Posted on July 25, 2011
Screen shot 2011-07-25 at 16.52.12

Following on from the driver switches at HRT and Team Lotus in recent races, there is more movement with Bruno Senna being given a chance to drive the Renault in Friday morning practice in Budapest.

The Brazilian has been in a reserve driver role this season after a difficult debut season with HRT last year.

Nick Heidfeld’s seat with the team is under review, the veteran German has not performed as well as expected against Vitaly Petrov – it is seven to three in qualifying to the Russian – in the seat left vacant by Robert Kubica’s accident.

But it is thought that if Heidfeld is to be replaced before the end of the season it will be towards Romain Grosjean that the team will turn.

Team principal Eric Boullier is an admirer of his fellow Frenchman, who currently leads the GP2 series with four wins. Grosjean was drafted into the team in 2009 after the sacking of Nelson Piquet, but with no testing and up against Fernando Alonso in the other car he didn’t look great. Boullier believes he deserves a second chance.

“He wasn’t ready in 2009 and those seven races alongside Alonso did him a lot of harm,” Boullier said over the weekend. “He’s proved in GP2 this year that he’s a very good driver and he deserves a chance.”

The word is that as soon as he wins the GP2 title, it’s thought the 25 year old will be drafted into Heidfeld’s car. The final rounds are at Monza in early September, but he may have it wrapped up by then.

There is a lot of pressure for France to be represented on the grid. It’s an unprecedented situation for the country which gave a name to the races not to have at least one driver in the field.

Renault is no longer the owner of the team, merely the engine supplier, but due to its historical ownership of the team and the complications in
changing names, it is still called Renault. The team is owned by Luxembourg based investment firm Genii.

The team is somewhat in limbo about drivers, going forward, as it waits to see what happens with Kubica. Everyone is remaining positive and Kubica’s rehabilitation is going well, but if he is able to recover sufficient feeling and movement in his severed right hand to drive an F1 car competitively, it will be a miracle.

Boullier also confirmed that Renault would continue to work on the rear-facing exhausts they tested with Heidfeld on Friday. “The drivers set identical lap times with different exhaust layouts, so it makes sense to investigate the rear exhausts more because that will help us to develop next year’s car, he said.”

(Additional Reporting: Tom Clarkson)
(Photo: Lotus Renault GP Team)

Senna to test Renault in Hungary, but Grosjean is the real target
108 Responses

  1.   1. Posted By: lecho
        Date: July 25th, 2011 @ 5:25 pm 

    If Grosjean deserves a second chance, then Senna definitely deserves his first.

    [Reply]

    unoc12 Reply:

    Agree. Started racing very very very late. Nearly won GP2. Massive imporvements throughout the year.

    Watching Nicolas Prost and Bruno Senna is so sad, both started racing as adults. Both are better than anyone else who started racing at teh same time yet they appear to not be able to get up to the top standard because of starting too late… :(

    [Reply]

    Renn S Reply:

    Why did N Prost start racing so late?

    With his fathers history you would have thought that he would have had the training early.

    [Reply]

    Chieftain Reply:

    F1 is money and i don’t think that it would be better to take Senna instead of Grosjean. Would you take someone for your team who started driving with 35 years because he drives better than everyone else who began to race with 35?

    [Reply]

    lecho Reply:

    I don’t really get your point. Both Senna and Grosjean have their own sponsors. Both of them also did well in junior racing series. Also both of them had their chance to showoff in F1 and as long Senna wasn’t shining, he at least wasn’t as messy as Grosjean was.

    Comparing the machinery they had in use I would say that Senna did slightly better. I know, Klien, etc., but he understood that F1 cars are undriveable on grass :)

    [Reply]


  2.   2. Posted By: Lilla My
        Date: July 25th, 2011 @ 5:29 pm 

    I didn’t think Grosjean was that bad in 2009. Of course, considering the circumstances, it was impossible for him to be brilliant, but I remember he surprised me with still being better than I expected.

    However, I would prefer Senna to take Heidfeld’s seat if Heidfeld is to lose it – I think HRT wasn’t a car good enough to assess his abilities, so he deserves another chance in a better car that could better reflect what he’s capable of.

    I think that Senna’s drive in FP1 in Hungary must have some hidden intention (or maybe I’m too suspicious?).

    James, do you think it’s a warning for Heidfeld (urging him to do better) or a kind of trial for Senna? Or maybe both?
    And if Grosjean is about to take Heidfeld place, why give Senna the chance and not Romain?

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    Contractual reasons.. FInancial reasons maybe

    [Reply]

    DB Reply:

    Won’t Grosjean be busy in GP2?

    [Reply]

    Andy C Reply:

    He may have the title wrapped up by September, so presumably they’d replace him and he’d win the title anyway.

    DB Reply:

    I meant, won’t he be busy in Hungary and that’s why it’s Senna with the chance now and not him.


  3.   3. Posted By: J. S.
        Date: July 25th, 2011 @ 5:31 pm 

    That photo gave me a start! At a glance, I thought it was confetti raining on a victorious Lotus with Senna waving to adoring crowd… then I looked more closely and it’s Heidfeld in the gravel trap gesturing at Buemi.

    [Reply]

    wayne Reply:

    It’s a great photo/video/Screen-grab. Very dramatic! Heiddfeld did not even wait for the car to come to a stop before he began gesturing!

    [Reply]


  4.   4. Posted By: Andy C
        Date: July 25th, 2011 @ 5:32 pm 

    To be honest I can completely understand the frustration with Heidfeld. They turned to him instead of Senna and Grosjean because of the percieved benefits of an experienced driver.

    In reality Petrov has done a sterling job this year, and I’ve thought he has really matured quite well for Year 2.

    I always thought Roman came into Renault on a hiding to nothing in 09 and it really affected him. Glad to hear that he’s a serious consideration for next year.

    Personally I’d like to see them use Senna this year, as I still think given a good car he’d do a great job in F1.

    Hopefully even if he doesnt get a race drive this year, it should highlight his potential.

    It will be interesting to see him in Hungary. I hope he really does well.

    Btw, I was very dissapointed with Karun last weekend. I know he struggled, but on brake materials surely the team can change between brembo and carbon industrie. He just didnt seem to get going properly.

