F1 Winter Break
Renault snubbed by Kimi Raikkonen as Bob Bell leaves team
Scuderia Ferrari
Renault snubbed by Kimi Raikkonen as Bob Bell leaves team
Posted By: James Allen  |  06 Oct 2010   |  7:21 pm GMT  |  71 comments

Today Renault was at the centre of two stories. First Kimi Raikkonen distanced himself from the team’s recent suggestions that he was in discussions with them about next year and then the team announced that managing director and former technical chief Bob Bell had left the team.

Team Principal Eric Boullier has been promoted to managing director and so now holds the exact same position as Flavio Briatore held.

Raikkonen is angry with Renault (Darren Heath)

Raikkonen’s quotes in a Finnish newspaper end the speculation about his possible return to the sport with Renault. It was Boullier who let it out in Monza that Raikkonen’s management had been in touch and while Raikkonen doesn’t deny it, he says that the team has made far more of it publicly than they should have. He said that his manager Steve Robertson had spoken to Renault once, “weeks ago and that is all”.

“I am very disappointed with the way they have used my name for their marketing,” he told Turun Sanomat newspaper. “I have never seriously considered driving for Renault, and I can assure you 100 per cent that I will not be driving for them next year,”

Raikkonen’s current deal is with Red Bull who fund his drive with the Citroen junior team in rallying. This contract needs renewing for next season.

It seemed odd when Boullier mentioned the talks with Raikkonen, first because teams and drivers normally want to keep these things quiet and second because the Finn had made many disparaging remarks about F1 during the course of the year.

Boullier reiterated in Singapore that the team hopes current second driver Vitaly Petrov will raise his game sufficiently in the final races of the season to justify being retained for 2011. The Russian has had an erratic season with some strong performances punctuated by mistakes. But his presence in the team is a very useful platform for the commercial department to develop business relationships and sponsorships in Russia.

Boullier has rubbished Raikkonen’s claims this weekend, “We have not piggy-backed on Kimi’s image at all, which is what he has been claiming in the press,” Boullier told Autosport.com.

“We were contacted by his managers after Spa. They wanted to enter into discussions and at that time we said: ‘Please wait. Yes, we are very flattered that you have contacted us, but we need to finish the evaluation of Vitaly’s [Petrov] potential and from that point, when we have our own conclusion, we will get back to you.’ There was nothing else.”

Meanwhile Bob Bell is no longer with the team, having left his role as managing director, which he held since the Singapore crash scandal blew up last Autumn. When Briatore was removed, Bell took over as team principal for the final part of 2009, prior to the take over by Gerard Lopez’ Genii Capital company.

Bell rose to the top as an engineer, starting out at McLaren before working as number two to Mike Gascoyne at Jordan and then Renault. Bell took over in charge of the technical department, when Gascoyne left for Toyota. He worked closely with Pat Symonds, Bell overseeing the design and build of the car, Symonds overseeing the racing of it.

There is no word on where the Northern Irishman is going next but his technical management skills are likely to be in demand in the pit lane. He may even be reunited with Gascoyne one day.

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why not at Williams


I mean for bob bell don,t care about Raikonnen


As regards Raikkonen - I hate to say I told you so


When people say that F1 has the best drivers in the world they actually don't otherwise Raikkonen would be racing. Obviously alot of the drivers on the grid are there on merit but others are just there because of money or nationality which is a shame when F1 is supposed to be the pinnicle of motorsport but unfortunatly F1 is controlled by money to such an extent that it has to give up some of it's ideals, whereas sports such as top end football has the luxury of using money to get the best players whereas F1 seems to be the reverse.


On the spot there, MR, could you ever imagine a football player with sponsors buy himself in to the FC Barcelona team? No. Truth is that the car, and the team, is crucial for success. Most of the drivers are capable of fighting for victories if the car is good enough. And then there are some very special drivers, with exceptional talent, like Alonso, Hamilton – and Kimi. Pity they all don´t drive in F1.


James you are on fire with the number of posts at the mo. it's a fan's bonanza.


Indeed! Please keep it up!


So it’s all about getting some leverage in contract renegotiations with RB rallying then?

I feel anticlimactic.


