Eric Boullier has dropped some big hints about the possible identity of Robert Kubica’s teammate at Renault in 2011.
The team is weighing up whether to keep Vitaly Petrov, the Russian rookie who is substantially financed, or push ahead with initial discussions with potential replacements.
The highest profile potential successor is Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion who agreed to leave Ferrari at the end of last year and has since been driving full time in the world rally championship.
“Yes, Kimi has been in contact with us, but we’re not yet in discussion,” Boullier is quoted by Auto Hebdo in the Singapore paddock.
“It could be a scenario if we decide not to keep Vitaly.
“What is certain is that if we decide to go back into talks with Raikkonen, I want to meet him to really assess the true motivation for his return,” added Boullier, amid reports the 30-year-old Finn is primarily looking to replace his Ferrari income that is soon to end.
“Whether it’s Kimi Raikkonen or someone else, I want him to be super-motivated to race with us. Whether he’s Finnish, Chinese or French-Swiss, he has to prove he is motivated,” said Boullier.
The nationalities cited by Boullier almost certainly refer to Renault reserve driver Ho-Pin Tung (Chinese) and the newly Gravity-managed Romain Grosjean (French-Swiss).
Also linked with Renault have been Adrian Sutil, and Spain’s AS newspaper reports that Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari has also been in contact with the Enstone based team.
Peter Sauber, Raikkonen’s first team boss in 2001, told the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat: “Personally, I’d be glad if Kimi came back. He is so different and talented.”
Nick Heidfeld added: “He would be able to come back without the slightest problem. I have not been driving for a long time and yet I feel I have come back with exactly the same feeling.”
And Kubica, Raikkonen’s potential teammate, commented: “If I was in Kimi’s position, I might stay in rallying.
“But I’m not saying that because I want him to stay there,” added the Pole, who like Raikkonen is a rallying aficionado.
© RIF | GMM