Robert Kubica joins Renault for 2010 as doubts grow over Qadbak-Sauber entry

Posted on Author Keith Collantine

Robert Kubica tested for Renault in 2005 before signing for BMW
Robert Kubica tested for Renault in 2005 before signing for BMW

Robert Kubica has been confirmed as the replacement for Fernando Alonso at Renault for 2010.

The Polish driver is returning to the company that played a crucial role in his arrival in F1. He won the World Series by Renault championship in 2005.

Kubica always seemed likely to leave BMW after it emerged that he only learned of their plans to leave F1 next year when he read about it online. Now there are fresh doubts over the future of the team and questions are being asked about the kind of company

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh, who had dealings with Qadbak representative Russell King a few years ago, said: “I started being concerned for Sauber when I heard his name.”

Another obstacle to the ex-BMW team remaining in Formula 1 is lack of support for a 14th team, especially from – who else? – Williams.

Under the circumstances, it would probably be wise for Nick Heidfeld to find a berth elsewhere if he can.

Signing a high-profile driver like Kubice is a sign of Renault’s reaffirmed commitment to F1 in the wake of the Singapore crash scandal.

It’s a significant change for both parties. Kubica is breaking the bond with the team that brought him into F1, though more out of necessity than choice. Renault embraces a future without the Briatore-Symonds-Alonso team that won two world championships.

Kubica’s team mate has yet to be announced. Romain Grosjean has not impressed in his first five races for the team, but it’s important to stress his lack of experience and the limited amount of testing available to him.

He probably has a good chance of keeping his place next year, but with the driver market in a state of turmoil Renault may spy an opportunity to snap up a big name at a low price.

What do you think of Kubica’s move to Renault? Who should partner him next year? And what will be the next big announcement on the driver market? Have your say in the comments.

See the updated list of 2010 F1 drivers and teams

128 comments on “Robert Kubica joins Renault for 2010 as doubts grow over Qadbak-Sauber entry”

  1. To me Kubica is a great deal. If I was Renault boss I’d try to catch Rosberg, what a great duo…or why not Trulli?
    I think the biggest doubt is regarding Raikkonen: he is the biggest piece of the puzzle now: McLaren or Brawn GP?

    1. I think the biggest doubt is regarding Raikkonen: he is the biggest piece of the puzzle now: McLaren or Brawn GP?

      … Redbull alongside Vettel would be my dream…. reality = Mclaren!

          1. I didnt think of that…I had been reading that there were rumors of Kimi talking with red bull, but I didnt see how Webber could be dropped next year. Interesting.

          2. Yes but the contract is between Webber and Red Bull – Flavio or the management company only act as a third party to come to an agreement that is in the drivers best interest.

            The contract is signed, too late for Red Bull to get out of it unless they pay Webber out.

        1. Yes but it is clear that once again Mark Webber cannot cut it under pressure in F1. RBR should cut him loose and get someone who is a racer who can be counted on.

          1. Exactly. I swear Button started this recent trend when he bought his way out of his Williams contract.

            Seems nothing is set in stone if you have the cash to buy people out.

        1. Agree with PM it is just a rumour and I still don’t see Kimi wanting to be there, but what do I know.
          Also, when you have an ‘alright’ driver in Webber but ‘one of the best’ in Kimi, I think they would pay to get the best possible and go for a championship.

    1. Totally agree, a big budget team like Renault needs to get the best drivers available. Quick Nick is sneaky fast, ego free, and a great test and development driver. Hopefully he finds a good seat for next year.

  2. Why not Kimi alongside Kubica??? 2 big names is what Renault need to come out of their “crisis”! … And it would probably bring the Renault of the Alonso years.. hopefully!

  3. I love this move. Of anyone to sit in Alonso’s seat at Renault, I would prefer Kubica above all else. Now I can still look forward to Renault in the future as Alonso is with Ferrari.

  4. Great article Keith, doubts will shroud the team until more is learnt about Quadbak-Sauber. It is a far from ideal situation as well for the team to prepare for next year when it seems they know very little too. Rumours Heidfeld to follow Kubica, the line up has worked in the past so might as well give it a go. However, I feel sorry for all the rookies this year; it’s very hard to show their talent when there is no testing so they can’t just jump in the car and ‘do a Hamilton’.

    1. I’ll second that!

      The subject of Heidfeld vs. Kubica was up in the F1fanatic forum the other day.I think most would be suprised to check the stats.Heidfeld doesn’t have a 1st place trophy but has outscored Kubica and is much more reliable.If Nick had a more aggressive instinct he would certainly shine over Robert.

