Who will Renault pick to replace Kubica in 2011?

2011 F1 season

Robert Kubica, Renault, Valencia, 2011

Robert Kubica, Renault, Valencia, 2011

With Robert Kubica beginning a slow recovery from the dreadful injuries he suffered on Sunday, Renault team principal Eric Boullier faces the unenviable task of finding a substitute for his star driver.

Renault already has a pair of third drivers, Bruno Senna and Romain Grosjean, plus three reserve drivers – Fairuz Fauzy, Ho-Pin Tung and Jan Charouz. But are any of them up to taking Kubica’s place for what is likely to be an entire year?

Renault were on the cusp of challenging for race victories last year, and instead of promoting one of their existing drivers they may prefer to go with a proven front-running driver – if they can find one.

Here are some of the options that might be open to them.

Kimi R??ikk??nen

For: Former world champion with 18 F1 wins to his name and eight years’ experience with top teams McLaren and Ferrari.

Against: Has been out of F1 for a year. Had a public spat with the team last year in which he accused them of using his name to gain publicity.

Afterwards he said: “I have never even seriously considered driving for Renault, and I can assure you that I am 100 per cent sure that I will not drive for Renault next season.”

Read more: Kimi R??ikk??nen biography

Nick Heidfeld

For: Available, raced in 2010 and has extensive experience of testing the Pirelli tyres.

Spent three-and-a-half years as Kubica’s team mate. Also, he is smaller than Kubica, so fitting him in the car and using KERS should not be a problem.

A safe pair of hands, Heidfeld holds the record for most consecutive race finishes.

Against: No wins in 172 races – he also holds the record for most second-place finishes without a win.

Read more: Nick Heidfeld biography

Pedro de la Rosa

For: Like Heidfeld he is available, raced in 2010 and has extensive experience of testing the Pirelli tyres.

Against: Like Heidfeld there are also question marks over his performance.

Read more: Pedro de la Rosa biography

Bruno Senna

For: According to Boullier if Renault are going to promote from within, Senna is the man who’ll get the drive.

Against: Limited experience – did one race less than a full season last year.

Read more: Bruno Senna biography

Nico H???lkenberg

For: Promising rookie of 2010 who took pole position in Brazil last year. Was dropped by Williams largely for budget reasons.

Tested the 2011-specification Pirellis last week.

Against: Would need to be borrowed from Force India. Only has one season of F1 race experience.

Read more: Nico H???lkenberg biography

Vitantonio Liuzzi

For: Has 2010 F1 race experience.

Against: Was dropped by Force India for 2011 despite having a contract for the season.

Read more: Vitantonio Liuzzi biography

Giancarlo Fisichella

For: Knows the team – drove for them from 1998-2001 and 2005-2007.

Against: Has been out of F1 for a year, would need to be borrowed from Ferrari.

Read more: Giancarlo Fisichella biography

Anthony Davidson

For: Has a huge amount of F1 test experience.

Against: Hasn’t raced in F1 since 2008 and told F1 Fanatic last year the sport is a “closed book” for him.

According to Byron Young he has ruled himself out of the seat and is concentrating on his sports car commitment with Peugeot.

Read more: Anthony Davidson biography

Others

Some outsiders to keep an eye on:

Romain Grosjean – Renault’s other third driver. Only started seven F1 races, all with the team at the end of 2009. Would need replacing at DAMS GP2 team.

Lucas di Grassi – Former Renault development driver who did a full season with Virgin last year before being dropped.

Christian Klien – Another driver with 2010 F1 race experience.

David Coulthard – Hasn’t raced an F1 car since 2008. Tons of experience, but would need to extract himself from Mercedes and BBC commitments.

Whatever Renault choose to do, they can’t wait long to make a decision. There is precious little testing time between now and the start of the season, and the next test in Jerez starts in just two days’ time.

And Petrov’s role should not be overlooked either. As the driver with the most experience of the new Renault and a full season with the team last year, the pressure will be on him to perform.

