F1 Winter Break
What next for Petrov after rant at Renault?
Posted By: James Allen  |  18 Nov 2011   |  10:02 am GMT  |  168 comments

Russia’s first F1 driver Vitaly Petrov has unleashed a broadside against his team, Renault, accusing them of a lack of development, poor race strategy and sloppy pit work. It throws doubt over whether he will continue with the team in 2012.

The 27 year old, who has started 37 races with the team, stood on the podium at the first race in Australia and feels that it’s been a downward slide into midfield mediocrity ever since.

Renault came out with an highly imaginative front facing exhaust this season, which exited at the front of the sidepods. Although it looked quick in the early races, it didn’t work out as hoped and the development direction since then has not taken the team forwards up the grid.

That said, since Germany Petrov has qualified and raced in the top ten five times out of nine races. However he has only added five points to his tally during that time and some of the strategy plans have been curious.

“We have lost positions in about 10 races or even more,” said a frustrated Petrov in an interview hours after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Russian TV. “Even without a fast car we could have gained good points, we could have finished with points if we had had a good strategy.

“But I couldn’t say in interviews that we lost it with the pitstops, and I cannot talk about that now either. But I can’t keep silent any more – it is over. I can’t keep everything inside any more.”

Renault started trialling a rear facing exhaust in Germany but as the car had been designed around the front facing exhaust concept and the rear body area was too wide to optimise the rear facing exhausts, it required a lot of work to redo the back of the car and sidepods during the summer break.

There have been plenty of new wings, including a new Red Bull-style flexi front wing in Abu Dhabi last weekend, but the underlying pace of the car has gone, compared to the early races, as Force India and Toro Rosso in particular have improved. Having started the season ahead of Mercedes, they’ve been passed as Mercedes has moved ahead into its own space ahead of the midfield, but behind the top three teams, where Renault was aiming to be.

“When the windtunnel developments came, the new parts, because of the front exhausts, they didn’t work,” complained Petrov. “We worked on the front wing, the rear wing, the diffusers, the floor – but whatever we changed it was useless.

“For about 10 races we didn’t have anything, so in fact we have had the same car with which we started the season.”

So where does this leave Petrov? Would he have said these things if he was certain to be racing next season with the team? It has been looking increasingly likely that Romain Grosjean would take up one of the seats next year and with Petrov struggling to lead the team in the absence of Robert Kubica, there have been suggestions lately that the team needs to take a new direction on drivers. Although Petrov has a contract for 2012, he doesn’t sound like a driver who’s expecting to be sitting in the car next year.

“Unfortunately I cannot say anything bad about the team, it says so in my contract,” said Petrov, who observed that if a world champion like Kimi Raikkonen can be moved aside with a pay-off then what chance does he have?

Renault team boss Eric Boullier is a very tough character who will not take kindly to this outburst. He and the Genii management at Renault know that 2011 has not been good enough. The team has 72 points, which is only 11% of the Red Bull total using the same engine.

Last season they ended with 163 points – 32% of Red Bull’s total. They are still fifth in the championship, however.

Petrov’s place in the team was always linked to the Genii plan of expanding its business in Russia. But there hasn’t been the flow of Russian companies into the team that they might have expected, Lada (which was a tie in with Renault) and a vodka company are the only obvious partners.

Our colleagues at F1news.ru have sent me this update this morning.

They spoke to Petrov’s manager Oksana Kossatchenko, who said, “Vitaly happened to be not ready to work in such an emotional situation, and in order to avoid such things in the future, probably, his contacts with media immediately after the sessions would be limited. Vitaly needs time to think over everything that happened during the race before contacting journalists.

“As a result I have to apologize to Russian journalists that have been waiting to meet Vitaly after the end of the season. I am sorry to say but the press-conference for Russian media scheduled for December would be cancelled.

“Vitaly’s management considers the interview as absolutely not prepared, too emotional, and to guarantee that nothing like that happens in the future we have to work with Vitaly to prepare him for that kind of interviews.

“And one important thing more: some days ago we had a discussion with the team how to build the communication policy in general. And we agreed to keep everything inside the team because of ethical reasons.

“We spoke about it with Eric Boullier and Gerard Lopez, but immediately after the compromise had been reached, the balance was destroyed by the driver”.

Petrov has apologised to the team and Boullier has said he considers the matter closed.

If you can read Russian here is a link to the F1news.ru story

What driver rants do you most clearly remember? Like Rubens Barrichello’s rant against Brawn in Germany 2009 “They made me lose the race” – Post your favourites below together with the outcome – Did the driver stay or go after his outburst?

Featured News
Editor's Picks
Share This:
Posted by:

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry, you must be logged in to post a comment.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

Alain Prost criticizing Ferrari in 1991 and getting sacked after wards.


I thought of that too when I saw Autosport.

And Renault have broken a contract recently (heidfeld) so I don't think its inexplicable that they would get rid of someone WITH a reason in the contract.

For me there is something more important than the rant here... WHY?

Surely something must has got Petrov anoyed? I'm guessing the team is having talks behind closed doors that we don't know about.

2 situations

1) Kubica broke himself, they brought in Heidfeld after testing him and Senna and said 'we wont a team leader'. They later sacked Heidfeld after having more points because he wasn't showing leadership.

What if they have told Petrov that he isn't showing leadership and they want Grojean who is inexperienced and so they're talking to other experienced drivers (sutil and barichello). Quite possible - the team has made above statements previously and the team probably has to notify Petrov by a certain date in order to give him time to change or Renault could get a bigger contract penalty.

2) PEtrov brings Russian omney but Genii get more out of Brazillian companies because of their business prospects (as detailed earlier this year in the media, several business deals). They are talking to Senna and doing a Senna and Grojean. Petrov is anoyed.


A very good point. It does look like they are talking to someone behind closed doors. Kimi is in open discussions with Williams with the only sticking point being he wants a stake in the team. I know he has fallen out with Reneault before because of the media circus when they were talking to him but they need a leader and are also desperate for money. He will bring a shed load of sponsors with him and is very simple in the way he does things the same as Kubica. Turns up. Drvies fast, says whats wrong with the car then drives faster and then goe's home. No polotics and no messing. It's just a thought. Barichello is very much in the twilight of his career and would be a step backwards and didn't Sutil glass the owner?


