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Confusion over Kubica plans as manager denies Renault statement
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Posted By: James Allen  |  24 Nov 2011   |  6:09 pm GMT  |  79 comments

The short term future of Robert Kubica has been cast in doubt after the Lotus Renault team issued a statement in which the Pole said that he wouldn’t be ready to return in 2012. But his manager denied that his client had used the words quoted in the statement. And paddock speculation here in Brazil is that Ferrari is keeping the door open for him to return with them.

“Even if I’ve been working very, very hard over the course of the last few weeks, I came to the conclusion that I am not yet certain to be ready for the 2012 season,” Kubica was quoted as saying by LRGP.

However speaking to Italian colleagues last night, Kubica’s manager Daniel Morelli said, “He didn’t say that. He said he will not be ready for the tests at the start of the year. That’s not the same as saying he will miss the season.

“I don’t know why they have changed his words.”

This is all very interesting, as there is a further contradiction with LRGP boss Eric Boullier saying that Kubica will remain part of the Renault family, but Morelli goes on to say that Kubica is a free agent at the end of this year, “The contract doesn’t go to 2012. From 1 January we will be free to go where we want.

“If Robert Kubica comes back it will be because he’s as competitive as he was before and because he’s attractive to top teams.”

Italian colleagues who have spoken extensively with Kubica’s doctor Riccardo Ceccarelli, insist that Kubica will be ready to drive a car again a few months into next year. There have been suggestions that he may even do some GP2 as a form of training. His objective is to come back, but only when he’s sure he’s ready.

What’s important to remember is that the original Kubica contract was signed with the corporate side of the Renault car company, when the manufacturer was still running its own team. It withdrew from F1 at the end of 2009 and over that winter into 2010 Gerard Lopez’ Genii Group bought the team.

Kubica’s contract was transferred, but listening to Morelli over the course of 2011, including his appearances in Monaco and Monza it’s clear that there are some differences of opinion between him and Genii.

As for the Ferrari option, Kubica was always their first choice to replace Felipe Massa and that has remained the case despite his rally accident in February. In the meantime possible replacements like Nico Rosberg, Jenson Button and Mark Webber have all re-signed with their current teams.


In the meantime, one notable presence in the LRGP area this weekend is former McLaren sporting director Dave Ryan. The 57 year old split with McLaren over the episode where Lewis Hamilton was caught lying to stewards over an incident in the 2009 Australian Grand Prix.

But he is very close to Jackie Stewart, who is retained as a consultant by Genii and it is likely that in advising the team on how to strengthen, he has recommended Ryan, a real disciplinarian and a very experienced racer.

Eric Boullier confirmed this afternoon that Ryan is in Interlagos to “have a look” at how the team operates.

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79 Comments
  1. Falcor says:

    He’s off to Ferrari, no doubt about it.

    1. Duane says:

      I hope you`re right!

    2. Sebee says:

      Not if he’s not fit enough or quick enough.

      We are looking for 0.01s here, and Kubica’s yardstick would be Alonso.

      You can see already the damage a crash can do with Massa. Not to be cold, but does Ferrari want more such concerns? I also think Ferrari may want a driver from a big market and may start “grooming” someone in 2012 for 2013.

      1. Nick Tabram says:

        I think they’ve already started grooming Sergio Pérez. Much like Massa, he’s running his apprenticeship at Sauber.

      2. Sebee says:

        Doesn’t that make perfect sense? A South American to go along with their #1. Isn’t that their MO for last decade plus? There is a lot of money in Mexico with Mr. Slim

        I have to admit Nick, I have absolutely not paid any attention to what is going on with prospects/driver development at Ferrari. I think part of it is that they have Alonso sown up for years, so there is not as much concern about the second car in my mind.

    3. Shankar says:

      i hope so. seeing how LRGP operates i dont want a top driver like kubica driving for them. they dont make drivers feel part of the team really expect for in their corporate press releases. drivers are put under unfair pressure there and its like everytime there are there to prove something to their team bosses.

    4. pankaj says:

      Based on?

    5. Don Farrell says:

      Ferrari doesn’t need another ‘crash-damaged’ driver… race drivers who return after a life-threatening accident never regain that ‘on-the-edge’ hunger to win. Look at Ralf Schumacher a few years back after his nasty shunt, look at Massa, look at Perez… all drivers who brushed with death… but all of them lost that extra bit of spark.

      1. Keith says:

        Look at Niki Lauda, Nigel Mansell, Mika Hakkinen.