Who do you think Renault will choose? Who would be the best choice for the team? Have your say in the comments.

Robert Kubica rally crash

Image ?? Julien Leroy / firstlap.be

Advert | Go Ad-free

288 comments on Who will Renault pick to replace Kubica in 2011?

1 2 3 9
  1. brian tumma said on 8th February 2011, 11:21

    I for one would love to see Bruno get a chance to shine but can’t really see him being a longterm choice (unless he really impresses!)

    • Sparky said on 8th February 2011, 11:31

      Yeah, I’d at least like to see what he can do, he was unlucky to miss out on the Honda/Brawn seat.

      • Griggs said on 8th February 2011, 11:58

        I’d love to see a new face in F1. Therefore I’d like to see Senna get the seat, even if its for the full year.

        Petrov had it easy last season. He had the best car of all the rookies and had no pressure to beat his team-mate as no one expected him to. Give Senna the drive and lets have a competition. :D

        • topdowntoedown (@topdowntoedown) said on 8th February 2011, 12:44

          A new face in F1? Senna drove the HRT last season, remember?

          Admittedly you could be forgiven for forgetting: he didn’t show any sign of being anything special.

          • Griggs said on 8th February 2011, 13:45

            *sigh*

          • Griggs said on 8th February 2011, 13:49

            In all honesty, we’ve seen Heidfeld, De La Rosa, and Kimi for years now.

            Rookies need to be given a chance. Senna didn’t have that.

            Di Grassi, Petrov and Chandhok hardly showed much promise either, but these people need time, time that people like Kimi were once given.

            They are good drivers. Give the the new guys a break.

          • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 8th February 2011, 18:12

            Agreed. The best thing for Renault might be to get Räikkönen in the car, but the best thing for the sport might be to see Senna get a shot in a decent car, and the marketing gurus will be salivating at the thought of a Senna with that helmet in a black and gold “Lotus.”

          • *sigh*

            In all honesty there are enough pay-drive rookies in and around F1 who have more money than talent.

            Drivers with talent and experience need to be given a chance. Kimi Raikkonen didn’t need time to prove his worth, he finished in 6th on his debut after jumping straight up from Formula Renault.

            Renault have already given Petrov too much of a chance now they need an experienced driver who is actually quick, can lead the team and can get them points.

          • Calum said on 8th February 2011, 19:11

            I’d love for Nick to be given a final chance at glory – it would be airytale tuff if he came back an won a race – there’s no dubtin the Renault performance.

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 8th February 2011, 19:32

            Actually I think this summs it up quite nicely: http://www.grandprix.com/ns/ns22923.html

            First step would seem to be giving Senna, maybe Grosjean or Heidfeld some time in the car to see what they are like.

            For me it would be 1. having a try at Kimi. If he does not bite, look at Heidfeld or take a gamble with Huelkenberg or if they are feeling good about Bruno, give it to him.

          • Mike (@mike) said on 8th February 2011, 22:07

            To be honest, I think Kimi is such a long shot it’s not even worth discussing…

    • kfpog said on 8th February 2011, 12:20

      flavio britore visited Kubica in hospital yesterday. flavio was asked if his 1 year old son is still such a fat bugger. Robert’s fine. No need any replacement.

      • rafael said on 8th February 2011, 13:22

        Bruno is too young for a first driver. If Raikonen is not available i would try Heidfeld and then Bourdais as the experienced drivers. I think Heidfeld is good, consistent but not great. I do think that if Bourdais is given a car or work on it for his driving style he can be fast. I would base my decision on testing

        • Bourdais, absolute lollerskates there!!

          Heidfeld is really the only likely candidate alongside luizzi for getting someone in. Otherwise it will be Senna

          • rafael said on 8th February 2011, 17:31

            I would prefer Bourdais than Liuzzi. At least in his one and half year he was first in one of the SPA qualifings, and qualified 4th in Monza. What´s the best result of Liuzzi in his more than 4 years of experience?

