit alongside Kubica, leaving Boullier to reflect that the 'Vyborg Rocket' holds the key to his own destiny.
“His future is actually in his hands,” the Frenchman told Renault's post-British Grand Prix podcast. “We have not been disappointed by him – he clearly is the best rookie in the paddock. He has done some amazing jobs sometimes, but he's clearly lacking some consistency to get the points he deserves.
“We definitely need to have both cars scoring points, so that's obviously creating some rumours surrounding his race seat, but we are totally committed to him. We are happy to have him on-board and we will do everything we can to help him take the final step to where we want him to be. We now expect him to have some strong weekends and to have good pace and get in the points.”
Boullier went on to reveal that Renault hopes to introduce an F-duct onto its R30 in the not-too-distant future, as part of a raft of upgrades as the former double world champions bid to gain the upper hand over reigning title-winners Mercedes.
“We have some very good developments coming up over the next two or three races,” he explained. “We have some updates for tracks like Singapore, Monza and Budapest – specific aero upgrades – and we have some good upgrades including the F-duct coming, so that is quite promising for the rest of the season and I can't wait to have all this on the car.
“There are two steps of F-duct coming, but [its debut] it depends on the schedule because Budapest is a much tighter track, so we don't need to have it there. Maybe we will get it before, but very likely just after.”