    [Reply]


  5.   5. Posted By: irish con
        Date: July 25th, 2011 @ 5:42 pm 

    i dont really rate petrov or heidfeld if im being honest. senna and grosjean were both better in gp2 than petrov. heidfeld is just slow and steady. a worse version of jenson button.

    [Reply]


  6.   6. Posted By: Gene
        Date: July 25th, 2011 @ 5:57 pm 

    The lesser talked-about consequense of the testing ban is this situation where veteran drivers (Barrichello, Trulli, Schumacher, Heidfeld, De la Rosa) are given more of a shot than younger, inexperienced talent. This is probably generally true at any time, but the pendulum has swung too far now. Masking the problem is the addition of Virgin, HRT and Lotus. Without the new teams, where would the spots be for younger drivers? They’ve got to cut their teeth somewhere, and as Grosjean found out, it’s not ideal to jump into an F1 car directly at a Grand Prix weekend. Hell, it’s not even ideal jumping into a DIFFERENT F1 car directly at a Grand Prix weekend, as Giancarlo Fisichella found out at Monza in 2009.

    Also, although it may be 7-3 in favor of Petrov in qualifying, we’ve seen that qualifying isn’t as vital as it was the past. In the race, Heidfeld has a 6-4 advantage (and two of those were DNFs, one in Canada where he was leading Petrov at the time, and one this past Sunday after a lap 1 collision sent him to the back of the field, and led to him being taken out by Buemi). So the race tally could easily be 8-2 in Heidfeld’s favor against the Russian.

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    Thanks for that

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    CartRider Reply:

    I always was amused by such one-sided comments. By all means, Petrov was not slower than Heidfeld this season.

    First of all, on average, Petrov qualified on 9.1 place, while Heidfeld’s result is 13.3. It’s 4 place difference – bigger than in any other team including Mercedes and Ferrari, where Alonso is destroying Massa 10-0 (while in Renault, it’s 7-3).

    Second, Petrov’s average result in races is 10.9, which is slightly better than Heidfeld’s 11.4. If you mentioned that Heidfeld had 2 DNFs, you had to be fair and mention and Petrov had 2 DNFs too, for either of which he can’t be blamed – in Monaco, where Petrov was very well placed before a mass crash right in front of him, and in Malaysia, where he went wide from the track and jumped on a tussock and where Petrov also was set to score points).

    In any event, Petrov has nearly as many points as Heidfeld, whereas almost everybody was sure during the winter that the German would once again confirm that Petrov was not bad just compare to Kubica, but fundamentally very slow. Of course, the team also hoped that Heidfeld would lead the team with all his experience and help the team with the development of the car. As we can see, it didn’t happen, the car is getting slower and slower, and Heidfeld is not demonstrating any leadership characteristics. It means that either Heidfeld is not delivering. In this situation, there is no reason to stick with him, while there are drivers hungrier for F1 racing and, in addition, with some sponsorship.

    [Reply]

    unoc12 Reply:

    Agree… a lot….
    +1
    Well said

    (was going to say similiar but now wont post…)

    [Reply]


  7.   7. Posted By: Onyx
        Date: July 25th, 2011 @ 6:01 pm 

    Grosjean is the real deal..but if they are going to run him arent they better off letting him test in the winter and start afresh in 2012 rather than risk a repeat of 09?And what of Bruno?Could this friday run be a way of getting him up to speed for Brazil?
    I would dump Heidfeld straight away,he has been useless!And dont get me started on Chandhok!He was rubbish and hopefully will never drive an F1 car again!

    [Reply]

    zombie Reply:

    If Chandhok was “rubbish” in a dog of a HRT, what about Senna ? They were evenly matched while with HRT. If Senna deserves a permanent seat with a decent F1 team,then so should Chandhok!

    About replacing Heidfeld, i feel sorry for him. He has always been a no non-sense driver who delivers but has never had half a chance to drive for a championship contender team. The decision to go with Grosjean/Bruno is more likely a sponsorship decision. Remember Renault is said to have asked an advance on their 2011 money,so obviously they are not in prime state financially. Add to this Heidfeld’s own comments before the season that if he could get some money from sponsors then he can get a seat. Obviously, Senna (thanks to his famous name) and Grosjean with French connections have money and will most likely push Heidfeld out of Renault.

    Team Lotus if they have intentions of replacing Trulli next season should look at Heidfeld, he can be a real asset along with Kovalainnen.

    [Reply]

    unoc12 Reply:

    They weren’t evenly match. Senna smashed Chandhok as teammates non the less in GP2, then in HRT Senna’s car didn’t have all teh equipment of the sister car Klien/Chandhok drove… just things like a faster ‘seamless’ gearbox, etc…

    [Reply]

    zombie Reply:

    Going by that logic, Giorgio Pantano should be driving a Ferrari..NO! Chandhok had 7 retirements/DNS in 2008 compared to Senna’s 4. 5 of Chandhok’s retirements were mechanical. If you compare the races where they both finished, there is next to nothing in between them,just the way there was no clear favorites while they were in HRT . I have no clue where you got the information about Chandhok having a “superior” car compared to Senna ? Just like Chandhok wouldn’t be anywhere near an F1 seat if not for the money poured in by Indian conglomerates, Senna wouldn’t be anywhere near an F1 seat had it not been for his last name.

    Martin,UK Reply:

    Seems funny that you’ve said Chandhok should be given a chance then said Heidfeld should get Trulli’s seat in preference to Chandhok who is already at Team Lotus.

    [Reply]

    zombie Reply:

    That’s quite simple : I rate Heidfeld higher than Chandhok/Senna. Heidfeld is a proven entity, Senna and Chandhok are not!

    unoc12 Reply:

    Kubica COULD be back.

    Teams currently have too many drivers

    FI have Sutil (28 points) Di Resta (2 points but performances are better than results show) and Hulkenberg

    STR have Alg, Bu and Ric

    Renault have Kubica (fastest) Hiedfeld (2nd fastest) Petrov (money) and Senna

    McLaren have Paffet (not slow) Hamilton and Button

    then you just need to chuck Raikkonen into that who hasn’t decided (according to an interview a couple of days ago) what he wants to do…. sounds like F1 if he gets a sweet gig (min publicity stuff, biggish pay check and a car to win), rally if he gets a decent gig (factory spec car), or nascar if he starts to do well… (unlikely.. the highlights were a 15th place finish in the jr trucks category and then a funny raido conversation in nationwied.)