        • Kimster said on 8th February 2011, 17:42

          There is only one good option and his manager is mr Weber.
          Its The Hulk :)

    • jus do a shoot out at jerez, faster guy gets it!!

      • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 8th February 2011, 18:15

        They’d never do that though as it would show the true pace of their car at this point, which no team would do so early as they all sandbag a bit…

        • SeattleChris (@seattlechris) said on 8th February 2011, 20:06

          Heavy fuel load and ten laps a piece in two sessions… they can see who is quickest in a heavy, fuel laden, car and no one would know how the car behaves on low fuel. Besides, they’ve already got Bruno and Romain, so they can afford to do it now or even at the last test. The true pace of the cars are generally shown by the last test anyway so if they don’t like my suggestion, then they can have their shootout at the last test.

    • Tomislav said on 8th February 2011, 21:14

      My choice will be Kimi, Nick, Niko or Bruno.
      I think those are the options to be considered in Renault.
      1. Kimi – top driver, world champion
      2. Nick – solid driver, experienced
      3. Niko – talented driver with a future
      4. Bruno – no one knows exactly what to expect from him but he is Renault test driver and he would be a big media event at the beginning because Ayrton – the same team, same car color, and the same helmet- like we are 26 years back.

  2. Daniel said on 8th February 2011, 11:21

    Martin Brundle.

    • Hare (@hare) said on 8th February 2011, 11:30

      I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Nigel Mansell will make a come back… in fact, I’m not gonna wash my clothes until he does!!

    • TrueF1Grit (@truef1grit) said on 8th February 2011, 11:30

      He is by far their best option.

      • Daniel said on 8th February 2011, 11:38

        I personally think he would be great. He showed just last week at Daytona that he still has the speed, even after not racing for 10 years. The fact that he could pick things up so quickly after that type of a gap, demonstrates that he has the skills you need in modern F1. Plus he has knowledge and experience to be very useful.

        Still, the toughest thing would be to get him away from his new BBC role. Brundle is the one who is always saying that you never lose the speed only the need.

    • Awesome – no issues with BBC either, as I’m sure Brundle wouldn’t have a problem doing the commentary from within the car at the same time!

      • It could work; …. and that was lee mckenzie in the pit lane, now lets hear from Martin Brundle who is in 6th place behind Button, what can you see from there Martin?

        • Palle said on 8th February 2011, 15:36

          hehe – good one…

        • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 8th February 2011, 16:35

          If we can then also switch to an onboard cam, it would be nice.

          Imagine a wet Abu Dhabi: [Brundle] absolutely nothing just like the others David, but I am sure we make a pretty picture with the hotel lights reflected by the rain. Good thing this championship won’t be decided here. By the way, any news on what Hamilton and Alonso are up to with tyres, are they holding or do I have a chance to pass them during a pitstop?

        • hahaha.. good one!

  3. Klon (@klon) said on 8th February 2011, 11:23

    We must have a glorious Ralf Schumacher comeback. Ecclestone said it would be a good idea and he’s completely right.

  4. Kimi or Nick. Nick will be a lot safer, but Kimi if properly motivated could yield better result. Renault will not borrow Hulk, they’d rather take outsider to protect info from competitor.

    • I think we can rule Kimi out – he won’t be quite fit enough – nor motivated unless he is there for at least a season.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 8th February 2011, 13:40

      If Renault can get Kimi to get in the car, take him. Hell, if he does well, they will leave him in the car till the end of the year even if Robert is fit again during the season.
      I do not see any reason, why Kubica would not replace Petrov in some of the races in such a case, if only to see how he does or even to keep off competitors.

      When Kimi does not take the seat on offer, I would think Liuzzi or Heidfeld are the way to go. They might be good at developing, have enough experience and both have something to prove. Do not expect fireworks from them though.

      Unless the team feels really sure that Robert will return during the season, I would not give the seat to Bruno Senna and Grosjean should do the GP2 season.

      • I’d much rather see Senna than Liuzzi….

        • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 8th February 2011, 18:19

          Me too. He’s had his shot and hasn’t produced any results to speak of. I know Joe Saward has a million explanations why, but it’s time for fresh blood in the sport. If it’s not Kimi I hope it’s Senna.

      • Todfod (@todfod) said on 8th February 2011, 16:22

        Its obvious that if they could pick up kimi, they would. But last year’s spat between the two, and Kimi’s lack of interest in F1 pretty much sums up the chances of his comeback.

        I think Heidfeld is their best choice. He is consistent, quick and has a wealth of experience. If they cannot get Heidfeld.. then I think they should give Bruno a chance.

        I think the talk of Hulkenberg or Fisi is just ridiculous. Bruno could possibly match Hulkenberg given the chance, and Fisi has been out for a whole season already.

  5. magon4 (@magon4) said on 8th February 2011, 11:25

    i think they should go with either nico hülkenberg or adrian sutil, the latter would be the preferred options as one of the most talented f1 drivers; but it would be tough to get him out of his contract (not that tough, since they do have hulk as a reserve). timo glock would be a great choice, too.
    from those without a contract, nick heidfeld would be the safest bet.
    ok, all of those are germans, but that’s a coincidence.

    • Andy W (@andy-w) said on 8th February 2011, 11:59

      I agree, I think they should be going after Sutil, he is a fast aggressive driver and desperate to push himself up the grid and this could be just the car for him. Adrian has plenty of experience in developing cars and I think would make a good team leader given a stable team to drive for.

      • Hairs (@hairs) said on 8th February 2011, 20:12

        one of the most talented f1 drivers;

        Sutil has had 4 years to prove himself, and proved nothing other than that he is a slow learner.

        Sutil, he is a fast aggressive driver and desperate to push himself up the grid and this could be just the car for him. Adrian has plenty of experience in developing cars

        Sutil is a maniac unpredictable unreliable driver with plenty of experience wrecking cars at random, when under no pressure of any kind.

        • Hare (@hare) said on 8th February 2011, 22:55

          Wow Hairs, sounds like he ran over your cat? Have a whisky brov, calm down a little…

          He’s very much a mid field driver who barely distinguishes himself. But this is a new season, new car.. So we will see.. Or as they say in Germany.. Ve Vill See!!

    • Palle said on 8th February 2011, 15:45

      I’m with You a long way…
      Nick is a sensitive driver – he drives smooth and lack’s some agressiveness – he never causes an accident, but he is stable, experienced as he brilliantly showed in Silverstone 2008 – where he made the call and shifted to full wets with a few laps remaining, and he ended 2.
      Senna is definitely not up to the title as lead driver with Renault, yet…

  6. Alexi said on 8th February 2011, 11:25

    I’m thinking it will be Heidfeld. On terms of performance he may not have won a single race, but he held his own against Kubica and has tons of experience.

    Besides, he’s so desperate to win anything he’d possibly race for free :D

    Raikkonen would still be the better choice, but he is likely too expensive.

    • He’s certainly the safest driver for LRGP to choose, but that doesnt always mean the best. But i agree, because he’s the safest and has some speed, he’s going to get the seat. I think Kimi is a near-as-certain not going to happen, whether its because he isnt motivated, paid enough or simply doesnt want to. But then i gave up trying to figure out the guy ages ago.

      The dark horse could be Luizzi, he’s got the cash, is a well known testdriver and has got speed and i dont think he showed who he actually is last season which has tarnished his image. I think Luizzi could be either a masterstroke of genius or an accident to happen. Up to LRGP to descide, but theres a lot to choose from.

  7. They can’t choose any of there reserve drivers or they might as well write off their season.
    I think Hulkenberg would make sense, failing that I’d go for Jean Alesi!

