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Kubica accepts Renault’s offer to build a team around him
Kubica accepts Renault’s offer to build a team around him
Posted By: James Allen  |  08 Jul 2010   |  1:06 am GMT  |  64 comments

Robert Kubica will drive for Renault for the next two seasons, it was announced today. The Pole has been outstanding at the wheel of the Renault this season, challenging for the win in Monaco and regularly outperforming the car.

What's not to smile at? It's going well for Kubica at Renault (Darren Heath)

That said, the car has been improving dramatically as Renault rediscovers its confidence following the Singapore crash scandal last Autumn. They have brought a steady stream of updates to the car since the start of the season and they have been in front of Mercedes and Ferrari at times this season on pure pace.

“It was a straightforward decision for me to continue with a team where I feel at home,” said Kubica. “What’s important for me is to be in the right atmosphere, with a good group of people, where everybody is pulling in the same direction. This is what we have tried to build from the beginning of my time with Renault.

“I think we have already achieved a lot together, and I believe that with plenty of effort, time and the right approach, we can move even further forward. That is certainly our target, so we will keep working hard and pushing on every front, not just for the rest of this season but also for next year when there are more big rule changes on the way. I am really looking forward to the challenge.”

Kubica was open to offers from Ferrari earlier this season, expecting some possible movement in the position of Felipe Massa, but when Ferrari decided to give the Brazilian another two years, Kubica’s options shortened.

It is interesting that he has linked the term of his contract to that of Massa, although paddock speculation is that Massa is actually on a one plus one deal, with the option on Ferrari’s side for the second year. But Ferrari announced it as two to keep the press off his back and keep the pressure off in 2011.

For Renault, holding on to Kubica is an important step. New team owner Gerard Lopez has said he wants to build the team around the Pole, in much the same way as Ferrari built the team around Michael Schumacher in the late 1990s and early 2000s

“We have a three year plan, all budgeted,” Lopez told me last month. “In 2010 we get to the finish, in 2011 we will be more aggressive, we will aim to win. In 2012 we go for the championship. Kubica is a crucial part of the plan.

“He’s a racer, he lives for racing not politics, ” he added. “Robert has a unique opportunity to build a team around him. Few drivers have the talent that he has to do it and few teams would do it with someone.

“Our objective is to ensure that he contributes as much as possible. In his previous team (BMW) one of the big issues with Robert was that he couldn’t communicate as he wanted because he feared the backlash. Here he is being motivated and pushed to speak as much as he can. It’s a good fit. I’ve never seen him smile as much as he does now.”

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Kubica is a superbly talented driver and he will no doubt end up at Ferrari in the future. On pure talent he is up there with Hamilton and Alonso. Renault just need to sign up Kimi Raikkonen now and that would become a great driver line up and tell the Formula One world, Renault are back in business, back in style and ready to push on for the drivers and constructors titles. Either way never write off Renault.


The thing is though, if they went for kimi that’s about 10m at least taken out of their dev budget to pay kimi.

Petrov is learning and should be given a chance for next year too. Renault and benetton had a history of success. I think he would be silly to consider mercedes until they prove the brawn year was not a flash in the pan.


I think Ross Brawn may have had some success at Ferrari at some point too.


Don’t get me wrong. Ross is top drawer too. no debating that.

It has to be also recognised that Rory Byrne and Jean Todt were also there (both being top drawer in their own rights).

I thought it was great what happened with Brawn last year, with the buyout then getting in Mercedes engines and benefitting from focussing on their 2009 car. My point is that, they have not yet proven the ability to do it in more than one year.

Same engine, same tech staff, two good drivers, poor car at this point.


I would rate Kubica in the top 3 of F1 drivers on the current grid. I’m stunned he’s not been offered a seat at RBR, Ferrari or Mercedes given his performance in the Renault. Still it’s excellent news for Renault.


All of those places already have a strong No1 favoured driver though. Renault are in the position where he can push them along as the lead driver.

Would he get that at Ferrari (Alonso), Merc (MS or Nico) or RBR (Seb).

I think its a really wise move.


It is an important move for the drivers market.

Kubica has raced in Italy and he can speak several languages including Italian and it is very peculiar that he did not want to committ to Ferrari if the rumours and interest were correct.

Daniele MOrelli, his manager, always had a very good link with Ross Brown at Ferrari, maybe Kubica will drive for Mercedes from 2012.

He is a very capable and fast racer but I think he is happy to be at Renault for the time being, he is not a PR machine such as Hamilton, Button, Alonso and Schumacher.

He is doing his taking on the circuit and so far has been very competitive, I guess helped by a very aggressive development program by Renault.