I read it as the reverse. It's Renault using it as leverage with or motivation for Petrov


shame to see bob bell leave, thought he done rather well as a stand in principle in difficult circumstances. do you think he was pushed by the new owners?

as for kimi coming back, i doubt after the way he left ferrari he gave it serious thought at all, certainly not if he's not in with a shout of another title!

who do you think will get the second seat at renault, petrov, sutil, glock or heidfeld now he's free for next year???


I think Petrov has done fine for a rookie and I truly feel sorry for him, because Renault should jump at the chance to hire Sutil, Glock or Heidfeld. Any of the 3 would be a great partner to Kubica and were they there now, Renault could be ahead of Mercedes in the standings.


So why has he left now, at this stage of the season? Anyone know?


Excellent journalism James - You were the first to say many GP's ago that no Manager talks to the press of future drivers - therefore it's always been very suspect. I've lost respect for Boullier.

Here's hoping Bob Bell ( how strange that he's been running a Renault engine ) goes to Lotus as that will start to gel even more of a force at Lotus.


Boullier has now refuted Kimi's claim and is shouting even louder that this is all the fault Kimi and the media. Arguments with World Champions is not a good look.

Boullier - The underhand way you go about attracting attention reminds me of another at Renault who was underhand at gaining results.


I am under the impression that there is unwritten rule or etiquete that both parties, the team and the driver, do not reveal any details of any approach or negotiation. Boullier certainly has broken all these rules and underhandedly made use of the publicity to push Petrov for more sponsorship money or performance on the track. If Boullier does not really know the rules, then he is in no position to take over the Managing Director post. What he told the press in defence is all rubbish. I hope the team under him will go down the hill. We don't need any more unscrupulous people in F1.


Agree with you Rickee Boy, I really have lost respect for Boullier. After all the things Renault went through last year, I thought its best to keep out of the limelight and not blow your own horn. Using other peoples status to gain your own advantage (without proper due) is a move that is quite dishonest, dishonesty which reminds me what happened in Singapore 🙁

Even the super chill Raikonnen was angry enough to mention this...


Kimi didn't mention that he isn't coming back to F1. He just said Renault. There is clearly some negotiation going on with another team. Mercedes?


Since he's driving for RB in WRC its more likely he'll be driving with RB in F1


I was really hoping that Kimi would return next year, he is one of my favourite drivers. At the same time i think i am glad as i don't see Renault as a top team next year. Hopefully the Kimi and Red-bull rumour might happen in 2012.


i agree. I think next year renault it's going to be no better than this year, posibly worse. And i agree with raikkonen. Boullier, as the businessman he is, was taking advantage of the situation, and was using kimi's name to creat atention to his team. My view is that he was always going to keep petrov, and the rest was serving several purposes, motivating the russian being one of them. And now bell is gone!! I hope he knows what he is doing. We'll see next year.


Off to Ferrari too?


Boullier is a liability.

He's now destroyed Petrov by first saying he's on his way out because Raikkonen wanted in.

Raikkonen has now publicly said it was a load of crap just made up for PR reasons.

And now Petrov knows he is unwanted and will be out next year.

So Boullier has created a one driver team for the remaining races. I bet Lada and Snoras are delighted.


Renault has been a one driver team all year long. Boullier finalised that when he re-signed Kubica saying he would 'Build the team around him' over the next three years.

There was never any scope for Kimi to fit into that plan and it was just a cut throat way to generate publicity and hype around the team and the sport.

If anything this has been good for F1 and I actually applaud Boullier for giving his rookie a hurry up, creating more interest in F1 on the whole and creating a real hype around his team. It's clear he has ruthlessly good business sense and that is something Russians are attracted to. I should know, my Dad's Russian!


I think there's a difference between giving a hurry up and publicly saying he's too slow for the team.

Might be true, but if that's the case, replace him with Chandhok straight away.

I think Renault need to look at how McLaren handled Kovalainen during the second half of last year.


I can't say i agree Petrov will feel bad about only being involved with a PR stunt. He's well aware that he only landed the seat this year due to his financial backing over Ho Pin Tung or any other available driver from last year.


Let's not kid ourselves with thinking that Kimi was/is the only option to replace Petrov. There are plenty better drivers available.


when does massa contract ends ? Alonso & Raikkonen at ferrari would bee soo good..


Felipe's contract was extended until the end of 2012.