        All successfully became world champions after life threatening accidents.

        Ralf Schumacher is hardly the example of a shining star who lost his edge.

        Generalisations, ah we love em.

      2. Don Farrell says:

        Fair point :)

      3. tomtyl says:

        And how about Kubica’s horrific crash in Canada? He didn’t look like the guy who lost even the tiniest piece of his abilities.

      4. jonnyd says:

        and lets not forget m schumacher….who came back after breaking his legs in 99…..

      5. K says:

        +1 on Keith. -1 on Don Farrell for “race drivers who return after a life-threatening accident never regain that ‘on-the-edge’ hunger to win.”.

      6. Dave says:

        Michael Schumacher broke his leg in 1999 and went on to become THE Michael Schumacher.

      7. BurgerF1 says:

        Yeah, I mean Hakkinen only won 2 world championships after his near-fatal accident in Adelaide. Kubica’s already demonstrated he can come back after his accident in Canada.

        No, I think Massa’s poor form is down to him knowing that even on a good day he will struggle to match Alonso. On top of that, if ever there should be such a day, the team will ask him to move over.

        Alonso’s performance and take-over of the team has gotten into his head.

        On that note – it would be an interesting over-the-winter article to delve into the mental fitness and sports psychology that goes into helping the drivers perform at their peak.

      8. C-M says:

        Only if Alonso is faster, as he was in Germany that time.

        The truth is Massa has never been great – I don’t think the crash has anything to do with any of his performances.

        Remember his 6 spins in Silverstone that one year? He was at it again later in the season. In fact without traction control Massa has been poor.

        Massa needs a perfect car to get anywhere, he seems unable to drive around problems.

  2. Adelaide says:

    I always rated Kubica very highly. First, I hope he returns to F1, no matter where! Second, if it be in a Ferrari, that would be a spectacular pairing, with Fernando and Robert being close friends, and first class F1 drivers.

    I think the Ferrari option is very possible. Hopefully Kubica will pull it off…

    1. Sebee says:

      Let’s say Kubica is not fit.

      What driver serious options do Ferrari have for the second car for 2013 beside keeping Massa on one more season?

      1. James Allen says:

        That’s the problem

      2. Andy says:

        I know it’s unlikely, but what about a return of the Ice Man Kimi?

      3. KGBVD says:

        Bianchi seems to be in the same talent vein as Massa, Barrichello and Irvine; he would make a nice, non-threatening seat filler.

      4. Andy says:

        Damn I’m good!

      5. Nuno says:

        If Kubica is not fit I will put Heikki or Hulkenberg. Heikki has been mighty fast this year…single lap…race pace.
        There is always Perez as well…I think there are still options in the table.

      6. Sebee says:

        Interesting suggestion.

        I haven’t paid much attention to Kovalainen after McLaren. But perhaps he would be a fit. He seems on pace, not trouble, was good #2 at McLaren, is current driver with plenty of experience under his belt.

        One thing Ferrari do have is time. They are the young pretty girl in the room, aren’t they? Everyone wants to dance with them and they can take their sweet time deciding.

  3. F430-FOX says:

    It seems very clear that Kubica is not keen to return to Renault – sorry Lotus. Can’t fault him for this.

    1. C-M says:

      They still called Renault.

      They will be Lotus in 2012.

  4. Martin says:

    Ferrari would be well to remember how the performance of their existing driver was affected by a major accident…

    1. KGBVD says:

      Can you actually say that Massa was leaps better before his accident? He deputized for an unmotivated Kimi and ended up with the same result as Irvine when he deputized for the injured Schumi (2nd place in the championship).

      Some drivers have it, others don’t. Benchmarking Kubica against Massa, pre-accidents, the difference is night and day — particularly in terms of attitude, reputation, and skill. Kubica is a faster driver (subjective, but unarguable), has never been known as a crash-oholic (Massa had to be groomed as a tester to calm down), and is known to have a stand out work ethic.

      I think Kubica, should everything have been put back together again in the right place, has a much better shot at achieving glory than Massa ever did.

  5. Janet says:

    Looks like Kubica is weighing his options. It almost seems like Renault made the statement in order to lock him out of any negotiations with other teams. It also sends a message that there may be a Renault seat available. Maybe that’s the holdup with the Raikkonen situation…..the plot thickens!

    1. Lynn says:

      Don’t think Kimi wants to be there if Eric is still running the team even though Dave/Steve may have contacted Eric.

      Hmm…but now the Dave Ryan is involved. Has Kimi worked with him before?