He could be a very tough opponent in a very fast car.

A drive that could be upsetting the DWC this season in some races expecially if it will rain, amybe even at Silverstone.


How much is he getting paid? Massa?


Does anyone else find the Mercedes, and to a lesser extent, Ferrari, rumors a little transparent now that Kubica re-signed? From the get-go I thought that Mercedes’ rumored interest in Kubica was suspect due to their plans for both Schumacher and Rosberg through 2012.

All of this looks like it was a bit of artificial value-inflation by the Kubica camp…

That being said, good for Robert and Renault, they seem to be a good pairing going forward.


Indeed, I guess that’s what management is for, as Kubica is more bothered about the car than his bank balance.


“For Renault, holding on to Kubica is an important step. New team owner Gerard Lopez has said he wants to build the team around the Pole, in much the same way as Ferrari built the team around Michael Schumacher in the late 1990s and early 2000s”

Does this mean the return of team orders with the car optimised for Kubica as No. 1 and a wingman to cover his back? If not then what? How else do you ‘build a team around’ a driver?


I think what they mean by that is in terms of development for the car they are going to really be going on advice from Kubica or something.

I could obviously be horribly wrong, but that’s just one of the possibilities.

Either way, it’s good that he is staying on board there because they’ve been doing great this season and if they keep up at this rate Renault and Kubica should be right up at the front properly without Kubica having to drag the Renault into places it “shouldn’t be in”.

Along with that hopefully Petrov can keep his steady form going and start picking up points consistently.


It is fair point. Quite often second… well let’s say other driver benefited from teammate’s understanding of the car. Two seasons immediately pop into mind. Senna using Prost’s setups in 1988. and beating and frustrating him (actually, that much that at some point Prost tried some last minute aero adjustments, only not to benefit from it) and last year when, on couple of occasions, Barrichello used Button’s setup and outqualified him.


Yes that has come into play a bit as well actually. Drivers using their team-mates set up instead and it has been beneficial in various ways.

Admittedly though, was it actually more often than not that Button ended up using more of Barrichello’s set up? I’m referencing more to the struggling days of Honda in 2007 and 2008 in particular.

On a further note, this goes back to Kimi Raikkonen if he were to sign with Renault. I believe James Allen actually reported Kimi is a relatively good developer of a car since the engineers ask him: “Did that make you go/feel faster or more comfortable?” Kimi’s answer: “Yes/No”

Engineers try something else and same thing.

So in a sense if he were to be partnered with Kubica it would have some benefit in that he wouldn’t have to be asked constantly for what the car felt like, he just replies back with: “The car did this and that at that corner and this corner” and the engineers can sort it out.

Obviously Kubica is also very good in his feedback I’m presuming given the Renault’s development this year in that he gives a very detailed explanation of what he wants to happen.


Kenny. Fair point about building on his knowledge. I guess it’s the phrase ‘the same way as Ferrari built the team around Michael Schumacher’ that makes me wonder! Back in those days it was accepted that the wingman would take every opportunity to hold back the rest of the field so No 1 could build a lead. They really made it a team sport then! Perhaps if Ferrari could get their wish for 3 cars we could see some real tactical driving!


Some very tactical driving indeed, albeit I don’t think this is the area that F1 needs to reinvest some money into for the sport.

I’ll maybe message it somepoint, but basically I think what Stefano (surname I can’t remember how to spell) on the panel was right about a mid-season testing.

Now along with that, perhaps the test session could take place at different venues each year.

He mentioned at Silverstone, but I think what could happen is obviously that year Silverstone, then the following year at Paul Ricard or something, then the next at Spa-Francorchamps and so on.

Personally if they were to invest some money back into the sport and it was to be for some in season testing I think this method could be good because it means the other circuits that had the testing before during a season can get their “fair” share of income from the fans travelling to the circuit to watch the cars do testing.


It means something more along the lines of developing the car in a way that will benefit Kubica’s style and preferences. Normally teams will develop a car that should in theory be equally as “good” for both drivers. Sure, sometimes the #1 driver will get upgrades before the #2 driver, but the case in Renault is that the underlying core of the car will be made to suite Kubica’s needs.

That is really, really, cool for Kubica.


Ok Raphael, so that’s one of my points agreed, the car will favour Kubica. So what if it happens to suit the No 2 just as well and he mounts a serious challenge to Robert? Will Renault allow them to race or resort to team orders to maintain their promise to be ‘Roberts team’? As has been said in other posts here, the whole concept of building a team around a single driver surely must mean the team is prepared to bend the rules.