    • TrueF1Grit (@truef1grit) said on 8th February 2011, 11:41

      Hulkenberg is their best option. He has potential, Heidfeld is a safe option, but not aggressive enough to put the car above and beyond where it should be. I wouldn’t put Bruno is the car for a year, and Kimi won’t want to come back, unless of course, there is a massive pay check. Grosjean is good, but Renault need to get the best results while it has this possible advantage from their front blown diffuser. So they need a good driver, with recent Grand Prix experience. I definetly can’t see Coulthard coming back, especially not with Renault. Pedro isn’t good enough, sorry. Davidson has other commitments, I can’t see Renault even approaching him. Liuzzi didn’t prove himself last year, as I said previously, Renault need a fast, conistenbt driver, which he is not. I did not watch F1 back in Klien’s years, but he didn’t impress compared with Senna in the Hispania this year.

      So, i’d put Hulkenburg in the car, he was good in the second part of 2010, and you have to take a little risk. If they put Heidfeld in the car, Renault are playing it safe.

      This has really harmed Kubica, I could see him driving for Ferrari in 2012, This injury means he will be back at Renault or a slower team in 2012, even if ferrari wanted him, with a year off, he’ll need at least half a year to get back up to speed. I think Massa’s contract ends in 2012, correct me if i’m wrong, Ther main candidate for the seat was Kubica, if Massa did leave, who would replace him now?

      PS. The Hispania this year looks amazing.

      • zecks said on 8th February 2011, 13:22

        I agree, and i bet my house that the hulk was on the phone to his manager the second he knew Kubica wasn’t going to make the grid.

  8. Dan Thorn (@dan-thorn) said on 8th February 2011, 11:26

    It’s a tough one. If Senna or Grosjean take the seat then obviously they’d need a decent amount of testing time, but alternatively with Kubica gone an experienced hand would do them well for car development. De La Rosa or Heidfeld would fit perfectly.

    Personally I think split the rest of testing between Petrov and Heidfeld/Senna, do the opening flyaway races with Heidfeld and then give Senna a go.

  9. Maciek said on 8th February 2011, 11:26

    My top candidates would be Grosjean because he deserves a chance to redeem his reputation, Bruno Senna for the obvious reasons, but also because what better way to see if he can cut it, and then Hulkenberg, who also deserves a decent car to show what he’s capable of. None of them are proven quantities, but Raikkonen isn’t happening (I think?), Heidfeld would be boring and the others even more so.

    • Mark Hitchcock (@mark-hitchcock) said on 8th February 2011, 13:38

      Agreed. Grosjean was impressive in his non-F1 racing since he was dropped so I’d like to see him have another go in a good car. And I’d hate to see Senna languishing in third driver/testing roles for a significant part of his career. Even if he turns out to be as rubbish as HRT made him look, I’d like him to at least have a shot at a good car.

      • Grosjean should get another shot I think but between Bruno and him I’d go for Bruno because he has more recent experience in F1.

  10. GirVet (@girvet) said on 8th February 2011, 11:26

    Why isn’t Sakon Yamamoto on the list? ;)

  11. RedBullRacer (@redbullracer) said on 8th February 2011, 11:26

    I think Heidfeld is the best option – and when I say ‘best’ I also mean most realistic. Of the drivers that are available i.e. don’t have other contractual commitments etc, he is clearly the best. Yes, he’s never had a win, but even if he could just be a contender for podium finishes, that would be good for Renault this year.
    Ultimately, Kubica is a huge talent and certainly not easy to replace, so I think the best Renault can hope for is to get someone experienced, consistent and reliable. That’s Heidfeld all over.

  12. Dafffid (@dafffid) said on 8th February 2011, 11:27

    Bit strange to say that Del La Rosa has serious questions marks over his performance (true), “like Heidfeld”. Don’t remember De La Rosa letting Kubica pass for an (eventual) win, don’t remember De la Rosa up on the podium much. Heidfeld may not be brilliant, but he’s a mile ahead of De La Rosa.

    Would love to see Davidson come in – but never going to happen. Would like to see Heidfeld back, or would be very pleased to see Hulkenberg get a drive. Even Chandhok…. Klein… anyone… sadly I suspect it’s going to be Senna… the ad-men will have their say.

  13. Daniel said on 8th February 2011, 11:27

    JV might be available. Other websites have mentioned him as a possibility. Do you know something we don’t Keith? Or do you just not rate him as a chance?