    [Reply]

    Kristiane Reply:

    LOL I enjoyed reading your comment =)

    [Reply]

    unoc12 Reply:

    Why?

    It’s true though, that old drivers aren’t retiring and are being kept in indefinant ice freezing mode or whatever to stop them aging and allow them to develop cars. Trulli has now driven 3 different decades and ISN’t ON THE RISE. Schumcaher was around when Senna was racing.. and Prost still only had 3 titles, not the 4.. and a son.. who is nearly 30. He is aboutt to start HIS 3rd decade of racing in F1 soon. Barichello seems nice and he had a few chances and was a bit unlucky and mistreated but it holding a spot that he quite probably wouldn’t have kept in 2009 if testing was allowed (reference is Barrichello himself there).

    Heidfeld, I want himt o win a race, never had the car to do it, kubica/hidfeld had 1 between them and kubica got it. But he was racing back when Prost had a team. Back before Raikkonen started!

    If a driver is improving or making it worthwhile on pace them sure, he can be kept.
    Barichello is beating Maldo
    Hiedfeld is beating Petrov.. just

    But Schumacher and Trulli are just wasting spots.

    And the reason why we may never see drivers like Senna or Grojean or whomever get a chance they deserve or many others who will get past over is beacuse drivers like NKart, VLiu, MSchu, JTru etc.. are all taking up slots.

    It really says something when drivers like Senna and Paffet can only sign as a test driver as best. Neither are slow

    Martin,UK Reply:

    I can’t understand why any F1 team would want Raikonnen.

    He seems to have very little interest in a team beyond just racing the car. From his days at Ferrari it seems like he expected to turn up to a fast car, drive it then go straight home after race. Not much interaction with the team, not great at developing the car and once he found the car not to his liking he just seemed to give up.

    [Reply]

    Brent McMaster Reply:

    Keep in mind that Kimi had virtually no experience in either of the NASCAR machines and still finished better than top half in each race. Not bad for first time out on ovals.

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    Pete Reply:

    I reckon we need some more teams on the grid then, I reckon Alfa could come back, tyrell etc etc, all the past teams that we have seen before.

    [Reply]


  8.   8. Posted By: Casimir
        Date: July 25th, 2011 @ 6:07 pm 

    I’m not going to try and assert too much in Nick Heidfeld’s defence. He has been out qualified by Petrov, and this is merely the continuation of a trend established since his time with Kubica at BMW.

    However, it is worth noting that Heidfeld has out raced Petrov for the majority of the season. Yes, the points only register a 2 point differential, but Petrov is nowhere near as consistent under race conditions; frankly, he is poor.

    I’m not sure what the expectations were for Heidfeld, but they seem to have been extremely high. The impression I get was that Renault expected him to be scoring points in every race, and by this not 8th or 9th, but 5th and 4th and occasionally podiums.

    Frankly, if these were the expectations placed on him, the inevitabilities were that he couldn’t match them. In an age of great reliability, unless the Renault were legitimately as fast as the McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull, the best one can realistically hope for is 6th (assuming one of the top 6 makes a mistake). And that is assuming your car is faster than a Mercedes – which it isn’t.

    I feel a bit sorry for the guy to be honest; think back to when he was passed over for a McLaren seat by Kimi Raikkonen. His existence within the sport has been marginal at best on numerous occasions, and yet he has managed to carve out a career, in the process beating a lot of drivers who are now considered in far greater regard than he ever will be (he scored more points than Raikkonen, Massa and Kubica when racing within the same team).

    The issue is a lot bigger than Heidfeld though. Petrov does not deserve a seat in that car. You can say what you like about him improving, but would he have been afforded the opportunity to improve if he didn’t come with a Russian wallet attached to his steering wheel?

    Romain is a good driver, but I doubt he is great. I also doubt he is any better than Heidfeld. Senna is another kettle of fish altogether, a far less talented fish too. There is little in his prior racing history that distinguishes him from anyone else, apart from his name.

    If I was the team principle I would keep what I have for now and wait on Kubica. Unfortunately Kubica is spoken of as some sort of Renault messiah, and I don’t think he will offer much more than is currently being exhibited by Nick/Vitaly as the Renault is fundamentally slow.

    [Reply]

    mark Reply:

    I agree, Renault/Genii are expecting miracles from drivers when the car is much more of the equation. Sure Robert manages to sometimes take a step higher than the car allows but on average it will only ever be a few points more than Heidfeld.

    I must agree, i think Heidfeld has a slightly unfair perception about hiim. Whilst i cant eer see him being a consistant race winner with the likes of Hamilton, vettel etc, i do believe he is close to Webber (who i really like) and Rosberg etc givent he same car…

    But back to the team, have you ever noticed less experienced owners always put intense pressure on the driver and think of them as the white knight and teams saviour unlike Mclaren, Redbull, Mercedes (and maybe, sometimes Ferrari) that will readily admit when the car is not up to scratch….

    Not once have i heard the new owners (in the media at least) saying, we haven’t given them a car that is worthy of the driver yet…

    [Reply]

    Kristiane Reply:

    Very well said about less experienced owners.

    I recall a month or two ago Eric Boullier, or Eric the Bully, made some harsh words on his drivers. Not a great way to get your drivers to work for you. Has anyone ever heard Martin Witmarsh or Stefano Dominicali complain about their drivers?

    As for Kubica said by Casimir, I recall Alonso recommended Kubica to Renault and rated him highly. I’d put my money on Kubica as the Alonso clone and bring the team forward.

    [Reply]

    Michael Reply:

    “However, it is worth noting that Heidfeld has out raced Petrov for the majority of the season.”

    Yes, and it’s also worth noting that Heidfeld hauled in more points than Kubica for the three full seasons they raced side-by-side (’07-’09). Nick earned 140 and Robert 131. He just doesn’t look as brilliant doing it, and he’s never won. But he does tend to score.

    [Reply]

    bleh Reply:

    Kubica only won once. It was the one race were BMW wiped the floor with everyone else and it was more or less a toss-up between Kubica and Heidfeld. In the end the team effectively decided by pit-stop to give the win to the new rising star instead of boring old Heidfeld.

    I agree with the above that he’s certainly not championship material unless in a dominating car. But year after year, if you read the articles (hey there, James!) and forum posts you could believe that Heidfeld gets thrashed by his much better teammate. But then you look at the tally and, lo and behold, Heidfeld outscored him.