Is it something new in the sport – Schumacher-Irvine-Barichello-Massa, Alonso-Fissi, Hammy-Kovalainen? It all depents of the team – how far will they go with this “bending”.

In 2008 BMW scratched their heads why Bobby was faster than Nick in the car built to favour the latter. All the steam have been directed to Nick’s “understanding the problem” not developing the car and we know how it ended.

So generally I don’t see anything wrong with clear message to both the drivers at the begginig of the season. It’s better than Mclaern approach of illusive equality.

As for Kimmi – I think he would suit Lopes’ Renault better than Ferrari (freedom of speach, not to much media stuff, freedom of rally racing).


imagine renault becomes world champion in 2012 with kubica, and alonso doesn’t make it with ferrari. Wouldn’t it be something.

And to make another twist, hamilton goes to the scuderia after three years, and alonso retires, and yes ham gives the championship to them. The renault thing it’s hard to believe, but hamilton’s, it easily can happen.


Oh, good Lord, Senna! Hamilton to give Ferrari the WDC when Alonso had failed?!! What a cruel imagination! Do you want poor Fernando’s head to explode?


i know. And you know what makes it even more crazy, i was an alonso fan during his world championship years. But since 2007, and all the talking he got me upset.

Going to ferrari, pushing kimi out, crying all the time and on top of that he is not winning anymore, making so many mistakes. And many people saying he is the best driver. I am not buying it. Are you?

pd. I am from a town 20 km from oviedo, where he was born.

Zobra Wambleska

I’d be surprised if Lewis ever goes to Ferrari. Before the Schumacher days Ferrari had gone twenty years without a championship, and while I think they are better than that now I don’t see them making the same kind of dominant impression. Hamilton would need to feel his chances were better there than at McLaren. Can you really see that happening with the current Ferrari team?


just imagine ham gets two more world championships at mclaren. He would need another challenge, and if ferrari comes with an offer, he would take it. And if you look at the way he talks about alonso when they get into trouble, he never talks bad about ferrari. More difficult things happened in f1. Believe me, i follow the sport for 30 years.

Zobra Wambleska

Senna, you may be right, certainly drivers want new challenges, but I just don’t see a Hamilton/Ferrari fit. I too am aware of the odd things that happen in F1, I’ve been a fan since 1956.


are you counting on Jenson to kick Lewis out of McLaren? On merit, politics or both?


kimi second driver to kubica? it doesn’t seem right.


Kimi wont be replacing Kubica with Vetaly Petrov but its still not sure, but its quite a strong rumor that Kimi might make a come back to F1 in Renault


“We have a three year plan, all budgeted”

“In 2010 we get to the finish”

“In 2011 we will be more aggressive, we will aim to win.””

In 2012 we go for the championship.”

Oh oh, a 3-year master plan. All laid-out and approved by the Board.

Now, Robert, where have you heard of such plans before?


I hope he has a release clause for when Ferrari come knocking….


He will be free in the same year Massa’s contract comes to an end. But would he leave a team that has been built around him to go to Ferrari and mop the floor before Alonso enters a room?


Not really a surprise, considering other options. It would be wonderful to have Kimi back in F1 which would make Renault a formidable force.

I would pay good money to see those two at a press conference.

‘Wow, what a race Kimi, how do you feel’?

Kimi – ‘I mean it was ok’.

‘Robert, how was your race’?

Robert – ‘I lost 3rd gear and could not turn left, but I still managed the fastest lap so I’m happy’.


Count me in (for paying up to see the Bobby & Kimi show).

I cannot imagine anything more racing hardcore than such an atypical (in a good way) team.


Hi James,

Based on your comments about Petrov, it sounds like the rumours of Kimi going to Renault for next season are just wishful thinking.

Would it be fair to say you think Petrov is the strong favourite for the seat next year and that Kimi is unlikely to be back in F1?


I hope they don’t do a BMW with their “three year plan”. If they are more competitive than they expect next year and find themselves in the title hunt, I would hope they pool all their resources into fighting for the championship rather than looking towards next year just because that’s the “schedule”.

I’m sure Kubica wouldn’t let that happen though…


This is terrific news and I think Robert has made a very wise decision.

He is an outstanding talent and it is good to see him smile.


This is a great news for both Robert and Renault – a real racer in a real racing team.

Robert is doing a fantastic job this year but so is Renault and the 22 iteartions of the front wing perfectly represent it.

I keep my fingers crossed and I hope that they will exceed the expectations and Robert will win still this year and challenge for the WDC in 2011.