Sutil won't be going there.

Remember, he bottled the team owner.


haha quality point


Haha, maybe the ultimate payback to Sutil would be to ruin his career like only renault know how to! Eric, smart thinking old chap...


Does Piquet Jr. top Prost? 🙂

And the recent driver's meeting footage from Senna with Senna loosing it surely should be on the list somewhere. That was worth the price of admission.

I like it when drivers loose their cool and let emotions take over. Shows they are human, and it's not some emotionless robots we're watching do battle.


Goneski!! 🙂


Prost at Ferrari?

He was moved on pretty swiftly after that!!


My understanding is that he was fired by Ferrari, but he took them to binding arbitration over his dismissal and won a large sum of money, although it involved him sitting out the 1992 season in order to collect it.


I suppose the question is whether he already knows he is likely to be replaced, or whether he was stupid enough to make these comments while his seat was perfectly secure. Now, it seems, he is in breach of contract by his own admission, so it might not cost Renault too much to get rid of him - apart from the loss of sponsorship money.

Having said that, I'm not sure Renault are going to find a better replacement for Petrov if they have two seats to fill. I fancy Grosjean's chances to beat Petrov, but not for instance Bruno Senna's. It would be nice, though, if Renault would take up whichever driver Force India decides not to sign.


You're right. I think he knows his money is good. Not like Renault can say no to what he reportedly pays.


Well Rubens' "blah blah blah blah blah" was pretty memorable as was Lewis' "is it because I am black" but for me the best was Kimi's unspoken ice cream and can of Coke in the back of the garage! Spoke volumes without saying a word (as only he could!)


+1 on Kimi. Funnier still was the shock and awe that came afterwards... what a pretentious business F1 can be.


Didn't he also retire from a Monaco Grand Prix and, instead of heading back to the pits, was spotted by the TV cameras on a yacht?


That wasn't a rant – that was a work of art!

Carlos E. Del Valle

First thing that came to my mind was: "he did a Barrichello". BAR is a nice chap, but is the prototype of mindless quote generator, back from his Ferrari days. Just after he joined Maranello he gave a post-race interview in which he mentioned that "his grandma" could do this or that with that car. Wisely, he was forbidden to give any interview straight out of the car.


To be honest, i dont think anybody cares much what Rubens says anymore. He has a habit of throwing his team under the bus when things dont go his way and then start playing the victim.

What about Alonso's infamous " I'd like to see Kimi win than Lewis" comment in 2007 when he was at Mclaren?


Was that at the race after Ron Dennis said about Hamilton on worn tyres sliding off into the pitlane gravel, "We were racing Alonso"

Summed up Ron and his "equality" perfectly!


that was in 2008. He was driving for renault. He sure thought about it in 2007, but he didn't say it in the media.


It was in Brazil 2007, Kimi wasn't fighting for the championship in 2008.

Alonso said, and I paraphrase, "I'd rather Kimi won the championship than Lewis if I am not in a position to win myself."


Kimi was out of the race due to KERS issues and the race was halted until the rain cleared (which it never did - and the race declaired complete)... never understood why people thought Kimi was taking the piss - he was out of the race, no idea what people explected Kimi to be doing?


There is no doubt that there is some truth in what he says. The issue is, you have to be in a position of power if you are going to publicly rant at your bosses.

Petrov's own performances have been pretty mediocre and in my opinion, he's not earn't the right to give the team a public 'kicking'.

Unless he is responsible for huge financing of the team, I'd be surprised if he drives for them next year.


Well the most obvious one is Prost, which lead to his leaving Ferrari for the last race of the season...


may be a well thought plan to get fired, still gett paid the full salary in 1992, and work out the deal to drive the best car, a williams and keep senna from driving in the same car. Maquiavello.


James, I don't think Renault can really afford to throw Petrov to the wolves. Sure, he bad-mouthed them, but it's pretty obvious from his comments that he's been sitting on this for a while, and I think his criticisms were a last resort rather than a first strike. No doubt he has raised these concerns within the halls of Enstone, but they have fallen on deaf ears - though whether that is because the team do not want to hear it or because they feel Petrov's concerns are misplaced remains to be seen.

Reading comments from him over the course of the season, he is one of the first to admit culpability when something goes wrong (as opposed to the Nelson Piquet Jnr.s school of thought of blaming everyone else), and he's clearly gone to lengths to improve on his 2010 performances. On the other hand, the team has not been particularly supportive of any of their drivers.

I think everyone will be watching Renault very carefully for the next week, because if they terminate Petrov's contract over this, it's really going to hurt their reputation. Petrov has made it known that the team don't listen to him, and that speaking out against them is forbidden by contract. Any driver drafted in to replace him is going to know exactly what they're getting themselves into, and while a race seat is a race seat, I think some drivers will be very unnerved about the idea of working in an oppressive environment. And if they aren't, then their sponsors almost certainly will certainly be apprehesive. If Eric Boullier wants to save face, I don't think he has any choice but to keep Vitaly Petrov.


Does the Lotus-Renault team (pardon me if that isn't this week's name) have much of a reputation to be damaged?

Vitaly has a point, in fact, several points. If you were bringing some millions of dollars to a team with the hope that they would deliver a decent racing effort and they fell short of reasonable expectations, I think you might well wonder if the money was being well spent.

Of course, in our sophisticated Western way, we know that shouting at your team in public isn't the best way forward, but Vitaly, like all racing drivers, no doubt thinks that all he needs is a decent car to get right up there - and who's to say he couldn't? He hasn't done too badly when the car worked. No wonder he's frustrated, watching the years tick away while he's apparently going backwards.