    [Reply]

    Sam Reply:

    Great Comments!

    this guy has outscored Raikonnen, Webber and Kubica in similar machinery throughout his career. It’s not glitzy showy driving, nor does he make contraversial statements that see him gain too much press attention. Heidfeld is a fantastic racer and one of the few who regularly pulled off some amazing overtaking in the Pre-DRS era – If you don’t believe me, search for them on Youtube (Not sure if external websites are allowed to be mentioned… sorry if they are not james!).

    My blood boils whenever he is belittled by the media and particularly Martin Brundle on air. Any comment made about Heidfeld seems to be negative and frankly I’m not sure Martin did anything more spectacular in his career than Heidfeld!! Perhaps he’s a bit bitter that quick Nick has now pipped him down one place on the Most Races without a Win” AND “Most Points without a Win” record … who knows!

    Heidfeld’s car hasn’t been up to scratch in 2011. Im not so sure that Kubica would have been in too much of a better position – Renault are simply not a top 4 team like they were in Melbourne & Malaysia: That’s the painful reality that Heidfeld fans (excited by the prospect he might break the race win duck in ’11) and pressured team bosses searching for something other than the car to blame need to accept.

    Most of this has been posted above but as someone who has followed and supported Nick since he entered F1 with Prost with so much promise, I felt i needed to say something.

    [Reply]

    terryshep Reply:

    Totally agree with this post from Sam, time somebody said that!

    Max Smoot Reply:

    Must also agree — bashing Heidfeld for not producing wins from that less-than-promising Renault is unrealistic. It looks like he is being squeezed out from yet another mid-field team (again!) that failed to deliver on its earlier promise. The team owners deserve criticism for dropping the pace of development when they had a jump on the field at the beginning of the season. Did they not see what RB, McL, Ferrari and Merc were up to? And, as for waiting for Kubica to magically show up and rescue them, well…


  9.   9. Posted By: KK
        Date: July 25th, 2011 @ 6:33 pm 

    It will be a miracle? So you mean to say, the odds are against Kubica’s complete recovery to happen and be competitive again?

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    His nerve injuries in particular were very severe and according to friends in London hospitals who are specialists in this area it will be a miracle if he comes back as good as before. But miracles can happen

    [Reply]

    Lilla My Reply:

    He’ll be fine. I’m pretty sure about it. I don’t know why, because his injuries were really severe, but I somehow feel he’ll come back.

    I hope it’s not wishful thinking only;)!

    [Reply]

    Mario Reply:

    It is certain he’ll come back and it is certain he’ll do better than before.

    Kristiane Reply:

    I’d think Kubica’s mental strength is stronger than anyone can imagine.

    [Reply]

    Martin,UK Reply:

    Thats possibly true but unfortunately its not all about mental strength as Sir Stirling Moss can testify. If the accident has caused him to lose the natural instincts and reactions that he had developed then he’ll never be as good.

    Sadly I think he may come back into F1 to find that he is slower than Petrov.


  10.   10. Posted By: CanadaGP
        Date: July 25th, 2011 @ 6:57 pm 

    I understand the relevance of a French driver but Renault needs a top driver but I don’t think Grosjean is the answer. Obviously Kubica is the answer if he can come back and everyone is hoping for that but miracles are called that for a reason. I think there are better (than Grosjean or Petrov or Heidfeld) young drivers on the grid such as Kobayashi, di Resta, Hulkenberg, Perez that Renault should look at for next year.

    I’m looking forward to Hungary. Somehow the track in Hungary seems to feature winners driving less than the fastest car more than any other track on the calendar. Since passing was always difficult in the past,even a slower car could defend against a faster car once they get in front through pit stops, incidents, attrition, etc.

    So the measures to improve overtaking could make Hungary different this year. Yet, I think a better driver in the second fastest car has an excellent chance to win. So I’m putting my money on either Alonso or Hamilton beating the RBRs even if RBR has the front row. Alonso if its a usual hot summer day, Lewis if it is unusually colder.

    [Reply]


  11.   11. Posted By: Feluisgoncalves
        Date: July 25th, 2011 @ 7:23 pm 

    Hi James,

    Genii was last week in Brazil looking for “partners”, according to local newspapers. Not sure if this got international. I don’t think they would have any problem in finding some strong sponsors here in case Senna is the driver. Any imaginable brand in Brazil would like to sponsor a Senna driving a decent car. Not sure if Grosjean enjoys the same economic support in France. Also, there are some news reports here that say he could drive at least one race this year: Interlagos. if Senna shows some strong or rather decent performance, do you think he could get the position from Grosjean??
    Great website btw.

    [Reply]


  12.   12. Posted By: Jo Torrent
        Date: July 25th, 2011 @ 7:30 pm 

    I watched Sunday GP2 race, the 1st I’ve ever seen. It was a fantastic race and it proved one thing : average drivers give great racing. There were so many mistakes per lap, Karun Chandhok would’ve looked like a swiss watch.

    No driver is shining there and I don’t think Romain Grosjean is a special driver. IMO he isn’t faster than Heidfeld and given the no-testing rule, he will suffer to be competitive.

    Petrov isn’t going to lose his seat. LR has financial difficulties and they need the Russian money.
    If Kubica isn’t fit to race next year (hopefully no), is Renault going to be lead by the Petrov/Grosjean pair ? Very risky choice IMO. For all those reasons, I don’t see the logic behind hiring the Frenchman unless he brings money.

    [Reply]

    Onyx Reply:

    Grosjean no faster than Heidfeld?Are you nuts?I know you only watch F1 but check out his record..winner in GP2..winner GP2 Asia…winner in Auto GP..winner in FIA GT1…the list goes on and on..this guy is special.

    [Reply]

    unoc12 Reply:

    Jo is saying that while he is winning GP2, it is more because the current GP2 field is not so good (it wasn’t good last year either.. maldo managed to win).

    I agree. Jo, I’m suprised you have seen more of it. Youtube the monaco quali clip. Helerious stuff. ‘I want a perfect lap so I’ll wait to have a massive buffer before I start’ pretty much and then drivers finishing a hot lap by waiting for cars starting to get out of the way. Hilarious great stuff!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rm2BMM71S14

    There you go.

    Valsecchi (spelling) has even managed to look ok. In my opinion the top of them are Pic, Van der Garde, Bianchi (horribly unreliable and crash prone but fast).