Hope not to see Kimi back in Ferrari. IMO we will see there Robert Kubica... and probably before the end of 2012.



As Bob Bell has more of history as a Technical Director but took over the role of Managing Director for Renault after Flavio left and now Eric Boullier has taken over this role ( He has zero Technical history ).

Will Renault be hurt significantly by losing a Senior Technical Manager ???


I think so. Bob Bell was at the heart of the success Benneton had with Brawn and Pat Simonds.

I would not be surprised at all if we see Bob and Pat at Ferarri next year.

Having said that I don't actually with whom Bob Bell gets on better, Pat or Ross, so maybe Mercedes?

Can't see him going to Lotus just yet as I don't think they can offer him what he will want both money wise and set up wise.

Would be interesting to see your views on this James.


OT. James, not write up on Peter Warr, who just passed away?


I must have woken after a decade of sleeping (and I hope JA's readers are better then other sites fanboy posters for when i say this) but i just dont get all the love for Raikkonen. Il admit he's a good driver, but the man is just so boring. Ive enjoyed this season, all the top runners are colourful characters and make me want to listen to what they say as much as i want to watch them race eachother. KR is a solid racer, no doubt about that, but can you imagine him sitting in the BBC forum with Eddie Jordan throwing question after question at him?

Please dont confuse this with me hating the man, I dont. Im just indifferent as to whether he returns or not. If he came back to the sport, then its good for the racing (another WDC on the grid) and and the fanboys will be happy, but it wont matter to me if he doesnt. I got an impression last year that he just didnt care enough about the racing. He won his WDC and seemed to loose any motivation after that. All the demanding big money for the Mclaren seat that went to Button said to me that he didnt want it really and was just punting. If he got the seat, he would be richer, if not he could go rallying which I think he wanted to do anyway.

Like I said, if he comes back then its great. If not, meh, theres always dozens of people who will want to be in F1.


Hi S.J.M

I have to disagree, I remember Kimi in the McLaren days when he was the only competition to Schumi and had a lot of excellent, exciting races. I don’t think he gelled that well in Ferrari. Ferrari wanted a team leader, someone single minded and selfish (Schumi, Alonso) to pull the team together and drive the team forward. I think Kimi is a colourful character, you just have to read about what he gets up to in his spare time. But the corporate nature of F1 means that you cant really be yourself. I am sure all the drivers are very different in their free time. Remember that in the second half of last season, he was one of the highest scoring drivers, doesn’t sound like someone that doesn’t care, or is uninterested. Maybe he got the car to work for him by then. This is also when he must have known that he was being ditched by Ferrari for Alonso. The reason he didn’t join McLaren was that Ferrari offered him a deal that said that if he took the year out they would pay his standard salary, if he drove for another team he would get less. So it made sense for him to take the year out and try rallying. His brother is a rally driver, am sure he thought why not give it a go, nothing to lose. I think Kimi and Red Bull would be a perfect match, and I am sure Newey has good things to say about him from his McLaren days. Come back Kimi! and yes I am a fanboy.


Fair enough, though in my opinion it is exactly the character that Kimi has that makes me like him. Someone can be interesting even if he doesn't speak a word!

While I agree with you that he has lost his fire to drive in F1, I have to wonder where you got this "all the big money he demanded from McLaren" from. Everyone who has some inside information on this (Whitmarsh from McLaren and Helmut Marko from Red Bull) have said publicly that Kimi made clear it to them that he only wants to rally. That is the reason he doesn't drive for McLaren this year, not his salary demands. While I'd like to see him in F1, one has to respect the fact that he is doing something he actually wants to instead of driving in F1 just because F1 is the top dog of motorsports.


That link tells that McLaren and Kimi did not reach an agreement on him driving for them this season, but nothing on the reasons. Later on, Whitmarsh has commented on it as follows:

"Question: "How realistic was a return of Kimi Räikkönen?"

MW: "I honestly admit that I am a big fan of Kimi. It was close, but it did not work. We've tried it, because together with Kimi, we still have a score to settle. He is super fast, exciting. I like his honesty and his way, but he has this penchant for the rally sport and that could have influenced the decision. "

( http://www.motorsport-total.com/f1/news/2010/03/Whitmarsh_Bin_ein_grosser_Fan_von_Kimi_10031229.html )

To me, it sounds like it was Kimi's decision not to join McLaren, not McLaren's decision not to hire Kimi, and that Whitmarsh thinks it was because Kimi wanted to do rallying, just like I explained before.