Great news. I really look forward to seeing what this partnership can bring. Hopefully a championship challenging car


Building a team around someone will surely lead to blatant team orders. Which I believe is against the rules. I don’t doubt Kubica’s talent. He deserves the praise so I don’t think he needs such attention. He is good enough to race a team mate on equal terms. The Ferrari precedent with MS turned off a lot of fans including me… when you look how well McLaren are doing with equal treatment I don’t think the sport needs it myself. I wonder how Petrov feels about it? He has done ok and has some real racing spirit. I would hate to see that diminished.

Ian Blackwell

No big surprise here. From both the driver and the team’s point of veiw – if it aint broke dont fix it.



I think you misinterpreted Lopez’s words, I don’t really think Renault are going to build a team around one driver, especially considering that fact that Renault officials said they wanted Raikkonen to drive for them in 2011.


i recall reading about this when Massa’s contract was still under discussion


He said it in conversation with me recently. This is very definitely what he meant


apparently Kubiqa would rather have two good drivers in the team than have a team built up just around him according to a interweave on autosport today… and Kimi has stated also today that he has offers from both rally and f1 teams at the moment but hasnt made upp his mind yet. There isn’t so many teams that would/could give a offer to kimi.

Any thoughts about this?


So James, are you saying that Renault don’t want Raikkonen? Or have they already been told by the Robertson’s that Kimi doesn’t want to come back?

Michael Grievson

I don’t think Kimi will been seen back in F1 unless its in a championship winning car.

Although it would be good to see him back.


I suppose that for building a racing team around a driver, the owner / manager will be looking for someone fast and naturally motivated, who is also willing to involve himself as much as possible in the whole process of racing. Feedback and direction on the technical and operational sides included. Even give a hand on marketing and PR (generating more resources for racing).

For all we know, as naturally fast as he is, Kimi does not fit that bill. Give him a decent car and he may make miracles happen, but don’t ask him to get involved too much on day-to-day operations, let alone motivate others – which is arguably the toughest job of a leader.

That’s not to say that a team built around Kubica would not accommodate Kimi. Just that Kimi would rather not be bothered to assume such a leading role.


A interesting quote from Kimi today:

Kimi “I have offers in both Rally & F1 next year. Right now I am comfortable here”


James, does that imply antyhing in regard to the second seat in Renault? Petrov will stay? Do you have some more information about alleged second seat in Renault for Raikkonen?


I think it’s a win/win situation for both the team and the driver.

Kubica is part of a team that is aggressively moving forward with what

looks like a well thought out plan for the future. In return the team have

a driver that is equal to any of the top drivers you’ll find on the starting grid.

And is it not refreshing having a driver that is only interested in driving and not



The Gap between Kubica and Petrov is far greater than the one between Alonso vs Piquet, well we all know Piquet vs Petrov see Petrov coming out on top, does that mean Kubica is better than Alonso?

I knew he was…


Lets not get ahead of ourselves. Once Kubica collects two WDCs at Renault, we will be able to make proper comparisons.


Ofcourse he is!!!


if kubica was better than alonso then he’d have never been bettered by heidfeld and would have done better in the bmw than he did.

also id argue that petrov isnt any better than piquet, looking at there performance in lower categories piquet did better than petrov in every category.

also grosjean was outperforming petrov as his team mate in gp2 last year untill grosjean moved upto f1, and grosjean was no better in the renault than piquet was and was about the same gap off alonso as piquet had been.


kubica was not equally treated in bmw versus heidfeld, and petrov did perform better than both piquet and grosjean…


Your conclusion is music to my ears.. Hope guys in Enstone are in position to build the winning car…


Very impressed with Kubica and Renault. To me this partnership feels so much stronger than the previous one of Alonso/Renault. Maybe key personal have changed which might be getting Renault back on track? I would like to know how big a team Renault has, and if they have to shrink heavily like Maclaren, Ferrari do next year?


Hi James,

Any news about the future of Petrov yet?


I think he is well regarded there and important for the push into Russia


That said, is Mikhail Aleshin drive a possibility?

Stuart fenton

I like him. He’s shown the blunders that are the norm for rookies. Mistakes ala sutil a few years ago, errors like beumi/algers etc. But Petrov really has something, he’s shown rare moments of genius. One to watch FOR SURE


Yes I quiet like the look of him too. He’s probably trying too hard on occasion but he does have a bit of fight about him that I like to see.


I applaud this manoeuvre and I dream of Renault adding Kimi Raikonnen as a second driver. Then they would be formidable, with two drivers that are all about the racing without any of the drama or whinging we see from some of the other top drivers (Alonso).


Kimi would not accept a deal in a team built round another driver. I think he would want equal treatment which this deal closes out.

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