  6. sammy says:

    He will only join Ferrari if he’s 100% capable to sit it in the car and race.
    Felipe is confirmed for 2012, so I suppose Kubica will join in 2013(if he’s 100% ready).

    It would be very hypocriet from Ferrar’s side to sack Felipe after the recent comments of Luca D.

    To be honest, I don’t think Kubica will ever race a race again in F1 which would be realy sad…

    1. KGBVD says:

      Luca was saying the same things about Kimi in 2008; contracts mean nothing and F1 ppl don’t mind being hypocritical.

  7. Sebee says:

    Time. Time will answer all our questions.

    Let’s be patient young grasshoppers.

    Can’t blame Morelli for keeping his client’s name on everyone’s mind. In this business, people tend to forget.

    However, someone pointed out that LRGP paid Kubica for the year – likely from an insurance policy as they are not a rich team. In which case is it correct for Morelli to talk “bad” about a team who paid your client 7M after his extracurricular cost the team their #1 driver? As much as I’m no fan of LRGP, they have gone beyond call of duty in dealing with this case in my view.

    1. Grabyrdy says:

      “Patient young grasshoppers”. Hmmm. Thank you for that, my vocabulary of odd phrases has expanded today.

      btw, how can you tell when a grasshopper is young ? No, really, it’s a question.

      1. Sebee says:

        The line is from Kung Fu – 70′s TV show.

        Apparently young grasshoppers don’t have wings. Eventually their patience is rewarded with wings.

        To make this post F1 relevant and symbolism applicable – a young grasshopper is like a junior formula – where you see less wings. Eventually with time drivers get better and get the super wings of an F1 machine. Sometimes flexible ones.

      2. Grabyrdy says:

        Thanks guys. My culture has been completed. So Massa is now top grasshopper ‘cos his wings flex most. Is he, perhaps, about to drop off the twig ?

      3. Sebee says:

        Grabyrdy,

        I do not seek answers, but rather to understand the question.

        But since you seek answers, know that Massa is not a top grasshopper – as he has much learning to do to adopt to the new circumstances he faces. Massa must close his eyes and hear his heartbeat and the grasshopper at his feet to deliver a breakout 2012. Otherwise, he will indeed fall off the twig into the clutches of a bird beek.

        I fear that if we keep this exchange up James will make this post fall off the twig.

      4. Peter says:

        It’s from Kung Fu. As in ” when you can snatch the pebbles from my hand, etc”

      5. Nick the Hippy says:

        From Kung Fu TV show in the 70s.

    2. Bill says:

      If indeed true Sebee, that’s a very good point.

  8. madmax says:

    If he does get back to his best he deserves to be in a top team like Ferrari rather than Renault which is nowhere.

    Alonso and a fit Kubica is a very strong pairing.

  9. Ashutosh says:

    How much ever I hate to write this, Kubica is a spent force unfortunately due to the accident. With the kind of trauma he has been through, there is very little if any chance of him coming back. The inevitable is just being delayed.

    1. KGBVD says:

      That’s a hell of an assessment since he has yet to try to prove himself. Are you basing this on Lauda, Hakkinen or Schumi?

  10. goferet says:

    This brings a whole new meaning to lost in translation.

    I guess the reasoning is that since Kubica won’t be ready for winter testing then he may be forced to miss a good chunk of the season as he tries out other forms of racing trying to come up to speed.

    The reports I have read is that Boullier wants Kubica to guarantee that he will race for them in 2013 before letting him get in their 2012 cars.

    So if Kubica doesn’t agree, he just might miss the 2012 season then jump straight into Ferrari come 2013

    But you know what, am scared for Kubica’s future if he lands the Ferrari drive for ever since the dream team left, Ferrari is that team were formula 1 driver’s careers go to die e.g. Kimi, Badoer & Fisichella.

    And that’s why Jens, Rosberg & Webber turned down that drive, same reason why Prost made Ferrari fire him.

    Hmm, I wonder how long it will take Alonso to catch on to what everybody knows.

    P.s.

    Could it be that Dave Ryan has been coaching Kubica’s manager in the fine art of denial

    1. Steve says:

      not if you are the no. 1 in Ferrari

    2. Frank says:

      “Ferrari is that team were formula 1 driver’s careers go to die”… isn’t that because it’s the team that everyone wants to drive for before they quit? Vettel mentioned last year how he wants to drive at Ferrari at some point..

    3. CartRider says:

      goferet,

      It’s only because there is no life after Ferrari (or at least only after a break, as happened with Schumi and as is likely to happen with Kimi).