    1. This would be bad for Heidfeld. He needs a team where he can get the no. 1 driver status.

      He’s had enough of rivalizing with Kubica – a fight he cannot win.

      1. He needs a team where he can get the no. 1 driver status.

        And what team offers that these days?

        Rivalry with your team mate is a natural and necessary thing in all motorsports. It has nothing to do with “No.1 status”, in fact it is the opposite of having a preferred driver.

        1. You misunderstood me.
          By “where he can get” I meant a team where he’d be teamed with a slower driver than him – a rivalry he could win. He has no chance with drivers like Kubica.

          1. If you had read the article regarding Heidfeld vs. Kubica, you would have seen that in every year but one as teammates, Nick has outscored Bob. BMW Sauber offered him a rivalry he could win….. and he did just that (albeit not in the general public’s opinion)

          2. Tim, what a lot of crap! In 2007 Heidfeld had more points because he participated in more races than Kubica. In 2008 Kubica was better by a milessss ! In 2009… Kubica is ahead again !!!

  5. Now there are fresh doubts over the future of the team and questions are being asked about the kind of company

    Don’t like to be nit-picky but I’m guessing you’ve forgotten to finish that sentence.

    Renault is probably Kubica’s best option right now, lets just hope they can give him a car with which he can challenge for wins again. Hopefully he can stick it to BMW by challenging for the championship that they should have tried to win for him in 08.

    1. i noticed that too :)

      should a team drop out, bringing the 2010 total to 12, would sauber-qadbak be entered in the 13th slot?

      which would be better to see:
      an unknown startup, or the ashes of bmw?

    1. Its easy to be generous with someone else’s checkbook, ajokay.

      BMW/Sauber is a direct competitor for the FOM millions Williams depends on. Williams has nothing to fear regarding their revenues from the ‘new’ teams in the back of the grid, but why on earth would they want to allow a 14th team which is strong enough to be a serious threat to their 2010 constructors points?

      I wouldn’t agree to such ‘generosity’ either when the fiscal survival of my team depends critically on position in constructors championship.

      1. Maybe so, but it’s still annoying for us fans. Plus if Williams want more money than BMW, maybe they should build a faster car, like they used to, and emply a second driver with some credentials and ability to finish in the top 8, instead of yet another Japanese also-ran.

        And, last time I checked, Williams were comfortably above BMW in this year’s standings.

    2. Williams are being really spanner-in-the-worksy recently, aren’t they?

      I like how Williams is sticking to its principles. Telling Ferrari that Schuey shouldn’t have a test. Announcing they plan to run KERS next year despite the veto by the rest of FOTA. Sticking to 13 teams which has been the plan for many months now.

      You should be blaming the FIA for giving away Sauber’s slot to Lotus so hastily.

  6. Renault likes to have a #1 and #2 drivers, I wouldn’t be surprised if Grosjean stays. I have to say I admire him only because he accepted to replace Piquet without proper testig, something Hamilton didn’t do in 06.

    1. And look where it’s gotten him. When he was announced I was not optimistic that he would do better than Piquet and feared he would be branded a flame-out after 1.5 seasons of being a #2 in a mediocre car. He has not done better than Piquet, and is not likely to have a break out year beside Kubica in a rebuilding Renault team.

    2. I presume you mean when Montoya left and if I remember rightly Hamilton was never really considered at the time, it was always between Pedro De La Rosa and Gary Paffett.

    3. Renault likes to have a #1 and #2 drivers, I wouldn’t be surprised if Grosjean stays.

      You’re forgetting that the No.1 and No.2 drivers status was a characteristic of the Briatore management, particularly when Alonso was driving for the team. They have both gone now and control of the team will have been shaken up somewhat. I wouldn’t be surprised if Renault (in an effort to look fair and regulation-abiding) adopt the driver equality found in most teams these days.

  7. Grosjean is going to be replaced by a more mature driver. Now that ALO is off they can’t afford to have a second driver “training”. French press reported they want to replace him by a german driver i.e. HEI, SUT or GLO. As per KUB IMHO he made the wrong choice, Toyota seems more promising that Renault at the moment.

  8. This is a great move for both Kubica and Renault – I hope to see them challenging for the title next year.

    I really don’t seen Kimi going to Renault though, I still think he’ll join McLaren. As for Heidfeld – yes, he’s very reliable and will probably end up in an F1 car next season – but not Renault. The more I think about it, the more I think that Kovaleinen will be Kubica’s team-mate next year.