Also, very recently, Helmut Marko in an interview said that they were in talks with Kimi about driving for Red Bull in their F1 car this season, but Kimi insisted on rallying, so that's the deal they made with him then.


Superb SJM agree with you 100% - Kimi was always so freezing cold - but yet it's strange how you warm to a Guy who's so enthusiastic and knowledge and loves everything about every GP since the 60's .... Karun Chandhok !!!


Kimi at Red Bull one day...

I can dream!


It is surprising that it took Kimi this long to protest. Whether or not Kimi would be in line for the seat, I wonder if Webber will continue in 2011 should he win the WDC? Not much point except perhaps financially. Raikkonen and Vettel?


I agree I have been thinking the exact same thing. Especially after all the 'Favourtisim' going on in Red BULL against Webber. Surely better for him to go out on a high if he wins the WDC and 2 fingers up to Vettel?! Raikkonen and Vettel would be an interesting match?!


would not bet against him finding a good home at Team Lotus ,if i was the bigger teams i would be getting a little worried about Team Lotus...


It was my thought, that if they contacted Renault, they probably contacted a few other teams, also. Or other teams contacted them, & they were just running up a flag and seeing which way & where the wind was blowing.


James - do you have any inside info on possible ongoing negotiations for KR in F1 for 2011? All seats at competitive teams appear to have been taken. But do you think Mercedes will reassess the situation after the tyre test in Abu Dhabi, or for that matter Red Bull if they don't win the championship despite their clear car superiority for most of 2010? Thanks.


Not hearing his name and don't forget that Renault is the best seat available for next year


While conspiracy theorists are having fun with Bell's departure, isn't this more about the great job James Allison has been doing which made Bell redundant?


Whether Webber wins it this year, or not, Raikkonen will partner Vettel at RB next season.

This is what my close sources inside of the tight F1 circles have told me. 🙂


I really would like that 🙂


Pretty dissapointed not to see Raikkonen next year. I thought him and Kubica would be a great team to really start pushing the top teams. If Renault are serious about being contenders next year they need to get rid of Petrov - they need to have 2 experienced drivers with the potential to win a world championship. Kubica is an absolute gun, he need some support to improve the car, Petrov wont deliver that for years


Don't fall for the old 2 step, Kimi was interested but I believe Money and a 2nd team are showing interest in him killed the deal.

I think he may struggle on his return. He looks a lot heaver than when he raced last.

Lotus should have a good look at him,it's an opportunity For Kimi to help develop a Team and he will be able to prove to the public that he can be a team player.


Lotus would not want to meet Kimi's wage demands and more importantly they need someone with drive and application at this stage of their developement.


Interesting one of his comments... ' and I can assure you 100 per cent that I will not be driving for them next year'...

So he wont be driving for renyualt. There is still a chance of coming back with another team. Williams have a spot open (and are on the up), mercedes may have a spot open schumacher leaving mid or end of next season with raikkonen coming in directly to replace (mercedes have money), Force India isn't likely at all. So that is it.

I personally really like the guy and want to see him in F1, WRC isn't doing any credit to his ability, he is a single seat driver and really can't drive a WRC to save his life. He crashes, and is always minutes and minustes and minutes off the pace, nowhere near challenging for podiums (usually 30 seconds off or a min off or so).

Given how easily Raikkonen picked F1 up with sauber ages ago it isn't unlikely that he can pick it back up after 1.5 - 2 years away. The REd bUll contract will be a big one. If he can't stay in WRC then he will be a top driver without a drive which is sad and horrifying.

Boullier I have lost so much respect for, yes he is recharging the team but also taking it as a power ride. but James, you were wrong on one aspect, he isn't like flavio yet - because he doesn't manage and hence control teh career of the drivers that he is meant to look at from a team principle and manager way aswell.

If there is one reason why F1 needs a budget cap, its to stop teams just bringing in or trying to bring in danica (female), petrov (russian), ho-ping whoever (chinese), chandok (india, although with talent i think), the new sauber guy (for his carlos slim money) etc.. for money.