  11. Robert Lujan says:

    I hope he can and does move on to Ferrari. He is a very exciting race driver and I would love to see him driving a Ferrari and possibly beating Alonso!

  12. sam rowntree says:

    im not questioning you in any way james, im just fascinated how you know that Kubica is a certainty for a Ferrari seat, ive not heard much elsewere to suggest that? great insight.

  13. mjsib says:

    Kubica and Ferrari is a perfect match. They are the only team with their own track which can give Kubica track time for his rehabilitation

  14. quest says:

    Indeed it doesnt make any sense for Kubica to commit to the Renault team which is doing a fine job of self destructing. If he can show that he is back to his best, lot of other teams would probably be interested in him. If he is not up to it, he wont last long even if he stays at Renault.

    As for Boullier , he dissed and attacked his existing drivers and chased after his injured star driver. Now it appears like that star driver is snubbing him. Mr. Boullier, you got served!!

  15. At least everyone is in agreement that he’s NOT racing this weekend!

    Right?

    Riiiight?

    Robert, Daniel, Eric… talk it over amongst yourselves before you issue press releases! This is as bad as the “oh yeah, Kimi approached us” story of last year. They need to work on this.

  16. Parisian Bob says:

    “He meant not ready for the tests, but ok for the season”

    I like Kubica, but this is formula1. Only the best will do. You can’t expect anyone to put faith in someone who is UNABLE to do the job one week but will be OK another week. Sorry, but I’d say reluctantly Kubica’s f1 career is over.

  17. JD says:

    It seems that LRGP has been on a steady decline since this season. Boullier is sounding like he’s trying to avoid the ship from sinking completely.

    Ferrari is a great option for Kubica. And Morelli holds on the cards in this public negotiation between his client and LRGP.

  18. Steve JR says:

    It would be great to see Kubica driving one of the top 3 cars

  19. andy mccammick says:

    robert at ferrari good ,massa is past his sell by date and it would be could for roberts bank balance ,a come back as alonso s number two !! got to be for the cash as there would be no glory

  20. Ross says:

    I am really looking forward to Eric Boulliers book ‘How not to fun a F1 team’. It will be a great read no doubt.

    Kubica would do well to dodge a bullet and have nothing to do LRPG next season. If they struggle and I can see no signs that they wont it will lead to questions about his fitness.

    A year driving the odd GP2 race and testing with Pirelli or maybe even using Ferraris connections with Sauber towards the end of next year would be a much safer bet to landing a seat at Ferrari for 2013.

  21. Matt W says:

    I can’t see him going to Ferrari unless he has proof that he has lost none of his speed. All the signs from recent examples is that after a year out it is incredibly difficult to recapture the pace, and that is even for drivers that have stayed active.

    Unfortunately he has a very long way still to go.

  22. Chris says:

    Massa gets a note to “prove himself in 2012″ but his seat itself is safe because he “has a contract”. Can’t help but think that is the only reason they are sticking with Massa (which they should do)because of this. If Kubica suddenly proves his fitness either by the start of the season or indeed a few months in I get the strong feeling that Robert will be attending a seat fitting at Maranello.

    1. Oliver Drew says:

      Kiki Raikkonen had a contract too…

  23. Rob Newman says:

    Kubica was one of the best drivers before the accident. But will his performance be good or bad once he gets back? Will Ferrari end up with another Massa? Only time will tell.

  24. Jason Norwood says:

    Why can’t we get something from kubica him self?? I have been on loads of different formula 1 sites and never read anything from kubica it is always from another source

    1. bluefroggle says:

      I was wondering that too.

      What about any pictures of him anywhere. It would have been nice to see him around a Grand Prix a couple of times this season just to show his face and say hello.

  25. garoidb says:

    This is a mess. Renault/Lotus are in a no-win situation from a PR perspective. They will be criticised if they are not seen to support Kubica’s comeback by keeping his seat open, when in reality he would probably be moving on (to Ferrari perhaps) anyway if the accident had not happened. He is under no obligation to explain his situation or his plans, which may not include Lotus/Renault at all.

  26. David Hodge says:

    To add to the comments already stated, which team has its own dedicated test track plus a fleet of “old” F1 cars which could pound round day after day without breaking any testing ban rules? Plus they have various reference points for people like Schumacher and even Valentino Rossi’s times around Fiorino. Surely, if Robert is as fast as Schu in the same car around Fiorino, then he is fit and can race.