"Of course, in our sophisticated Western way, we know that shouting at your team in public isn’t the best way forward"

A lot of my frineds are Russian, and if there is one thing I have learned about them, it is that they guard their emotions very carefully. Russians seem very cold when you first meet them, but that's because they think Westerners are too quick to smile, and thus are insincere (and it doesn't help that they seem to have an almost-endemic lack of emotion when speaking English). They tend not to express particular emotions until they are comfortable with it. And I think all of this is a cultural thing. So, if what I have learned from my friends is something that can be said of all (or most) Russians, then I think Vitaly Petrov has his outburst because his emotions overwhelmed him. He'd been sitting on them for a while and couldn't express them, so he had to say something.

He's since apologised, and while a lot of people think he's only doing it to save his seat for 2012, the other thing I have learned about Russians is this: they value sincerity. They won't say something without meaning it, and they expect the same of you. In fact, they'd probably prefer an apology to go unsaid rather than giving an insincere one.


As you British would say, "that's not condescending at all mate"! And for the record, my girlfriend is Russian.


Also - I forgot to add - a lot of Petrov's criticisms are not without merit. Anyone who has followed the team's fortunes this year can see that the man has a point: Renault have apparently been treading water since about Valencia.


I have to agree with all of that. Petrov sounds more like a top that finally popped (with merit) than somebody like Boobens who runs his mouth when things don't go his way. Petrov is easily the most improved driver on the grid this year.


1. "F1 is not a sport anymore" - Fernando Alonso

2. "Fernando is faster than you, can you confirm you understood the message?!" - Rob Smedley

3. "Daddy, look what Michael did to my bicycle!" - Fernando Alonso

4. "Are you one of the ridiculously good looking drivers of Toro Rosso? Are you a hot bird accompanied by one of the ridiculously good looking Toro Rosso drivers? If not, then this bathroom is NOT for you" - note from Scott Speed in a bathroom reserved for drivers

5.“At the beginning I had a better car, in the middle of the season he had a better car with more mechanical problems than me, so I won the drivers championship a little bit before the end.” - Fernando Alonso

6. “If it's raining like that on Sunday it would be too wet.” - Jenson Button

7. “You do not need to be very prophetic to say the Championship is over.” - Michael Schumacher

8. “The only thing I have to say is that it was a pretty strong move and next time I will have him off the track,” - Ralf Schumacher


Very wrong of you to mention Scott Speed and not mention the "Boner" incident.


you can do it...


You've got issues man, 2006 was 5 years ago


Portuguese autosport reports: Barichello and Grosjean

... but even Barichello said similar things about Williams this year... so dunno if he would be a good choice. Heidfeld and Grosjean would be better... or Sutil and Grosjean... if the glass throwing episode can be forgiven.. dont see that happening.


WHAT? DMV, Heidfeld and Grosjean, are you serious. What do you suggest that Renault do, Hire him on a race b race contract, just incase they want to fire him a second time they won't have to do the whole court thing with Heidfeld beating his tincan and making noise n the Pitlane, For a second time.


Well, maybe this explains why both Rubens and Sutil have both been confident of drives for next season...


Certainly sounds like he is expecting not to have a seat at Renault. I can understand the frustration although it won't have helped his exit negotiations!

Given the rumours linking Kubica to Ferrari, do you think Kubica is also unimpressed with Renault this year and is thinking beyond Renault as a result?


I thought this about Kubica. Renault (or Lotus) will probably go backwards.



GUARANTEED they are going backwards.

Williams will likely smack out of the slump.

Toro Rosso will get some help.

Next thing you know, they see the medical car in the rear view at each start.

I think Petrov is being cocky because Marussia is always an option for him to stay on the grid. He doesn't have to put up with these Genii guys. They need his money. There is no smoke without fire, and you've heard about "Renault" financial challanges here and there last 2 years.


“Unfortunately I cannot say anything bad about the team, it says so in my contract,”


I see, so all this P.R. talk we get to hear from drivers is a result of their contract. Darn, it's a dark place the world finds it's self in the 21st century.

Full marks to Petrov for speaking his mind, you can't help but have a soft spot for a driver that's passionate about his racing.

Okay, seeing as we haven't got any Russian team, I say Petrov will stay put at Renault for lets remember, Petrov is the only Russian on the grid & with the Russian G.P. coming up, you can bet your last penny, the Kremlin will make sure the flag bearer is on the grid representing the country.

Even though Kubica returns, it will be Senna & Grosjean to make way and not the other way round.

Hmm... my favourite driver rant has to be Alonso in Hungary 2007,

''You either put Hamilton on a leash & make me the clear number one driver or else, am going to hand over certain embarrassing documents''

And no, Alonso didn't remain with the team & thus missed a chance to win his 3rd & last WDC in 2008.


Takes a brave man to say Fernando has won his last championship. Or a foolish one.


No Russian Team? And Marussia is from where?


”You either put Hamilton on a leash & make me the clear number one driver or else, am going to hand over certain embarrassing documents”

That quote is fake.

A lot happened behind close door at McLaren in 2007. Some say Alonso blackmailed the team, others say McLaren sabotaged Alonso's car by playing with tire pressure. At the end, they lost everything.

I think it will take a long time before we know what really happened in 2007.


whoever writes a decent book on that story will make some bucks


Tongue in cheek, that 'quote', I think!


On 2007: It is hard to say who lost more, Alonso or McLaren. Alonso is still there while even being the owner, Dennis had to get out of the spotlight to at least save some of the teams prestige (as he has ruined all of his). That decision actually cost McLaren not only the title but Mercedes pulling out of the partnership, not willing to invest for Ferrari to take a victory which was certain until the team management's lack of judgement. Add spygate, which is more of the same lack of judgement. McLaren turned into a joke of a team....


And this is why I never used to comment on these posts... Dennis left to diversify The mcLaren group's other commercial concerns. McLaren did lose a lot, less 100mil, less Championship Cash, probably had to take a beating on some sponsorship as well. Probably didnt help the Mercedes Divorce. But look at Alonso, 2 years in an uncompetitive Renault, Alonso is Brilliant, he's been outdriving all the cars that he's had since 2008. MAybe he shouldnt have been such a bully at McLaren, and maybe could have enjoyed a competitive 2008, infact i think 2008 would have been mighty. Remember Lewis went all out racing in 2008, Felipe had a strategy thats become all too similar nowadays, Felipe targets pole at ferrari circuits (hopefully good hot track temps on saturday and sunday, that way he and the F2008 dont have to actually heat up the tyres)and then run away from there, If qualify lower than front row and not ahead by first corner then race into oblivion. (ala. Vettel)

Face it, SpyGate cost McLaren dearly, Possibly cost Alonso a championship in 2008, and who knows how much needed development input he could have had in 2009, Maybe McLaren wouldnt have had to wait until hungary.

