Renault team principal Eric Boullier did an interview in l’Equipe newspaper at the weekend, which contained some interesting lines that did not get wide circulation.
They deserve deeper consideration as they appear to hint that some key personnel changes are imminent.
Under the headline “We miss Robert,” the 37 year old Boullier starts out by saying that the team lacks race management and points to Robert Kubica’s leadership qualities as something that are sorely missing,
“Robert put himself in a leadership role,” he says. “He’s a demanding driver, who knows what he can deliver and what he wants from the team. When he sees that things aren’t happening he can smash his fist down on the table violently. But with or without him we haven’t been good enough as a race team.”
The interview doesn’t reflect particularly well on the two drivers Renault are tackling the season with. Nick Heidfeld isn’t mentioned at all and although there are positive noises about Vitaly Petrov’s progress, he clearly needs a lot of managing.
Boullier has some unusual things to say about Petrov. Claiming that the Russian mentality doesn’t go well with “the arrogance of the English” he says that Petrov has moved away from English engineers and trainers this year and is doing much better as a result. He has a Spanish trainer and his engineers are Japanese and French.
Perhaps the most surprising comment is that Boullier has seen the need to put in place a fix-it man for Petrov, having identified that he’s not very good at basic self-care, “He needed someone to guide him, to get him about, to tell him how to behave at the track, what time to wake up, have breakfast, how to manage his day, be on time for meetings and so on,” he said.
But the really interesting point Boullier wants to make in the interview is that he seems to be on the verge of making some changes to the way the team operates at a management level. “It’s time to turn a page in our reconstruction of the team.,” he says. “In 2010 we (Genii) didn’t look into the track activities, we didn’t want to destabilise the team. We focussed on getting the factory right and efficient. Now it’s time to attack the next job, I would say that we are lacking an efficient management at the race track.”
This sounds like a signal that there will be some changes to the team, which has been running race operations when the team was Benetton and then Renault, formerly under the management of Pat Symonds.
Following on from last year’s embarrassing story about the team requesting an advance on its 2011 prize money, there were quite a few rumours circulating again about the financial health of the Renault team over the Monaco weekend.
However Boullier denies any problems, “We are calm,” he says. “It’s a period of transition, but we are getting through it remarkably well; we have a sponsor (Group Lotus) and solid partners. And if we ever needed a budget extension during the season, Genii Capital would be in a position to supply it.”