    Bird started well but has failed to live up to even matching his early results. Van der Garde isn’t exactly the top but is consistant (when not being taken out) at getting high spots.

    I think if Van der Garde makes it to F1 he could be like a Prost. Not as fast as Senna, but exceptionally great at getting high results consistantly.

    And then a few drivers have scored a win and nothing really else. Val the TL test driver and Gu the Sauber test driver are two of them.

    FR3.5 is looking a bit better though. Wickens and Ricciardo both have quite a lot of skill, Vergne looks good, and they aren’t alone at being decent.

    If I were renault, I’d put Senna in the hot seat, see how he goes, if it’s better than Hiedfeld then replace after the mid break.
    After that put Grojean in the practice sessions after the GP2 is over. If he rates favourably to Senna then Grojean is higher up the ladder for a seat next year, if he doesn’t then Senna is. If Senna too slow then get rid of him, if Grojean isn’t as fast Senna gte rid of him. If neither are as fast as hiedfeld, keep hiedfeld.

    [Reply]

    JEVthebest Reply:

    Vergne for his first season is in the lead of the championship, Wickens has been in junior formula for 5 years and has never won a title in Europe and that’s why he was send out of the red bull junior team. France has three extremely talented driver, Bianchi, Vergne and Grosjean. I prefer Vergne and Bianchi, and I’m sure that Bianchi will finish second in the gp2 if he continues like he is doing since silverstone, and Vergne may be champion of the world series in his first attempt, and the next circuit coming are circuit that he knows very well: he was crowned at silerstone, he knows all the french tracks and he’s also knows barcelona very well. If he wins this title, he will be in Toro Rosso in 2012.


  13.   13. Posted By: David Ryan
        Date: July 25th, 2011 @ 7:34 pm 

    Replacing Heidfeld seems somewhat premature – the car hasn’t performed as expected and even if he has been outqualified by Petrov, he’s brought more points home and has been far more consistent. He blotted his copybook in Canada and Germany without question (although in my view he was unlucky with di Resta and totally blameless in the Buemi crash), but ditching him sounds like baby and bathwater territory really.

    [Reply]

    PNWBrit Reply:

    Only 2 points more…..

    So that’d be HIS car hasn’t performed as expected?

    [Reply]


  14.   14. Posted By: Joe
        Date: July 25th, 2011 @ 8:00 pm 

    It all depends what happens with Kubica really…

    [Reply]


  15.   15. Posted By: RichardB
        Date: July 25th, 2011 @ 8:03 pm 

    Grosjean deserves a chance but he’s not even close to being a team leader which is what they need.

    [Reply]


  16.   16. Posted By: Dave Aston
        Date: July 25th, 2011 @ 8:20 pm 

    If Renault want to take every opportunity to be competitive, I can’t believe they’re not trying to get Kobayashi. Halfway through the season and he’s 5 points behind Petrov, 7 behind Heidfeld. I think he’d do a great job for them.

    [Reply]

    kristian Reply:

    But if you were Kobayashi, would you go to Renault in 2012? Instead, spend another year at Sauber then you have seats opening up at Ferrari and RBR, possibly McLaren and Mercedes. He has the brains to wait it out for one more year, gain team building experience rather than enter LR at a time of implosion (and probably a sale/liquidation), then end up at one of the top teams. Another low probability option, and this is going with LR being sold, is you’d end up with Honda buying LR (with intention of entering the new spec in 2014) and trying to get the best Japanese driver F1 has seen in decades… but still, I can’t help but think one of the big teams wants him, and much sooner than that would pan out. Anyway, I don’t see him buying the folly of nationalism. He’s too good, he has that killer instinct to bypass poor decisions like that.

    [Reply]

    Dave Aston Reply:

    You’re right, it’s a better bet to wait. I’d love to see him at Red Bull. All I’m saying is I don’t understand why there’s not a rush to sign him; as far as I can see, he has the speed and brains to go all the way. Personally, after Vettel / Hamilton / Alonso, I think he’s doing the best job of anyone on the grid.

    [Reply]

    bleh Reply:

    If he can get into the Renault and start outperforming his teammate the way he did at Sauber then that would be a very useful track record.
    It would show that he’s fast and versatile no matter the car and competition (which of course wasn’t top notch, but that’s just the way it is in mid-field).
    That in turn would improve his chances for a better seat in 2013.

    [Reply]


  17.   17. Posted By: goferet
        Date: July 25th, 2011 @ 8:34 pm 

    After the poor showing of Chandhok, Schumi, Heidfeld and Karthikeyan, I no longer believe in second chances.

    Some drivers either take up with F1 & others (for some reason) don’t despite results in lower formulae.

    Kobayashi didn’t exactly perform wonders in GP2 but F1 has been kind to him whereas Grosjean didn’t really get to grips with the sport.

    So I say, lets get another driver & most definitely NOT Bruno Senna.

    [Reply]

    Andy C Reply:

    Grosjean had a number of races in one of the poorest Renaults built.

    It seems that you’re able to discount Bruno Senna after one period in the worst car on the grid last year.

    I thought he was absolutely mad to go to HRT actually, and it was proved to be the case.

    Presumably you were also calling for Kobayashis head at the start of his first season at Sauber, when he had a slow start.

    I hope Bruno is quick in Hungary, as I believe he’s genuinely talented.

    [Reply]

    Tim Reply:

    “After the poor showing of Chandhok, Schumi, Heidfeld and Karthikeyan, I no longer believe in second chances.”

    Were it not for second chances a number of perfectly good F1 drivers wouldn’t have made it – Niki Lauda being the most obvious one.

    [Reply]

    PNWBrit Reply:

    Technically Lauda had already “made it” before he got what I’m assuming you’re referring to as a second chance and his 3rd WDC.

    [Reply]

    Tim Reply:

    No, I was talking about Lauda’s first year in F1 with March in 1972 and the disasterous 721X.

    Niki paid for that drive with a massive bank loan, scored no points, was completely overshadowed by team mate Ronnie Peterson and impressed no one. With huge debts he briefly contemplated suicide, but managed to secure a second chance – also funded by a massive bank loan – by paying for a BRM drive in 1973. There he did enough to get himself into Ferrari for 1974, which paid off his loans and set him on the path to a great career.

    Without that second chance, we’d be talking about Lauda the useless pay driver not Lauda the three-time champion and all-time great.


