Was Robert Kubica’s switch to Renault a good move? What’s in it for him – and do Renault really believe he can replace their prodigal son Fernando Alonso?
There are a number of reasons why Renault would seem to be the best option for Kubica. The Anglo-French team are relatively recent winners; they have a strong organisational structure that should not be too affected by the departure of Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds; and they finally have manufacturer commitment to the sport, quite a prize. It is also quite difficult to believe Kubica would want to go anywhere else. Toyota have always promised, but never delivered. Williams were an option, but not likely to be anywhere near the front. Brawn didn’t seem to be interested, and there weren’t seats at Ferrari, McLaren or Red Bull. Staying at BMW was realistically a no-brainer.
Furthermore, rumour has it that Kubica has signed only a one-year deal with Renault. This was very clever from him, as it leaves his options open for 2011. Raikkonen will probably be around only for a year or two; Alonso will probably dispose of Massa at Ferrari. So there may well be seats at McLaren or Ferrari in a year’s time…a great prospect for Kubica.
But equally, there are the naysayers about the arrangement. Renault are as unlikely, if not more so, of being competitive next year as they were this year. A narrow escape from punishment, and the stress surrounding the job at the present time, will not focus the boys and girls at the factory. There are no rule changes on the horizon, and this year’s R29 does not provide a good template on which to build. The loss of Briatore may not hurt, but the loss of Symonds almost definitely will. His was a strategic, engineer’s mind; and, lest anyone forget, he was a proven winner.
There are also doubts about Kubica. The Pole used to be mentioned in the same breath as Alonso, Hamilton and Raikkonen but these days a more likely candidate for the elite group is found in Nico Rosberg. Why? Because Kubica has singularly failed to live up to his billing in a poor car. Although Nick Heidfeld is no slouch, trailing the German by six points in the standings at this stage in the season is not a good recommendation of the man from Krakow. Moreover, it is often said that great drivers distinguish themselves in poor machinery, and Kubica has not done that.
But maybe at Renault he will have that chance, and the following year he could well be in a McLaren or a Ferrari. Watch this space…