But we also lost out as the Fans. The Possibility of an electric 2008. Coupled with Alonso's ability to maximise and McLarens amazing depth in Engineering expertise and I think that partnership could have been special. Let's Face it RedBull need to wrap Newey up in bubble wrap, Ferrari are missing that something special. Spygate cost us all something.


STupid team... I would have thought they would have their own in-house copyshop, but no, they have to have an Engineers wife run down to the local one. I bet you they have their own photocopier now.


I second that.


I thought Renault's public criticism then firing of Nick Heidfeld earlier in the season was poorly carried out.


Just an opinion: Sacking Heidfield certainly hasn't helped the Renault performance and now maybe we have a glimpse into why - Renault doesn't want to believe what their drivers are telling them if Petrov is right. He may have survived thus far only because of the bankroll and other outside influence as referenced above. Guess it has been easier to talk 'tough' guy stuff and blame the drivers than provide good management/engineering for everyone's benefit, eh??? That string may only be so long - how many times can your cry wolf?


Be nice one of these days to get Nick's view on all this. James - any chance of a chat ?


Very much agree! This is one of several reasons I have grown to like this team the least.


He's got a point, the team have been rubbish the last few months and the 2 podiums seem a long time ago. Getting rid of heidfield was a mistake as Senna is no better, if not worse, and most of the blame can be presented at the,lack of updates on the car.

Plus I can't stand bouiller and think he is a border line bully to people/drivers in the team.



Firing Heidfeld clearly turned out to be the tipping point on the bad slide of Renault this season. But it is unfair to say that Senna has underperformed.

Frankly, I think he should be commended as one of the drivers of the season, especially as we now know how the car is performing.


Andrew C.


Petrov hasn't done himself any favours.

Renault were daft to get rid of Heidfeld, who I thought was doing a good job.

In fact Heidfeld is still only 2 points behind Petrov, despite not being in a car for half the season.



When the opportunity came to get some Brazilian money (hopefully to contribute to next year's car) without really jeopardising their 2011 constructors-position, sacking Nick was the only decision Renault could make.

There is no denying that Heidfeld would have performed better than Senna has, but I don't think he'd have done significantly more than Petrov (a 9th here, 11th there...).

Overall I'd say Petrov and Heidfeld were pretty even. At the point Heidfeld left he was just a few points ahead (2 points IIRC). Heidfeld had more points-finishes but also more retirements while Petrov had a fifth at some point. They were both scoring less and less points after Canada and that trend has simply continued because the rest of the midfield caught up with the underdeveloped Renault.

Comparing the two, Nick is not getting any faster while Petrov might still improve somewhat. Given that their results up to Hungary are pretty much equal and Petrov brings financial advantage (both in terms of cash and Russian business interest), there really was only one way this was going to go.


It's interesting that Renault did not progress once they dumped Heidfeld.


Renault were not progressing before they dumped him either. They've been losing ground since the start of the European leg when the first development-packages for all teams appeared.

In fairness to their drivers and whatever technical staff they have left, this was at least in some part due to the front-facing exhaust being a technical dead end.

This season, a few drivers who have in the past claimed to have great technical acumen have come up completely empty-handed. Heidfeld and Barrichello are the main culprits in that regard so I'm glad they are now making space for young talent to come into the sport.


I've said it before and been proved right - every one of these teams that goes racing with racing as a secondary to their motivation fails in F1.

'F1 will be our spring board into new markets, and business ops blah blah blah' Not if you don't invest and win first.

Almost every team has commercial goals behind the scenes but the ones that stand out put winning first, doing business off this second.

Petrov should be saying how lucky he's been to manage to buy a regular points scoring drive. I doubt this team as it stands, Virgin (or what ever its going to be soon) and HRT will make it to the end of next season.


As you say James, not the actions of a man who has a Renault drive next season...

Renault need some experience and leadership in that car. Petrov (nor Senna for that matter) doesn't have the qualities to help the team progress in that department. Someone like Timo Glock, alongside Romain Grosjean, would provide just that. That would open up a vacancy at Marussia for a Russian, alongside Charles Pic. Bernie would like that too, with a Russian GP on the horizon. All fits rather nicely!


Or perhaps the actions of a man who knows he has a Renault drive next year ...


James you have been notably silent about Senna's chances...


I honestly feel like one of the very few who would very much like to see him get a bit more time in the car. He's had less than half a season in what is obviously a poorly performing car. Also, if anyone's paid close enough attention, LRGP's race strategies have been absolutely awful, for the most part, which doesn't help either.


Didn't Alonso have an outburst against Renault in one of his championship seasons? I think it was because they didn't ask Fisichella to move over. Didn't he go and sign with McLaren at the end of that season? Please correct me if I'm wrong...


It was always his boyhood dream to race for McLaren though


Considering that Eric Boullier has been not so subtly suggesting for months now that Petrov, Heidfeld, and now Senna have not been getting the maximum out of the car, should we really be surprised that one of their drivers has finally spoken out?

The management within the team has never got over "What could Kubica do?" syndrome, which was only intensified with the two podium finishes. If three reasonably good drivers have not been able to consistently deliver good results, perhaps the team should concede that the car is just not that good and that something is wrong with their development program.


“What could Kubica do?”

Check out the seasons he raced beside Heidfeld at BMW/Sauber. They scored pretty evenly.


I agree with this statement. The team has consistantly talked about Kubica this and Kubica that. They have basically pointed fingers at the drivers, going as far as sacking Heidfeld. I can't fault Petrov for finally popping.