    So Robert testing Ferraris and replacing Felipe in 2013. Renault, or what will be Lotus sinking fast. Perhaps Tony Fernandes was actually making a smart move by dropping the Lotus name because it is soon going to associated with decline.

  27. Carlos says:

    Thanks for this article James, I always thought it was common knowledge Kubica would be driving for Ferrari in 2012, now with his accident might be 2013. He is one of the best out there and I am not sure how his accident will affect his speed, clearly it had a negative effect on Massa. Hope he gets better soon and we see him winning races in a red car.

  28. SenseiGT says:

    Kubica is finished.

  29. Pete says:

    The Analysis is pretty simple:

    We love Robert because he is a true racer.

    We strongly dislike Boullier and LRGP because they are a corporate no-show who treats drivers like dirt.

    Kubica to Ferrari with his good friend Alonso in 2013, hopefully…

  30. Phil R says:

    Anyone know how Fernando Alonso feels about Kubica being his team mate? I’m surprised he’s happy about it given he described him in about 2007 as the one driver he feared…

  31. K says:

    What is it with Renault / Eric Bully Boullier making false claims and quotes? Last time on Kimi return which pissed him off big time, and this time Kubica.

    I have less and less respect for this team and its team principle.

  32. Monika says:

    I´ve watched in disbelieve how every time F1 news are related with misquotes and words of disrespect and ¨I said-you said¨ arguments, Eric Boullier is in the middle of it. First, last year when he was exposed by Kimi Raikkonen for using his name and supposed come back negotiations with Renault -False. Then the horrible and even humiliating words he said about Vitaly Petrov (his own driver) during the summer (read them in this same page) and now this about Robert Kubica (also his own driver). Honestly, I think there should be more class in the director level of F1 teams. With the consistent involvement in these type of actions this gentleman loses all the credibility and shows why Renault or whatever is called now, is performing the way they are.

  33. Paul J says:

    I can see kubica missing out on the LRGP seat next year – relationships don’t seem good within that team and I don’t imagine he would be happy there. It’s not the same team he signed up with. I strongly feel that kubica will be training a lot and doing some mid-season testing in either a Ferrari or a Sauber (there is an in-season test in 2012 isn’t there??) and Ferrari will be very keen to have Alonso and Kubica driving their cars for 2013. I also think that Ferrari will then have the strongest driver line-up in the whole field, assuming Kubica can get back to his former speed.

  34. Forzaminardi says:

    I think Kubica and Morelli are doing what they can to wangle a move to Ferrari ASAP without having to damage their chances by turning up for Renault and proving disappointing.

    To be honest a Kubica operating at 50% of his pre-accident ability would be better than a Massa at 100% of his current ability anyway, so hey.

  35. Myefsky says:

    Boullier speaks about “little misunderstanding”:

    http://www.motorsport-total.com/f1/news/20…s_11112426.html

    EB:’ There was perhaps little grammatical corrections’ …

  36. Werewolf says:

    From F1′s perspective, Kubica at Lotus-Renault is the best solution because he is the team’s best chance of a number one driver who can genuinely provide valuable direction, assuming he retains sufficient speed, and another competitive team can only be a good thing.

    From Kubica’s perspective, Ferrari is almost certainly preferable. Massa’s contract gives the Pole a year to get fully fit and Ferrari can afford to give him plenty of track time in a two-year old car pretty much anywhere in the world, perhaps even leading to Friday sessions later in the season once Massa’s future is decided.

    Perhaps perversely, I also think Alonso is the soft option as team mate. Nobody will expect Kubica to beat him straightaway (perhaps, though, to be closer than Massa) but if he does not immediately blow away Petrov, Grosjean or Senna, awkward and confidence-sapping questions will be asked from the outset.

  37. gonzeche says:

    Boullier said they are planning to take on top drivers and that only the car is running behind their long term strategic plan…
    Webber and/or Massa in Lotus in 2013? (as the real top drivers are in top teams!)

  38. Bill says:

    LRGP’s PR is comical.

  39. Kuba says:

    Kubica has kicked out Vllenueve (World Champion and IMO better driver than Massa) so he’d also kick out Felipe. Ferrari’s already tried to get him twice, and I think they know what they’re doing. Kubica won his first race in F3 driving by one hand, when he came back after big accident. After his dramatic crash he came back and won the race, drove many fantastic races etc. Ferrari learned the lesson, and they know how good is Robert.

    Personally, I think that in times of pay-drivers it’s good sign, that somebody looks on someones talent, not his “friends”.

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