  18.   18. Posted By: Paul
        Date: July 25th, 2011 @ 8:41 pm 

    I don’t think Heidfeld has done a poor job this year, but I can understand why they want to get rid of him. Grosjean and Senna definitely deserve another chance, but not in a Renault.

    It’s interesting James that you say it is unlikely Kubica will return. I had felt that was the case but Robert and the team are being so positive about chances for recovery. Surely it will make it harder if he doesn’t return.

    For some reason, I find it difficult to see past a Kobayashi-Petrov lineup at Renault for 2012 with a Perez-Bianchi pairing at Sauber.

    [Reply]


  19.   19. Posted By: Phil R
        Date: July 25th, 2011 @ 9:24 pm 

    Hi James

    What are yours/the general paddocks view of Heidfeld? I’ve generally been a fan, finding him quick (if not exceptional, but to a lesser extent one could say the same about Alonso), but that his racecraft and strategy very good. His ability to overtake and defend is fantastic, and I would argue some of the best and fairest on the grid.

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    Yes. I’ve always thought he was a pretty decent driver. This year he’s been disappointing though.

    [Reply]

    Steed Reply:

    I find the criticism of Heidfeld is out of step with the facts.

    Over his career, ignoring DNFs, Heidfeld has on average gained 2.4 places from grid to result. Button has raced in the same number of seasons and his average gain is 2.3. I would say neither are great at qualifying, but are very close in terms of racing.

    Give Button a winning car and he can win. We’ve never seen Heidfeld in a winning car – on this analysis, you would expect him to also be a champion, given a decent car.

    This season, Heidfeld has averaged a 9.5 place gain from grid to result. Petrov has lost 1.0 places this season, and has scored 2 less points. That may make him a better qualifier, but not a better racer.

    Personally, I would take Heidfeld over 80% of the current crop of drivers.

    [Reply]

    Andy C Reply:

    Statistics are all very good and well. But he hasnt performed this year to the level that was expected of him.

    Jenson managed to win in a pretty bad honda in 2006.

    But Robert won for BMW Sauber at the same period, and 08 had a good car. Stupid decision to focus on the 09 car when they finally got a car close to winning(which we all know how that went).

    Adrian J Reply:

    That stastic doesn’t take into account that Jenson has been in decent cars and qualified higher up than Nick in many years.

    The nearer to the front you are, the harder it is to gain places…

    PNWBrit Reply:

    Alonso not exceptional?

    wow…..

    [Reply]

    Phil R Reply:

    In terms of one lap pace, I’d say Hamilton, Vettel and Raikonnen in a non understeering car are quicker, McLaren certainly thought so comparing the two in the 2006/2007 off season. Still in the top 3 overall, and race pace/ability to lead a team, especially one so politicly tricky as Ferrari is second to none.

    [Reply]

    PNWBrit Reply:

    So he is exceptional then??? Given his success and almost unanimous reputation as EASILY among top three drivers in world (and very often well cited WITHIN the sport as the currently very best)at a time when strength of field is possibly at an all time high. And given that apparently he somehow lacks one lap pace?

    Is his (you) claimed lack of one lap pace more of a hindrance than Vettel’s (widely perceived)lack of race craft?

    Trent Reply:

    There seems to be an expectation that he should smash Petrov. Probably based on Petrov being so much slower than Kubica last year. But Petrov has improved a lot, and if Kubica was in the other car the gap wouldn’t be nearly what it was last year.

    [Reply]


  20.   20. Posted By: Bill Day
        Date: July 25th, 2011 @ 9:32 pm 

    Too bad about Heidfeld. I rooted for him to get another chance, I always felt he had more to show. I have no idea whether it’s the car or it’s him, but I’m sorry he hasn’t had a better season.

    [Reply]


  21.   21. Posted By: B Martin
        Date: July 25th, 2011 @ 9:51 pm 

    I don’t see how any other driver will bring in as many points as Nick for the rest of the season. A replacement driver can only be justified if Renault need immediate funding. I still can’t get my head around the Nick bashing. The qualifying differential is nonsense – last time I checked, you don’t get points for qualifying and overtaking isn’t so impossible making qualifying less important than in past years.

    [Reply]


  22.   22. Posted By: Peter
        Date: July 25th, 2011 @ 10:26 pm 

    I remember vividly Grosjean’s run in 2009 and I have to say he was abysmal. Half decent drivers give at least a hint of being good enough to race in f1 but Grosjean didn’t give one hint. I felt sorry that Alonso had to be paired with such dire team mates in 2008 and 2009 but then again that was his choice.

    [Reply]


  23.   23. Posted By: Edward Valentine
        Date: July 25th, 2011 @ 10:38 pm 

    I don’t think Bruno Senna has had a proper go in F1 yet. I think he’d do well if he were to be given a race seat at Renault, but the quality of talent on the current F1 grid is, in my view, higher than it has ever been. With the pay drivers taking the race seats of more accomplished drivers it seems that the cream will take longer to rise to the top.

    [Reply]


  24.   24. Posted By: Darren
        Date: July 25th, 2011 @ 10:44 pm 

    They need Heidfeld’s experience to take the car forward, but they also need a star driver. Perhaps by giving Grosjean a few drives this season they are grooming him as plan B in case Kubica’s comeback doesn’t go well.

    [Reply]


  25.   25. Posted By: jez
        Date: July 25th, 2011 @ 10:44 pm 

    If Kubica is not available for 2011, and Heidfeld is dropped, I doubt Senna or Grosjean will get the drive unless they can bring significant sponsorship.

    Eric Boullier may prefer a Frenchman, though Jackie Stewart would no doubt prefer a Scot.

    Genii’s boss Gerald Lopez owns Gravity Sport Management company that looks after a host of young drivers, including Chinese Ho-Pin Tung…

    All that said, an accomplished experienced driver will be essential to develope the car. That being said who from the current line up are potentially available? Massa is their best shot.

    [Reply]


  26.   26. Posted By: Werewolf
        Date: July 25th, 2011 @ 10:56 pm 

    A difficult one on which to have a strong view because the car has been inconsistent and its ultimate pace remains questionable. It is fair to say that Heidfeld has not out performed it but will replacing him mid-season provide any real benefit?

