With Robert Kubica facing a long recovery from his horror rally crash, the candidates to fill his Renault race seat are beginning to line up.
The Lotus-sponsored team’s boss Eric Boullier acknowledged on Monday that with the Polish regular out for several months, he is likely to look beyond contracted reserve drivers Bruno Senna and Romain Grosjean.
“The difference is that it is not going to be for one race but probably all of the first half of the season,” Flavio Briatore, who visited 26-year-old Kubica in hospital on Monday, is quoted by O Estado de S.Paulo.
“So it has to be an experienced driver. The team has come forward compared to last year, so they will need someone who knows how to race at the front,” added the Italian.
The most famous name in the mix is Kimi Raikkonen.
“I’d be amazed if Kimi is still fit enough for F1,” Martin Brundle wrote on Twitter, “and (the world) rally programme trips over F1 tests.”
Numerous journalists’ attempts to contact Raikkonen’s manager Steve Robertson on Monday were fruitless.
“Personally I’d crowbar (Nico) Hulkenberg from FI (Force India),” continued Brundle, the British commentator and former driver and manager.
Timo Gans, a member of Hulkenberg’s management team, admitted the German would be interested in the appointment, even though he is signed up to be Force India’s Friday driver this year.
“We have a contract with Force India and we will not take the initiative to contact Renault,” Gans told the Daily Mail.
“If Renault should contact us we will start thinking about that, but we are not doing that yet. Hopefully Robert gets well soon,” he added.
Also mentioned have been Nick Heidfeld, Jarno Trulli, Pedro de la Rosa and Christian Klien.
Axed Force India driver Vitantonio Liuzzi visited his friend Kubica on Monday and admitted to 422race.com that he would be interested in sitting in for the Pole.
“It’s obvious that when Renault should be sure that Robert won’t be able to step in the car, this chance might be open and I hope to be chosen instead of somebody else,” he said.
It might be said that Vitaly Petrov is either hoping for an experienced driver to replace Kubica so that he is not forced into a leadership position, or hoping for Renault to promote from within to enhance his status in F1.
“I believe it is senseless to discuss Vitaly’s status because there is no such thing as first pilot and second pilot,” his spokeswoman told Ria Novosti agency.
© RIF | GMM