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

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

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

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  1. David said on 7th October 2009, 21:26

    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?

    • striay said on 7th October 2009, 21:33

      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!

      • Sush Meerkat said on 7th October 2009, 21:54

        … Redbull alongside Vettel would be my dream

        Webber is already signed as a Red Bull Racer next year.

        • Woffin said on 7th October 2009, 22:58

          Not guaranteed since Webber’s new contract for Red Bull was done by Flavio, who has since been kicked out of the sport ;)

          • Hallard said on 7th October 2009, 23:14

            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.

          • Daniel said on 7th October 2009, 23:21

            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.

        • Alex 3 said on 8th October 2009, 0:41

          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.

        • Webber is already signed as a Red Bull Racer next year.

          So was Raikkonen with Ferrari…

          • The_Pope said on 8th October 2009, 13:18

            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.

      • Prisoner Monkeys said on 8th October 2009, 0:41

        There’s already a rumourthat he’s talking with them … but it’s only rumour for the time being.

        • steph90 said on 8th October 2009, 12:42

          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.

  2. Good move and an expected one. Hopefully Heidfeld will follow suit, and Grosjean shipped off to Campos for a year.

    • Randy said on 10th October 2009, 23:32

      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.

  3. striay said on 7th October 2009, 21:35

    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!

  4. 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.

  5. Steph90 said on 7th October 2009, 21:36

    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’.

  6. If Kubica gets a good race seat for 2010, then I hope Heidfeld does aswell.

    • Wesley said on 7th October 2009, 22:40

      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.

  7. Brian said on 7th October 2009, 22:04

    Kubica and Heidfeld will be teamates again. I have no doubts.

    • Damon said on 7th October 2009, 23:57

      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.

      • Brian said on 8th October 2009, 2:42

        I would love to see Heidfeld and Wickens as teamates on one of the new teams.

      • Nitpicker said on 8th October 2009, 10:45

        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.

        • Damon said on 8th October 2009, 12:40

          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.

          • Nitpicker said on 8th October 2009, 13:17

            Heidfeld’s a good driver but I don’t think he’s in a position to pick and choose his seat for next year.

          • 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)

          • 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 !!!

  8. Mark Hitchcock said on 7th October 2009, 22:08

    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.

    • F1Yankee said on 7th October 2009, 22:26

      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?

  9. Williams are being really spanner-in-the-worksy recently, aren’t they? It’s starting to annoy.

    And nice one Rob, lets see what you can do with some Renault Power underneath you.

    • just me said on 8th October 2009, 7:29

      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.

      • ajokay said on 8th October 2009, 9:42

        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.

    • Nitpicker said on 8th October 2009, 10:50

      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.

  10. Sébastien F said on 7th October 2009, 22:25

    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.

    • 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.

    • slice said on 7th October 2009, 22:55

      You admire that he went in to F1 unprepared? Also, Hamilton didn’t do it because he wasn’t offered. They didn’t think he was ready, but he did.

    • 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.

    • Nitpicker said on 8th October 2009, 10:54

      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.

    • Random Chimp said on 8th October 2009, 11:03

      Without Briatore maybe they’ll start giving their drivers equal oppurtunities

  11. Toncho said on 7th October 2009, 22:56

    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.

  12. 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.

  13. phoros said on 7th October 2009, 23:08

    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.

  14. Florida Mike said on 7th October 2009, 23:32

    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?

    • 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.

      http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/79301

  15. DaveG said on 8th October 2009, 0:20

    What about Bourdais?
    If Renault are looking to rebuild their image, Kubica is a great start and have an experienced French driver as 2nd driver.

    • sato113 said on 8th October 2009, 3:23

      good point, I always thought Bourdais adapted to F1 better than most people thought.

    • GeeMac said on 8th October 2009, 7:42

      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.

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