    Grosjean, although he has plenty of potential, is sadly proof that the test-ban is a bad idea – how on Earth can someone who’s hardly driven an F1 car suddenly be expected to drive on in a race situation? Remember that back in 2006, Kubica got his break with BMW by stepping in during the season having previously been the team’s Friday driver. He had previous experience of driving the car on a regular basis before he stepped up to driving it in a race situation. Drivers like Grosjean, and also Alguesuari over at Torro Rosso have been denied this opportunity – and it could ruin their careers.

  9. Toyota seems more promising that Renault at the moment.

    At the moment – yes. But for many years they can’t achieve nothing special. The story of Renault we all know. The choice for Rob was almost obvious.
    I think it will occur as a very aimed deal.

  10. Great news that Renault are affirming their commitment to F1, and that a top driver believes enough in their viability and commitment. How much of Red Bull’s speed this year can be attributed to their Renault engines, as opposed to a great aero package, chassis or drivers.

    Heidfeld seems a perfect choice for a new team with a limited budget in need of a consistant, dependable driver that can bring experience and stability, and a good teammate for a young, new driver. I would also think Reubens would fill this role perfectly (if Brawn decides to make room for another top-name, sponsor-rich driver).

    Does BMW plan on offering engines to teams, and is Williams looking to replace Toyota?

    1. BMW have said they won’t even be supplying engines next year, so if Sauber do get a place on the grid they will be using Ferrari engines.

      Also Williams were rumoured to be signing up for Renault engines next year but it was thought the decision was delayed to see what the outcome of the race fixing hearing was.

      Frank Williams said the other day that they will have to make a decision on engines very soon so it doesn’t hamper the design of the 2010 car.

    1. Bourdais doesn’t deserve a second chance in an F1 car. He was owned by Vettel last year, and was being owned by Buemi this year.

      If Renault want a Frenchman to drive their car they should stick with Grosjean. He is poor at the moment, but he is young and has potential. Bourdais may be an Indy legend, but he can’t cut it in F1.

  11. Kubica signing with Renault really makes the company seem more stable. He has openly confessed that his next move will be to a tam that is not going to quit on him any time soon. I’m glad he is out of BMW. That team really let him down, and they are paying the price for it now. You always go for the win because you might never get that chance again. They passed it up and are now tucking tale with a great career of one pole and one race win. Bye bye BMW and hopefully a bright future for Kubica.

  12. I think that if QABAK talked with FOTA, told them a little about themselves and what they were intending to do, then FOTA migt be a litle more amenable to letting them in.

  13. First of all Kubica is the real deal. He’s a very talented driver and deserves a team that sticks with him untill the end of the season rather than “focussing on next year” whilst Kubica has a chance to become champion. Second I really think Kubica and Heidfeld make a wonderfull team. Kubica is the fast one of the 2, qualifies better (that’s what Nick should improve on IMO) and just has a higher pace overall. But if you give Heidfeld a decent car he’s going to bring it home 99/100 times. What I also like about him is the way he races. He’s not afraid to take a tactical gamble every once in a while. He’s always “that guy you hardly see in the race, but who does score points”. Webber has a bit of that as well and Kubica needs someone like that next to him. Gives him more freedom to try and push as hard as he can, the team will score anyway.

    Other choices than Heidfeld:
    Raikkonen: I think it’s very unlikely he will get in that car. The’re not competative enough. He’s probably going to McClaren or RBR if indeed he does stay in F1.

    Grosjean: Too early to judge the kid. He only did a few races and I don’t think he did that bad overall. He deserves a chance but it might be too early for him. Perhaps a year as third driver? It’s a big risk to sign him opposed to signing an experienced driver like Heidfeld.

    Trulli: Not a big fan of him. Didn’t do well with Renaul earlier, don’t see why he’s going to do better now.

    Rosberg: Possible, he seems very consistent and very fast and talented. But if he can get a deal with Brawn or McClaren he’s probably going there. I do think Rosberg needs to be tested now. He’s been doing great at Williams, now let’s see how he does when facing a true challenge in his team mate. Kubica provides an excellent challenge but so does Hamilton.

    So I’d pick Rosberg or Heidfeld.

  14. The discussion about the 14th team being on the grid being opposed by Williams is to me another clear indication the Frank Williams is afraid of more competition, does not want to share revenue on a thinner basis and just doesn’t get the fact that F1 is not about him.
    I for one would kick him out of FOTA for good. He got a reasonable reprive and then crapped on FOTA again and was unreasonable about the Ferrari situation.
    He needs to also remember that what goes around comes around.

    1. clear indication the Frank Williams is afraid of more competition, does not want to share revenue on a thinner basis

      So he’s being rational? F1 is not a charity you know.

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