    If Renault is serious about moving forward, it needs the quick and strong team leader next year it thought it had for 2011 with Kubica. That man certainly isn’t Heidfeld and nor is it Petrov but I would be surprised if it’s Grosjean, particularly in the short term. I would have thought they really need a more experienced hand but I have to admit most of those are either signed up, in the twilight of their careers or set fair for permanent mid-fielderdom.

    [Reply]


  27.   27. Posted By: morten_olsen
        Date: July 25th, 2011 @ 11:08 pm 

    James, I will cease to like you :-) if you don’t stop calling Kubica’s return to competetive driving a miracle. Me and all Polish fans hope that Kubica will beat “your” Hamilton next year (at least a couple of times, maybe once or twice). Maybe a wishful thinking on our part, maybe not.

    [Reply]

    kristian Reply:

    I think most if not all fans want to see Kubica back next year as if nothing ever happened. Let’s make it a surprise if he does, not a disappointment if he doesn’t.

    [Reply]

    vargas_fala Reply:

    Agreed, let’s wait and think positive.

    [Reply]


  28.   28. Posted By: Steven
        Date: July 25th, 2011 @ 11:13 pm 

    Great news, Grosjean is the best racer I have seen in GP2 since Hamilton – as long as he truly has addressed his attitude off track as it seems he has looking at Boullier’s words then I have no doubt he will be a superstar with a proper intergration, he has all the driving ability needed.

    [Reply]

    Martin,UK Reply:

    The problem is this though.

    Hamilton came into F1 alongside Alonso and matched him blow for blow in the same car, Grosjean didn’t do anything of the sort, didn’t even score a single point.

    I got the feeling he was capable of being quick over one lap but his consistency and racecraft were terrible, simply too accident prone.

    [Reply]


  29.   29. Posted By: Paul Roberts
        Date: July 26th, 2011 @ 12:00 am 

    With the current lack of testing, is it now the time the FIA allowed an extra session for teams to ONLY use reserve drivers.
    In my opinion I would love to see Senna get a chance to have at least one race in this years Lotus Renault, I went to see him when he tested for Honda ( Braun ) and he was only a few tenths of Buttons time. Also Senna has been a brilliant ambassador for the Lotus Renault brand.

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    I believe Grosjean would be given a test before his first race under rules evolved in last couple of years.

    [Reply]

    Andy C Reply:

    I think bruno is good too. He has never had the car to prove it in F1, so will be interesting to see how he does.

    and after going through Eau Rouge one handed in reverse recording it on his iphone, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. ;-)

    [Reply]


  30.   30. Posted By: PNWBrit
        Date: July 26th, 2011 @ 12:03 am 

    Since not very quick Nick has been given ample time to demonstrate that he is really no quicker than the somewhat previously average (although improving) Petrov. There’s nothing really to lose by giving Senna or Grosjean a Friday drive. It would not surprise me if either or both were quicker than “give me just another chance”. They’d probably cost a lot less too?

    [Reply]


  31.   31. Posted By: Tom in Adelaide
        Date: July 26th, 2011 @ 12:49 am 

    Good to see T.C contributing to the site. His work with OneHD for Australian T.V coverage is really good.

    [Reply]


  32.   32. Posted By: eric weinraub
        Date: July 26th, 2011 @ 3:50 am 

    The Renault just isn’t that great a car. Nick is fast, just not a miracle worker. I seen no point in putting a driver in the car who will finish further back just so you can say you gave someone else a chance.

    [Reply]


  33.   33. Posted By: Sab
        Date: July 26th, 2011 @ 6:04 am 

    Firstly,I highly doubt that anyone could bring far better results for this year’s Renault,other than Heidfeld.It seemed really unfair for me that he hadn’t secured a seat for this year anyway and only got one due to unfortunate circumstances regarding Kubica.But,give him a break…he got drafted in halfway during the very shaoing if the car,which is one it’s one a handfull and a crazy experiment if you ask me.I only expect him though to further increase his points tally against Petrov.
    Furthermore…it seems crazy to me…how can F1 banish serious testing and at the same time teams trying desperately to bring in extremely young talents? It has to be all about funding otherwise it just doesn’t make any sence to me.The Hamilton thing worked because it was in the making years ahead of its time.But nowdays,trying to squeeze 20 year olds down the F1 pipeline seems so unfair both for the drivers and the sport.IMO,even current young world champions clearly need more maturing.Hamilton needs to be patient and calculative,Vettel needs to learn there is track space beyond the racing line and can be used for… overtaking perhups.Still both of them are amazing talents,and I don’t think gp2 or any other dicipline can offer such talent in a yearly base.
    Bottom line…Grosjean…I don’t really see anything in him…Senna,neither.Maybe in the next couple of years,maybe after the change in engines makes F1 a baby friendly sport.But for now,totally unfair for young drivers,fans and teams alike.

    [Reply]


  34.   34. Posted By: El Shish
        Date: July 26th, 2011 @ 6:33 am 

    Strange. I understand the argument that Grosjean wasn’t given a proper chance but he was pretty horrendous on some occasions and I’m not sure he’s going to generate the same buzz. If they really want French (rather than French-Swiss), why not give Jules Bianchi a drive? I’m sure Ferrari would be glad for him to get experience and with the high expectations and family history of success, it would give Genii the opportunity to generate the buzz they seem to crave.

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    Bianchi is tied to Ferrari

    [Reply]


  35.   35. Posted By: Ryan Eckford
        Date: July 26th, 2011 @ 8:34 am 

    I think Grosjean is a good driver and has probably been the most consistent driver this year in the GP2 Series, and could have a good career if in the right team conditions.

    On Kubica, I think that miracles do happen and will happen in the sporting arena, as long as hope is there, which it still is. I would like to ask you if you, Tom Clarkson or any other journalists in F1 has actually interviewed or has talked to Robert Kubica in person recently?

    [Reply]


  36.   36. Posted By: Darren
        Date: July 26th, 2011 @ 9:35 am 

    Why aren’t they going after Timo Glock? He’d be the perfect stand in number one.

    [Reply]


  37.   37. Posted By: jmv
        Date: July 26th, 2011 @ 10:14 am 

    I would like Romain to get the F1 ride.. just for us to see his girlfriend more!!

    We need more F1 drivers with stunning looking girlfriends!

    [Reply]

    Max Smoot Reply:

    Finally…someone with the priorities sorted.

    [Reply]


  38.   38. Posted By: Martin,UK
        Date: July 26th, 2011 @ 1:06 pm 

    Its pretty interesting what is going on at Lotus Renault at the moment.