Probably a budget cap is wrong, maybe more like a driver cap. i.e. a driver can only bring in a certain amount of money say 3 million pounds. Any extra russian sponser or whatever aren't then guarenteed and the better driver should get it as the better driver will get the team more than someone born in the correct coutry


How does Williams have a spot open? As far as I know the Hulk and Bari are staying on.

Boulier is getting stick here but I find that a little much. Fact is that Kimi's manager contacted Renault.

I bet he just rang up and said: "you fancy Kimi joining for $10m next year?" and Eric saying, not for that money but let's talk cause we love Kimi. then Kimi must have just said, either I get paid what I'm worth or I'm sitting it out another year. (has he not done this one before??)

If Kimi is such a nice and straight shooting guy, why does he not just tell his fans in the first place if he does or does not want to be back in F1. If I was his fan I would get a little tired of the man.

Anyways, who cares about Raikonnen when you got Kubica!


Kubica is 50% the driver Kimi is.. so FYI the world cares 🙂


It's not that Petrov is unwanted - F1 wants the Russian market - it's just that he makes some mistakes and anybody looking at the situation would expect the team to put a question mark over his head, so they do. But it is all just part of the game, keeping Renault in the headlines and burying the public image they lost over Singapore. Spin doctors at work, wagging the dog. I'll be surprised if he is not still there next year.


I still think Webber could drive for them next year. I Kubica is great, but they need a 2nd driver that can push him.

The way Kubica came in to change his tyres then cut through the field passing cars on old tyres. Looked like to me, someone with a point to prove to his team.

It was like, "look" I can pass cars too.


who is boullier anyway?


My thoughts exactly


Why did Kimi's manager Steve Robertson contact Renault?

That is the big question, because it shows that Kimi might want to return to F1.

He says, he never seriously considered driving for Renault, but he doesn't say anything about F1. Maybe this is a signal to a team that he is not negotiating to another side.

What was the reason for Eric Boullier to go public about it, PR reasons as Kimi said?

I find the whole story a bit strange, there must be something we don't know about.


I think Kimi is firing back at Eric Boullier for his comments about Kimi's motivation

"Regarding Kimi, I would have to speak personally with him first, look him in the eyes to see if I see enough motivation there for him to return to Formula 1.

"It doesn’t make sense to hire somebody - even a former World Champion - if you can’t be sure that his motivation is still one hundred percent. Why should you invest in somebody who leaves you guessing?"

Can you imagine a F1 champion being questioned about his motivation by him. I have all the respect for Eric Boullier. But I would be ashamed for Kimi if he didn't respond to that comment. Well done Kimi!


I say well done Eric for not just drewling over the prospect of Kimi in your car. He is spot on that Kimi's motivation is and has been at times a big question mark, so I rather like his open and honest approach.

you can also assume that Eric will have said the same thing to his or his manager's face.

If Kimi does not like to face the music, he should stay in WRC or drive DTM with Ralf or something.


More than any other driver in F1 except Hamilton and Alonso, Kimi is only interested in winning.

Lotus are making fantastic progress on and off the track but I can't see any circumstances in which he would go to the team in 2011.

I can't see Red Bull taking Kimi in 2011 either : there is far more publicity to be gained by him maybe starting to win podiums in a Red Bull Rally Car when they will likely already have the current World Champion in their F1 car.

Mark will almost certainly be out at the end of next season and if Adrian Newey can design a 2011 car that does as well as this year's we could see Kimi replace Mark in the Red Bull F1 team for 2012

Personally I would like to see him stay on and become WRC at some point : that would be a brilliant achievement and the sport needs a real uplift at the moment.


I'm devastated that Kimi won't be on the grid for 2011, but however, its rather premature to come to conclusion.. I think he is sticking to RB Tribe for a reason and in my wishful imagination I think if Webber loses the championship from this point, which seems likely with Ferrari coming on strong and Mclaren Boys are ready to unleash their claim to the championship. Then Kimi looks a perfect candidate for RB. This would work good for both of them. This will re-unite Kimi with Adrian (both ex Mclaren) and we all know from the past just how lethal the combination of Kimi and Adrian is. And RB can concentrate on Seb's Development (its time he matured up) for Kimi is a non-interfering driver and at the same time is frighteningly quick.

This year if Kimi would've been in a Redbull, he would be or would've wrapped up the championship already for RB. I don't think a lot of people would disagree with me on this one, since no one can dispute just how insanely quick he is as a driver.