THe last Driver I remember was ...... NICK HEIDFELD, HE even took his Rant to court. And I tink we all know where he ended up. F1 is so volatile, Petrov knows that he is out. But u know what I beleve Renault have problems BIG problems. Very few youngsters jump in and truly grab the bull by the Horns (ALONSO-KiMi-Schumi)and its tougher these days too with Aero being so complex. I think that even Hamilton is lacking in his abilty to push a Teams development. But here come GeNII and give the car to two youngsters, a car with a complex concept to develop. Come on, yes F1 is an unforgiving environment but the truly great recognise where their faults lie. Genii need a Kubica, and they clearly have the Brains in the Engineering department too (I really respected the R30 F-Duct). Again Next year they potentially start with two more youngsters, assuming Grosjean and Senna, I think Renault need Barrichello more than Williams need Spring Cleaning, and i'm no Barrichello fan, but the Brazilian should focus his attentions on Lopez and not Frank.


I feel like if we, fans and spectators, can see so clearly what is going on at Renault, most drivers are pretty aware of it. If it looks to us like boullier is difficult to work with, I would bet Rubens is not so desperate as to want to suffer through his 20th season just to have every problem hung around his neck and then get unceremoniously dropped for some new kid mid season because he couldnt develope the tempermental problem child the factory cooked up. Just my opinion. Make it 19 and steer clear of Enstone Rubens!


I always remember 1995 when Nigel Mansell signed for McLaren but had to miss races because he did not fit in to the car and then eventually did a couple of races muttering about an undriveable car, not wanting to make up the number etc etc. Would love to have been a fly on the wall when Ron and Nigel had a "chat".

Feel a bit sorry for Petrov, Nick Heidfeld was signed as he was considered fast after Kubicas accident but Petrov kept outperforming him.

I think after the Brawn 2009 season when they stole a march on the opposition with the double diffuser, teams like Renault have tried to be too clever by half, eg exhaust system to beat the higher teams. Good if it works, terrible if it does not and sometimes it is easier for the team to blame the driver rather than the management who gave the authorisation to give it a go.

Obvioulsy a team in turmoil.


I can't for the life of me remember who exactly it was that described their Ferrari as a "sh*tbox", but I do remember they weren't retained for the following season...


That was Gilles Villeneuve in 1980 describing the 312T5 as a ****box.

Enzo Ferrari loved his spirit because he knew Gilles would drive it flatout anyway.

In 1981, Villeneuve won 2 amazing races in the 126CK, the 1st turbo charged Ferrari, around Monaco and Jarama.

So no wasn't sacked.


With the news that Snoras bank has been placed into administration. Things don't look to good all round at Renault / Lotus.

I guess they will need the Lotus money more than ever now.

A Malaysian pay driver ???


Didn't Prost compare the Ferrari to a truck towards the end of 1991? And he was sacked before the end of the season as I recall.

Sounds like Petrov is out for 2012.


Not exactly a rant, but I do remember when Schu retired they had a little celebration. When the reporter (Martin Brundle?) asked Kini his thoughts on the occasion he replied something like "I do not know, I was not there, I was doing a sh*t".


Was in Brazil 2006. How ironic that an hour after that infamous comment by Kimi, an aging,retiring Michael pulled a "move of the season" on Kimi half an inch from the barriers!


Right players and words but wrong situation - Brundle was doing the gridwalk, asks Kimi where he had been. Kimi replies having a sh*t. Brundle quick as a flash responds: "Well your car should be a bit lighter then" Priceless!


It was when Pele was giving an award....


Kimi kept his cool even though he was asked to move aside with a pay-off & never bad mouth or rant about Ferrari. That's a class act, I doubt any other F1 driver can cope better than Kimi in the same situation.

James, what's this rumour about Kimi going to Renault instead of Williams??


In fairness, Ferrari paid Kimi a lot of money to move aside. I'm not so sure Kimi would have been so quiet otherwise.

That said, Kimi has always been one of those guys that will usually choose to say less rather than blab on.


Do you really think that was a class act?! I just thought that Kimi got his mouth stuffed with money + his own natural apathy...


Not a rant as such But Hamilton visiting the RBR motorhome in Montreal was a 'misjudgement' as Whitmarsh commented at the time. This to me is one of the least thought through and potentially painfull, for all involved, protests a driver has made agianst their own team in recent memory.

What must the average guys back at the factory have thought, let alone team sponsors and principals. Totally irresponsible and more than a little petulant.


It will be interesting to see how Boullier deals with this, I doubt with as much calm as Ross did with Rubens,he smiled and indicated that a small child had just thrown a tantrum but it was ok because daddy understood.


Last i heard, Eric has to hold his hand all the time because Petrov cant do anything fro himself. Im sure Eric will be happy to see the back of him.


@grandprixdiary remarked on Twitter "Bet @MarussiaVirgin are kicking themselves. The week they sign Charles Vic a Russian driver with LOADS of money suddenly becomes available"

Think he could be right.


But Charles Pic comes with lots of money too. See http://joesaward.wordpress.com/2011/11/01/pic-and-marussia-virgin/


Renault (sorry, "Lotus") are fast turning into a joke. They remind me a little of the late 1980s incarnation of Brabham at the minute. I wonder if a Petrov-Glock swap might be on the cards - doesn't Glock have exit clauses in his Marussia contract if a bigger team offers him a drive? And Petrov would, of course, be perfect for Marussia.


Boullier appears to be incompetent of running a successful) F1 team. Since he fired Heidfeld, all developments went the wrong way. Heidfeld might not have been the very fastst of drivers, but he is a competent car developer and a driver that is as steady as it gets - a Coulthard, a Webber, a Barichello, although he never sat in a winning car. He didn't race since Spa inclusive and still ranks 10th. There is neither a vision, neither a strategy nor stability in the team and Petrov's comment demosntrates that. The earlier Boullier gets the boot, the better it is. But as it seems Genii is also well out of its depth in F1 - by all counts.


Well, not quite an outburst but Hamilton's Australia radio conversation this year could be classified as "aggressive" for that matter.

He was very critical about the team strategy which forced him pitting twice while other top guys pitted only once.

In his defence, he was very fast at that point catching Kubica, who eventually finished the race in runner-up to Button.