    You have Boullier wanting to bring in Grosjean to help the government promote a new French F1 race. Possibly to also try and stay as Renaultsports preferred partner with Williams threatening to take that away.

    You have Genii who owns the team backing Jerome D’Ambrosio.

    Then you have their title sponsor Lotus Cars who would probably prefer to see Bruno getting the drive to help rekindle the Senna in a JPS car image having lost the Team Lotus rights battle.

    All this on a backdrop of Russians possibly grabbing control of the team when they can’t pay their loans back later in the year.

    They seem to be in a real mess at the moment.

    [Reply]


  39.   39. Posted By: chris green
        Date: July 26th, 2011 @ 1:31 pm 

    Nicks had enough chances. Probably make a good sportscar driver.

    [Reply]


  40.   40. Posted By: Andrew
        Date: July 26th, 2011 @ 1:39 pm 

    Heidfeld needs a strong weekend for sure. Needs to really leave Petrov for dead this weekend which may or may not happen. I agree that the gap between Petrov and Heidfeld is too close for concern likewise his qualifying pace is letting him down but he does tend to pick up points via stealth slipping into points than gaining them ala Hamilton. I think testing Senna and Grosjean shows that Renault have given up on this year which I think shows a massive weakness in the leadership of the team. The car simply doesn’t appear to be developed meaning it is going backwards to other teams. Its all because they allowed Robert rallying

    [Reply]


  41.   41. Posted By: ike
        Date: July 26th, 2011 @ 5:58 pm 

    Sign in Raikonen

    [Reply]


  42.   42. Posted By: Johnny Talia
        Date: July 26th, 2011 @ 7:58 pm 

    Boullier has stated that Heidfeld was unable to provide the “leadership role” that Renault hoped for in Kubica;s absence.

    In the first place, how can you expect a driver brought in as a temporary replacement, knowing he would lose his seat as soon as Kubica was ready to return, to provide a “leadership role”?

    In the second place, Heidfeld has more seat time and more experience than Roman Grosjean, who is being touted as his potential replacement. What in the heck qualifies Grosjean to provide more of a “leadership role” than Heidfeld? The fact that he is French? Or the fact that he is managed by team principal Eric Boullier?

    [Reply]


  43.   43. Posted By: Athlander
        Date: July 26th, 2011 @ 8:49 pm 

    How is Boullier regarded as a team manager and how much of a match is he with the culture at Renault?

    I wonder because not since Briatore left have I heard such negative comments from a manager regarding the team’s own drivers. How was his comment that Petrov’s Russian mentality dosen’t go well with “the arrogance of the English”” received by the English element of Renault’s workforce?

    Returning to the “culture” of Renault, and Boullier’s disappointment at the lack of leadership, could this be a hangover from the Alonso/Briatore era? How much “leadership” is a driver expected to provide? Do the folk at Renault need someone to bang fists on tables, be demanding and quick to criticise? How much leadership is Boullier delegating to Heidfeld?

    Imagine a driver. He’s fast and he’s there to win races and championships. He feels he’s entitled to a brilliant car – not that he expects to be given one on a plate: he definitely puts in the effort but expects and demands the team to deliver. He’s willing to accept that this could take two or more seasons but time isn’t on his side so there’s more pressure on the team or he’ll start looking along the pitlane and considering his options. Loyalty is one thing but he’ll be aware that, even though McLaren gave Senna a car that enabled him to win 3 championships and 35 race victories, he still switched to Williams.

    This seems to be the driver Boullier wants.

    Of the current drivers, I could be describing Alonso, Hamilton or perhaps Vettel. I rate Heidfeld as a driver but I never thought he was cut from the same cloth as I listed. Boullier seems to have confirmed that, but surely he should have known before hiring him?

    The difficult thing is that Heidfeld probably knows he’s in an almost impossible situation. Supposing he gives Renault the drive and direction Boullier wants and picks up a race victory – Renault will still drop him for Kubica or Grosjean. He’d make an ideal number two driver for Ferrari but they already have one. McLaren are fully booked and when Webber retires he’ll be replaced by someone from the Red Bull stock. Mercedes have di Resta hovering around in the background. If he really wants to drive, then his best hope is a gig like Trulli’s but does he want that and will one be available?

    Really, though, I’m a fan of Heidfeld and I’m disappointed too – I wish he’d draw more attention to himself. He’s been given yet another chance to show other teams what he has to offer and he should be tarting himself as publicly as possible. He should at least be insinuating his name into the perennial Massa-replacement story.

    Heidfeld should be pushing Renault as if his career depended on it… because his career depends on it.

    [Reply]

    quest Reply:

    Definitely not a hangover from the Alonso/Briatore era. I remember last year Boullier even critisized Alonso last and talked up Kubica along similar lines talking about commitment and leadership. This despite the fact that he wasnt even in the team during Alonso’s Renault days. Says a lot about Boullier. Most of his interviews seem to be a lot of empty words without much meaning.

    [Reply]

    Athlander Reply:

    I didn’t know Boullier criticised Alonso – he seems pretty good at criticising any driver who isn’t Kubica!

    I could be wrong but Boullier’s interviews do seem to have meaning. Increasingly, they seem to mean “Things are going badly but, even though I’m in charge, I’m entirely blameless.” I predict a long career for him in Formula 1, followed by the presidency of the FIA…

    [Reply]


  44.   44. Posted By: mad79
        Date: July 27th, 2011 @ 5:06 pm 

    I think we all know what Grojean did last time in F1,so if you want a driver that can race fast thats Bruno Senna.Dont forget that late Ayrton Senna told about Bruno:”if you think im fast,wait ’till you see my nephfew Bruno”!I think if Senna did they tyhat you(as a team owner),should at least give him a chance to race for 5-6 races!

    [Reply]

    Athlander Reply:

    The thing is, Ayrton Senna said this in 1993 while Bruno was karting. After Ayrton’s death in ’94, Bruno’s family stopped him from racing and it was 10 years before Bruno took up racing again. For someone who lost 10 years of development, he showed remarkable talent – which is still there – but that 10 year gap plus the lack of in-season testing will always hinder Bruno.

    There’s also the obvious notion that karting talent doesn’t necessarily translate to Formula 1 talent but, in this case, I’m more than happy to defer to Ayrton’s judgement.

    [Reply]

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