I feel the Torro Rosso has a stronger driver line-up then Redbull.. But the cars differ, if TRs would've been 70% as good as RBs the drivers would've delivered more hard fought results then RB drivers.

As far as Renault is concerned.... oh gee... they didn't need this... with Kimi's statement yesterday has made them an international laughing stock to top cheat tag they have so famously acquired last year.

I want KIMI in a Redbull for F1 sakes for 2011.


That Kimi Raikkonen won't be signing for Renault isn't a huge surprise.

Raikkonen has made it quite clear that he's only interested in returning to F1 in a frontrunning car. While Renault has made considerable progress in 2010 they still have a way to go before they can consistently challenge for victories and titles.

Meanwhile the difficult state of Renault's finances are such that they've taken on a pay driver for 2010. Replacing Petrov with an unfunded driver for 2011 is one cost pressure, but paying the type of salary Raikkonen would demand would be an altogether larger pressure. Besides, Renault is clearly planning its future around Robert Kubica, i.e. a strong lead driver who can give the team a real centre around which to focus its efforts.

That is, after all, how the team has been successful before - with Fernando Alonso in 2005 and 2006, and Michael Schumacher in the team's former guise as Benetton.


I think it looks like KR wants to have a reasonable shot at the WRC, but if he can have a year there and wait for Mark Webber to leave, perhaps in 2011, then why not? There's no rush for him to get back into F1.

On a side note, I have no idea what Red Bull are going to do if they fail to win a title this season. It'd almost be cheaper for them just to bribe the other teams out of the way next year.

And I'm loving this year's drivers championship. I have to say though, I don't think it's a close points battle because all the drivers have been superb, I think it's the other way round. If any one of the 5 had driven a faultless season then they would be well ahead by now. Lucky for us that they've all had a scrappy season with at least a couple of howlers each.

I'm feeling the tension of the last few races. The stress at the starts alone might kill me lol



The sport misses Kimi and I would love to see him fighting at the front again.

Admittedly he did have off days but when the wind was behind he was certainly the man to catch.

And he managed to squeeze a win out of that dog Ferrari.



I've heard some rumours that Mark might be going to Ferrari next season, and that would open up a slot at Redbull.

Felipe seems to be under a lot of pressure and I honestly dont see him being there at the start of the season.

Have you heard any rumblings in the paddock?


If I were a driver I'd fire a manager who would have not talked to all the players (teams) that are part of this driving circus. How the heck could he tell the driver what's going on if he doesn't talk to people.

Asking "what's up Renault" is not the same as willingness to make a deal or even start of serious negotiations like Mr. B has hinted all the time. And now Mr. B is accusing the media that he has only answered their questions.

Well all the other F1 professional have in the same time shut up about the same kind of contacts - that's the standard practise - so I bet there must be bunch of F1 -professionals smirking at their pits about how Kimi put the end of Mr. B's milking. Singapore with Alosno and this makes me think Renault is a dishonest car.


Im not sure its all that "odd" that Boullier made the statements he did, he obviously doesnt know what hes doing and surely Renault is not happy with further bad publicity.

Hes obviously enjoying playing Mr Big Shot...but to insinuate Kimi was one of Renault's options, then to talk negatively about his motivation... he needs to keep his trap shut. He hasnt been around long enough to make such comments nor prove he can survive the shark infested F1 waters. Time will tell...but hes not off to a great start. Perhaps he should review PR 101.


Kimi is obviously still interested enough in F1 to respond to Renault's BS. I dont know why - his bank account has to be pretty full, so I doubt money is a motivator - so maybe its pride, or maybe he just misses the limelight? Just because he's practically unable to speak at all in public doesn't mean he doesn't enjoy being the center of attention.

But if thats the case I can't see him *ever going to a low-ranking team.


Give it up People. Kimi is not coming back to F1. He is done!!! It's all about Rally, although I am dumbfounded why he would want to be in a sport where he is so dependent on a co-driver. Does not sound much like the "Kimster'


Kimi is probably the most private guy I have seen in F1 and without doubt the least interested in the media. It was obvious Renault was only in it for PR when they kept bringing his name up. No repitable F1 team negotiates with drivers in public let alone someone like Kimi. This team will keep getting worse and worse.

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