  14. Enigma (@enigma) said on 8th February 2011, 11:27

    Heidfeld would be great I reckon. He’s already shown that he’s not much worse than Kubica and I’m sure he could win races in a competitive car.

    If not Heidfeld, than I think Hulkenberg would be okay too.

    • Pretty much agree with you. I’d personally go for Hulkenberg because although he’s scrappy he could achieve something really great. However, if Petrov’s as crashtastic as last year they should probably plump for Heidfeld.

      • Hulkenburg would be an interesting choice as it’d leave Renault with two highly inexperianced drivers. Although Hulkenburg was improving last year, the risk of all those double DNF’s could drive Boiullier to distraction.

        THis s why they should have hired Glock in this Winter, I still think prising him out of his Virgin contract is the best option. Dump/Chuck Senna the other way.

        Only truely promising talent with the requesite experiance is Glock. Hulkenburg would be fun and a risk that might just pay off, he has been extraordinarily successfull in the lower Formula and seemed to be comming good. Heidfeld would at least be safe.

        Do wish Kimi could be bothered to get his act together though.

    • I agree to, Heidfeld is quick and reliable. Renault wouldn’t have to worry about Kubica’s replacement as much if they had Heidfeld rather than Senna. Though I’d love to see Fisichella back.

  15. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 8th February 2011, 11:28

    I think Heidfeld would be the best choice. But who wouldn’t like to see six world champions in F1? (Correct me if I’m wrong but I think that would be a first).

    • Hare (@hare) said on 8th February 2011, 11:32

      thats exactly 1/4th of the grid if he comes back.

      Remembering the Schumacher years, I would never have bet this many world champs in F1 at the same time, let alone if Kimi came back.

    • I really do fail to see why people on this site eulogise Heidfeld as if he’s one of the great lost talents of F1. He and his (lengthy) F1 career are the epitome of mediocrity.

      I really don’t get it. Could someone enlighten me please?

    • Renault signed up an army of relatively unproven test and reserve drivers who could step up for 1-2 races if one of the race drivers was indisposed, but no more than that especially with Petrov in the other car. And there’s a reasonable chance Kubica will be able to return, so they aren’t looking for a long-term solution. In other words, Renault needs an experienced driver who’s competent, a known quantity and will be able to put in good (if possibly not great) performances – but whose career aspirations won’t require a long term contract.

      Raikkonen is attractive but too expensive, has fallen out with the team and it may be too complicated to extract from his rally deal. De La Rosa failed to distinguish himself at Sauber last year. Fischella and Davidson (and Brundle, Coulthard and Villeneuve) have been out of F1 for too long. Grosjean, Senna and Di Grassi are still relatively unknown quantities who may struggle to get the most out of a very promising car. Klien and Liuzzi have had a decent amount of time to establish themselves but never really managed it. Sutil and Glock are both under contract.

      Heidfeld is available, proven and still race fit. He may not set the world alight but he could be relied upon to do a solid job, which is probably the best Renault could hope for. The best alternative would be Hulkenberg, if he can be released from his Force India deal (don’t bet on it given that he’s Force India’s insurance against Di Resta having problems).

    • Anatoly Nechaev said on 8th February 2011, 12:46

      My thoughts exactly.

      I really don’t see Hulk fit for the job.
      Same experience as Petrov, Senna and Grosjean (who have KERS experience and was faster in GP2).
      Liuzzi and de la Rosa are slower than Heidfeld.

      Don’t know what to think of Fisi…

    • kowalsky (@kowalsky) said on 8th February 2011, 13:17

      i think the best choice is hulkemberg. I think kubica is not coming back to f1. Maybe to rally or something less demanding, but not to f1. So they have to search for some talent they can use in the future. And the hulk demostrated with his pole last year to have the talent.

1 2 3 9

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments must abide by the comment policy. Comments may be moderated.
Want to post off-topic? Head to the forum.
See the FAQ for more information.