When he says "it's over", it sounds suspiciously like he's been told he's not racing there in 2012. It's nice to see drivers saying a bit what they think. It's not like he's said anything spectacular. He's right that the development was bad.


Jean Alesi who called Ferrari "truck"? He didn't know Ford would complain about F150 though...


Prost, sure, it was Prost; shame on me.


Hi James,

Any chance of an ironically all French line-up of Grosjean and Vergne at Lotus in 2012?

Given Vergne just tested very convincingly for a Renault team (Red Bull) in the YDT, could they be compelled to put him into a Renault powered car in Lotus, rather than the Ferrari powered Toro Rosso?

Petrov wouldn't have made his comments if he felt secure in his position, so he surely knows something we don't.

The other option is unlikely, but is it possible that Barrichello could find his way into a seat, with Grosjean under his wing?

Keep up the blogging, great work, great insights!



JEV would make a lot of sense (as a talented pay driver funded by RB), but would require an experienced team leader in the other seat.

Not sure if it may be too late for such complex changes, but all options must be on the table.


How about Alain Prost saying Ferrari was too political in 1991 before taking a sabbatical in 1992, then coming back to take Mansell's Wiliams to the championship in 1993?


Hated Prost anyway, and for me that comment was proverbial Pot calling Kettle black!!


Renault is going backwards next year. Surely you can't be a serious Renault fan knowing this team is not the Remault of 2006 or before by any means.

Petrov is a pay driver, but is telling it like it is. You don't see outrage when Lewis or Button says his team strategy cost them.


I would have to say Prost just before leaving Ferrari. I think the same will happen to Petrov. He will be replaced with a young-gun for the last race and the team will same that it is a "Test" or "Chance" to run a new driver. LOL


Why shouldn't he be allowed to say what he thinks honestly, after all there is plenty of media discussion of it and he is taking plenty of flak himself.

He wasn't exactly lambasting the team but surely has a right to defend himself and point out where the team has gone wrong rather than just allow himself to take the bulk of the blame and deliver some bland media babble about this being a difficult time and all working together which no-one believes and makes F1 itself and the drivers appear utterly bland.

Knocking drivers for not speaking their mind, then knocking them for speaking it - they can't win. The bottom line is that if what he says is true no way should he be sacked - F1 teams should "man up" and brush this stuff off rather than crying about it - the truth is that most fans probably found this a lot more entertaining than some staged press love-in with David Cameron... As Rubens said, "I don't want to hear any blah blah from the team."

Alastair Archbold



I remember Eddie Irvine calling his Ferrari 'brick-slow' once.

Also, it was no rant but I was amused when Heinz Harald Frentzen, on his 2nd race for Prost having been sacked by Jordan and being asked how he felt qualifying 4th when the Jordans were so far back, responded along the lines that his eyesight was not good enough to see that far back along the grid. It would have been a great and gently witty put down had the tv pictures not shown him not 10 minutes later waving his arms around having stalled on the grid (again)...


Petrov has already apologised:


From the sounds of things, he did it straight away, and in person, before the public apology.

I'd love to see the original interview, but my Russian wouldn't be nearly good enough to understand it.


Didn't Jochen Rindt once "rant" against the Cooper team by deliberately giving his engine 12,000 revs and blowing it (after its performance unacceptably began to sag) during practice at Watkins Glen in 1967?


Rindt also wrote an open letter to the MotorSport media while at Lotus critisising Colin Champman's wing design after both he & Graham Hill suffered the wing failure & big accidents at the Spanish Gp in 1969.

Rindt felt that Champman was refusing to listen to any critisism regarding his cars design flaws so decided to make his concerns public.


A Maserati V12 screaming at 12,000rpm - now that IS a rant!


A star of a sporting team, F1 or otherwise, should not be slamming his own team. There are way too many average hard working people behind him. But by the same token, Renault management cannot mismanage development like that an then hint to the press that it's the drivers that are underperforming. For me, the blame lies with Renault management. It may have been Petrov who said the words but it was Renault management that painted him into a corner.


At this point, I can only conclude that Lotus Renault doesn't know how to do anything BUT mismanage just about everything. It's laughable.


I don't think that they have their eye on the right prize. Too busy looking at the profit margins and potential business deals to go racing 110% maybe? I'm not saying that Boulier isn't throwing everything he can at it, just that his approach is flawed.

Just look at Lotus/Caterham versus Virin/Marussia. Both began the same way at the same time but the results are vastly different. It's because Tony Fernandez has clearly thrown everything into his team and has a genuine passion to succeed (I think the courtcases with Renault have proven that), whereas Richard Branson looked for the cheapest way possible to be in F1 (like CFD designed cars) and seems to me more focued on using the team to promote the Virgin empire (without much success so far).

Sadly for us and the Lotus name, Boulier looks like he's more of a Branson than a Fernandez man.


Erik I have to agree, the Drivers, mechanics and support staff can only work with what the Design Engineers give them.


Undoubtedly Mansell's rant at Barcelona in 1995, where he derided the sub-optimal handling characteristics of his McLaren.


This is not so uncommon. Kubica complained 24/7 if I remember correctly in his BMW days. In fact many thought that was his downfall in getting to a top team in the end. BMW used to pull their hair out at his public outburst. So for Petrov to have one rant I don't think it should kill him. Plus he does bring money to this team that needs all the money he can get.


Remember that BMW stopped to develop their 2008 car to focus on next year's challeger (which proved to be an ultimate failure) while Kubica was the World Championship leader - so at this point he had all the reasons to complain.


It seems Petrov realized the harm caused by his interview and has apologised since to the team.

It remains to be seen what consequences this will have over his position at Renault for 2012.

Would be interesting to see what Boulier will say, but I am pretty sure it will all be fake smiles and happy faces..


Does Mr. Petrov see his checkered flag?

He would do well to remember the old Soviet adage, Who can tell what great knowledge waits within a silent man.

Or my favorite, the Russian axiom, "A temperate tongue is worth more than a blown-diffuser."

...so in the words of that great American sage, George Burns, "Say goodnight Vitaly..."


