Crash.Net F1 News
Renault F1 reveals first part of 2010 line-up
7 October 2009
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.”
The regie 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.
"Robert played an important role for us - and certainly we did the same for him," BMW Motorsport director Mario Theissen said, "He joined us in 2006 as a test driver with
no F1 experience, and then we promoted him to be one of our team's drivers during that season. He never let us down and, with our first pole position in 2008 in Bahrain and first victory the same year in Canada, he set milestones in the history of our team. We are grateful for his strong and constant performances and wish him all the best for his future."
Kubica admitted that the landmark moments will remain 'unforgettable moments' as he moves on.
"I'm very thankful to those responsible in the BMW Sauber F1 team for giving me the chance to get a F1 cockpit," he noted, "I think I justified the belief in me by delivering good results. For 2010, I will have a new challenge, [but] I wish everybody I worked with at the BMW Sauber F1 team all the best for the future. I'm sure that, in the future,
our paths will cross in F1."
Interestingly, the announcement from Enstone made no reference to the length of Kubica's deal, suggesting that it may, initially at least, be for just one season, and neither was there confirmation of his team-mate. Amid rumours that Romain Grosjean may not be retained after a lacklustre start to his F1 career as replacement for the disappointing - and later disgraced - Piquet Jr, there is speculation that another former Renault driver, Heikki Kovalainen, would be Kubica's preferred option, while Timo Glock and Adrian Sutil have both also been mentioned.