I know it is bad business for a team to have their driver saying stuff like Petrov said but it sure beats the PR friendly "this is one my favourite circuits for every track preview and the team did a wonderful job for every review"

I really like Petrov, he seems to be a very emotional character. Never seen anyone so happy to get a podium when he got it at Australia.

Now he forgets about the consequences, and just lets his feelings be known over the team which most outsiders had an idea about anyway. I wish there were more characters like him in F1 rather than the usual boring robotic clones.


I remember Eddie Ervine forgetting the positive PR team talk after the first winter test of one of the seasons he was with Jaguar and just coming out with "It's a bit slow"


Considering Petrov basically handed 2010 Champoinship to Vettel, maybe Red Bull should return the favour this time to give him a drive.


You actually demand a racing driver to just give up his place while he can easily keep his position for a good points result?

Vettel earned the title fair and square and fought hard for it while he had the least reliable car of the top 10.


Actually, in my opinion, one of the best drives of 2010 - anyone who can keep a charging Alonso behind them for so many laps, deserves all the credit they can. I do not think the poster, Qiang, even implies that Petrov should have let him past, just that as a result, Vettel won the WDC.


This is a team on the slide, and next year they're going to start fully disgracing the Lotus name. Oh joy.


The thing about Petrov is that he doesn't seem too media-saavy in the way a 'Western' driver would be, so I can imagine his management saying "sometimes its good to send a signal to the team" but he's taken it a bit too literally and delivered a rocket instead of a veiled comment. Clearly they realise he has spoken out of turn but we'll see where things go.

I think there is a difference between a driver speaking off the cuff immediately after the race - such as Rubens and his 'blah blah blah' - and speaking during an evidently scheduled interview.


Petrov's interview was also in the minutes after his race according to Renault and that is there main reason for him letting loose with the criticism.


James, what are the reasons for the slide of Lotus Renault this year? This team brought updates for nearly every race last year. Has this slowed due to the absence of RK's input or other financial problems?


To me it appears that the blown diffuser in front resulted in less opportunities to play with the air going around the bodywork. Meaning that if they changed the front wing, then all the changes to the air going underneath the car was interrupted with exhaust gases. Similarly, changes to the rear could not deliver as much change because they could work only with exhaust gases. As a result, the team underperformed on the aero front.


They didn't develop at same rate as their rivals, basically.


Hasn't Boullier admitted this in recent interviews?


Yup the forward exhaust was a development cul de sac (deadend).


I'm not blaming the design Engineers as well, its just that theres only space for one on the top step of the podium. Take RB7 it is currently the class of the field, it is also an evolution of RB5 but that chassis didnt win the championship, In 2009 I still maintain that Newey did the best Job overall, he just missed the bit allowing you to stack your Diffuser and as a result they didnt take the crown in 09. If BGP001 was superior then some of its DNA would still be evident on MGP W02 and down the rest of the Grid. I am by no means an Aerodynamicist but that Front Exhaust concept had my interests peaked, McLaren put it in the WindTunnel, even Newey himself had to have a peak, unfortunately the direction of development is sometimes infinite and its all too easy to go the wrong way. (I'll be shocked if we don't see a few Williams esque Gearbxes next year too). I think Renault didn't fully capitalise on potential and have been blaming their drivers for all of it, First Heidfeld now Petrov.


I find Petrov very hard to genuinely assess. Everytime he impresses me, he either returns to mediocrity or does something a little daft. I see evidence of speed but definite issues of inconsistency and a lack of overall direction. Whatever, he is absolutely no team leader at the moment, although I would really like to see him get his act fully together and stay in F1 a while longer.

I think Renault/Lotus have two basic areas of difficulty. Petrov has, rightly or wrongly in public, identified he first of these pretty much correctly.

The second is that Boullier sees himself as re-floating a team damaged latterly by previous poor management (Briatore) and has often implied such if not said it outright. Circumstances for which he was not responsible (Alonso's planned move to Ferrari and BMW's withdrawal) allowed the signing of Kubica, giving the team a young, hugely motivated, blindingly quick and very demanding driver able to guide technical direction as well as lap times. Frankly, the team did not deserve such a driver but for Boullier to expect his lesser signings to match Kubica's input is delusional; such drivers are very few in any generation.

Much better to work with a solid, preferably experienced, number one to sort the car while developing the team and a younger driver or drivers. To get a race winner would be a good result, a find World Champion exceptonal - and to retain either damn near impossible without the right car and managerial support.


Sure he may not be a driver there next year, but this is also a team that has been shedding, and leaking key staff. We can see it and Eddie Jordan asked the question, and the reply was fudge.

So why are key people leaving? The Car falling backwards on the grid. Could it be lack of funding, or with these key people leaving then leadership is missing a beat? A good lead driver is only one small part of the overall package of a successful team


And everything he said is the truth. Renault should swallow it.


Eddie Jordan telling Ron Dennis (over the air) that he should "burn" the 2009 car and start again.


Oh…My…God! He is so annoying and childish, so it’s not a surprise he said what he did.

I already commented (somewhere on this website) the old news when Renault signed him for 2 more years - and already then I said it was their stupidest decision… I can really hope they will now realize it and sack him for good BEFORE the next race (I mean of course the race in Brazil).


Given that Petrov has apologised to the team, and Boullier has accepted this and deemed the matter closed, I don't see much happening outside of what may already be in the pipeline anyway. That said, it's nice to see a driver have the guts to speak out when there are problems - it seems far too easy for teams to blame their drivers for underperforming, but not vice versa. The example of Alain Prost and Ferrari which has been cited here many times does spring to mind, among others.

On the subject of rants and outburts, I wasn't around at the time but I think Jean Behra's departure from Ferrari in 1959, after accusing them of giving him substandard equipment and then taking a punch at sporting director Romolo Tavoni, takes some topping...


I always thought Kubica went to Renault waiting for Ferrari to sack Massa and get his seat. There was even an article the other day mentioning that Ferrari might test Kubica next year before he gets to drive with Renault.

Back on subject I think this iteration of Renault is a joke, as is Boulier. They have the engineering power but the guys above don't have the brains to utilize it. They shouldn't have sacked Heidfeld who was doing alright, Senna is doing worse anyway, I'm surprised they're even 5th in the standings.


Jochen Rindt once wrote an open letter published by the media in which he harshly criticized wings for being dangerous (1970) and pleaded to forbid them. The letter was actually addressed to his boss Colin Chapman shortly after Rindt's heavy crash in Spain for running crazy wings. Chapman didn't fire him. Better than that: As Rindt refused to continue racing the new and unreliable Lotus 72, willing to run only the old Lotus 49, the team shipped only the Lotus 72 to the title deciding Monza race and let Rindt decide if he wanted to be a world champion or stay in the pits.... At least the team had removed the wing. What happened next is history.

Despite his manners I can only feel sympathy for someone like Petrov talking badly of his team. Don't forget that they put him in a F1 car where he found himself holding a steering wheel loose from the car!!!


Doesn't Renault's Eric Boullier look a bit like Tintín? Like he ate Tintín, I mean.


Anyone know why this has just come out now, a week after the interview was recorded?


After the Abu Dhabi race media already had enough to write about Hamilton rising from his ashes. So I guess that media simply prefer to keep it in order to have something to write in the build up the next GP and talk about in the paddock whereas it would have got little attention during the week or already be digested when the F1 circus got to Brazil.


I need to say that I do not like Eric Buldog...


James, on a completely unrelated note, NYTimes (through Reuters) reported at McLaren may be seeking an engine deal with Honda when their current contract with Mercedes ends. Can you substantiate this?


No, my enquiries in Japan today reveal a different picture. Will post on this over weekend


67 posts with replies and lots of BLAH, BLAH, BLAH...

I still use Reuben's quote around the office.


Interesting. It's true Renault's development hasn't worked out this season, but I also wondered if Petrov took his foot off the pedal a bit after Heidfeld left. I think he was disappointed not to be made the no1 after Kubica's accident and felt he had a point to prove (he intimated as much after his Australia podium); maybe once Heidfeld left there was an element of 'job done' and his performances dropped a bit (as well as Renault update problems).

We accuse our drivers of being automatons, but there's actually been a few in recent years. Lewis Hamilton in Monaco (or in China pre-race) in 2011, Rubens Barrichello in 2009...and what of Fernando Alonso at McLaren?? That time at the Chinese GP when he felt certain Lewis had better tyres during qualifying and ranted about 'lies' from Ron Dennis before taking the hinges off one of the doors in the team garage.


So what? Renault was truly awful this season At least he spoke his mind, I can't stand PR bullshit.


One should not have to apologize for saying the truth - and truth being that Renault have not been at the top of their game.


A pay driver in an a pay driver lineup, the team is going backward and he is part of the problem, no team that goes from 2 paid drivers to 2 pay drivers recovers.


rants? jochen rindt in his early days at lotus.


They should hire Barichello. Put two brazilians in their cars and they're bound to shave seconds off their lap times.


I think Petrov hit the nail on the head about Renault. Their development this year has been woeful and their team management has been appalling. Signing Heidfeld was a good idea: proven pace, always brings home points, experience. Yet I do not think they work hard with him and then used him as a scapegoat over their car's failing pace. Petrov who is the most improved driver since last year clearly sees a lack of development and a lack of love from the management. Renault gave up on this year and I really think Eric has shown his true colours and should be fired.


hello James,

speaking about Kubica. I hope he is on track for his recovery (and test drive)?

Kubica x Hulkenberg would be awesome.


They have really missed the leadership, the guidance and the direction of Robert Kubica. Their motivation to do well has dropped since his injury. They don't want to admit this, but we all know that this is the case.


Petrov topic is closed - Renault team boss Eric Boullier


Renault now set good decision. no doubt Petrov will drive 2012 Renault


He is out of there!


Juan Pablo Montoya swearing to the BMW Williams crew over the radio Magny-Cours 2003 because he thought they had given priority to Ralf Schumacher in the pit stops! Immediately after he signed for McLaren.

Should ask Sam Michael about that one when you see him next James.


Didn't Jenson say some pretty strong things during his championship year ? I remember one around the middle of the season when things were going wrong along the lines of "How have we made this car so bad ?"

And yes, he did leave at the end of the year, in the end. 🙂


He's done well keeping his mouth shut up until now. Bouillier is a liability.


Indeed - and Boullier is the guy Renault should consider replacing!


Hey James,

Rubens outburst after Germany 2009 were absolutely justified. Again, it was a curious strategy from Brawn which seemed more about what was good for Jenson than what was good for Rubens. Lucky for Mark though - he copped an unfair drive thru penalty and still managed to win the race.

Rubens outburst was a manifestation after what happened in Spain 2009. Where Brawn sabotaged Rubens' race. After that race, Rubens publicly did not berate his team. However privately he was seething. Rubens is smart enough to know when he has been screwed over. And naturally after he got screwed over again he was perfectly entitled to his outburst. Sure, it wasn't the smartest move by Rubens, but he was still livid from Spain 2009.

It is one thing to get screwed over by your team, but totally another for them to claim they are not screwing you. Difference between Ferrari, who screw over one team-mate BUT do openly acknowledge they do so VS a Red Bull or Brawn.


I think Petrov had got enough opportunity to prove himself but he failed...For be the best man for Renault 2012 is Romain Grosjean a talented driver who drove for Renault in 2009 along side Fernando Alonso and was just 4-5 tenths of Fernando considering he had not previous F1 experience and compared to Piquet Jr he was awesome...I would love to see him next yr in Formula 1...


There are plenty of drivers around who are capable of doing a better job in the Renault than Petrov. Drivers blaming the car/team is the age old excuse used when one realizes he is simply not up to the task, but cannot accept it themselves (ex. Prost in 1991 .. realized without a vastly superior car he could no longer match the likes of Senna and Mansell). Time for Petrov to go I'm afraid.


I get pleasure from, result in I found exactly what I used to be having a look for.

You've ended my 4 day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day. Bye

Top Tags
JA ON F1 In association with...
Multi award winning Formula One photographer
Multi award winning Formula One photographer

Sign up to receive the latest F1 News & Updates direct to your inbox

You have Successfully Subscribed!