Renault needs a driver with experience, says Lopez

Lotus Renault GP chairman Gerard Lopez visited Robert Kubica today, and reported that the Pole is making good progress.

Inevitably the Genii boss was asked about who might drive the car in Kubica’s place, and not surprisingly he stressed that the team needed a driver with experience who can win the World Championship.

“From what I learned from doctors, the postoperative course is going well,” Lopez told IVG. “The situation is more rosy than expected, but we were very frightened by this accident.

“I can say I am more comfortable and confident now that I met him. Robert is a great loss that forces us to revise our plans. Now we need to employ all our energies to support the team. This is clearly a difficult time.

“We have to get all the strength to overcome this moment. We cannot yet know if and when Robert will be back on track. So we must exercise caution and await the evolution of his condition. But I can say that Robert has a very strong character and he wants to return as soon as possible to compete.

“If Robert’s recovery will be long and he will not return this season we will rely on a driver with experience. The fate of our season will depend on the new driver. Of course, we must see what happens with the tests we’re going to do. Without Robert it’s difficult to predict. Obviously, we’ll bet on a runner capable of winning the championship.”

Bruno Senna looks set to drive at Jerez this week. Kimi Raikkonen’s name is still cropping up, but his participation in the Swedish rally this week means that his focus is elsewhere and he’s certainly not going to show up for the Jerez test. Nevertheless until he goes public with a ‘no’, he has to be on the top of the team’s list. Of those who raced in 2010 and are not contracted to a team, Nick Heidfeld remains the logical choice.

21 Comments

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21 responses to “Renault needs a driver with experience, says Lopez

  1. Diego P

    “Obviously, we’ll bet on a runner capable of winning the championship.”

    Kimi. Who else?

  2. Simon Benedict

    Frankly I’m amazed at how many hacks are portraying Renault’s upcoming driver decision.

    As you say Adam, Nick Heidfeld is the logical choice.

    But in the past few days I’ve read nothing but people beating the drum for Liuzzi (Saward) and Anthony Davidson (Buxton).

    Putting personal bias well aside who can they possibly go for aside from Nick Heidfeld?

    The man gets results, pure and simple.

    Sure, Raikkonen would be great. But he’s hardly going to be cheap, let along available.

    • Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, I guess. Tonio is a genuine mate, and Pedro one of the best friends I have in F1 – he came to my wedding – but I couldn’t stand up and hand on heart and say either of them are the best men for this particular job. Imagine if Ferrari or McLaren had only Petrov available with one month to go to the first race… It’s exactly the same, this is a team that is there to win races. It has to be Kimi, and if every possible avenue has been explored and it doesn’t work, then get Nick. Once people start talking about drivers contracted elsewhere, including Hulkenberg, we start getting into the realms of fantasy…

      • Ed

        If they are chasing Kimi though, they could do much worse than hiring Pedro to do some work for them in Jerez and maybe even Barcelona.

  3. Ed

    It would be surprising if Kimi suddenly changed his mind after turning the team down only a few months ago.

    However, his father suddenly died recently, and we saw first hand with Kubica how much safer F1 is (look at Canada 07 compared to Sunday), so it’s possible he might have a change of heart.

    • bem

      “and we saw first hand with Kubica how much safer F1 is …”

      Ed, that’s a pretty unfair statement. Before Sunday one could point to Massa’s accident and say “WRC is safer than F1.” In fact we can still say WRC where Kimi competes is safer than F1. But the bottom line is motor sports is dangerous and freak accidents can happen at any level.

  4. F1 Kitteh

    Obviously, we’ll bet on a runner capable of winning the championship

    Is that statement compatible with the Heidfeld? I think he’s referring to JPM who’s already won most things under the sun ;)

  5. Tom Adams

    Not Heidfeld i hope!!
    Senna…. if not Senna, get Villeneuve… YES… I said Jacques Villeneuve. If not those then try Luizzi… just not Heidfeld PLEASE! The guy is a journeyman and so dull and uninspiring………

    • Dull Nick won the F3000 title, has taken an F1 pole, EIGHT second places (any one of which could have been a win with a bit of bad luck ahead), and four thirds. He could well have beaten Robert to the win in Canada had the team not given him a different strategy. When did he ever have a winning car apart from a brief window at BMW? He’s not Alonso or Schumacher but not many people are…

      • Simon Benedict

        Couldn’t agree more with you here Adam.

        My pet hate is hearing Nick being called dull.

        Sure, he doesn’t crash five times in four races and wear silly sideways hats with eyebrow rings (Liuzzi), or play poker with his F1 ‘mates’ (Kubica, Alonso) or tow a celebrity girlfriend around (Button, Hamilton…) but he’s an incredibly effective racing driver.

        And as you say, there aren’t many topline drivers around in the Hamilton/Vettel/Alonso/Kubica mould.

        Nick can firmly hold his own in the second tier of F1 drivers (Barrichello, Webber, Massa) and surely at this stage of the game that’s what Renault needs.

        Nick could have won at Canada in 2008 if he’d raced Kubica rather than letting him by. And he’s since said that he was privately devestated not to have won that race – it was his only realistic chance in ten years of trying.

      • Tom Adams

        Yes, but think also of the brand. Relaunching LOTUS .. they want to sell cars, this is F1 but but also about selling some cars with good PR.
        Heidfeld is not the guy you want for the face of LOTUS RENAULT.
        I say try Senna out, if he isnt up to it then bring in Villeneuve.
        Isn’t Mansell hired by Lotus now..? HAH HAH!
        Id freeking LOVE to see Mansell pull out of the garage in Jerez on saturday morning!

      • Simon Benedict

        Sure, but Robert Kubica and Vitaly Petrov are hardly the most charasmatic faces to be selling Lotus cars either!

        If they want to hire a driver on his good looks they should go and rehire Nelson Piquet !

  6. Simon Benedict

    Adam, I agree with you, Kimi Raikkonen would be the best pick.

    But from what I’ve read Lotus-Renault don’t have a bottomless money pit and for sure Kimi won’t be cheap.

    He’s also committed to a rally programme for this year and I doubt he’s F1 fit.

    And lets not forget, Kimi appeared to have trouble staying motivated during his last two years at Ferrari.

    Can’t think of how he’d feel battling it out in the upper mid-field with Renault…

  7. Martí Muñoz

    Who ever becomes the new Lotus Renault driver, I feel that Robert has lost a good oportunity. It’s true we’re just in the Winter Tests, we won’t know nothing ’til we arrive at Bahrain to start the season, but the R31 seems to be a fast car and his front exhaust system is quite innovative.

    It would be difficult to see Pedro de la Rosa driving for Lotus Renault this year, or no?

    I’d like to see Kimi on the R31 seat this year.

  8. paxdog57

    well if they buy a whole lot of Williams shares maybe they can spring Ruebens free :)

  9. suzie_j

    I just read a report that Renault weren’t going to pick a driver until after the Barcelona tests. Could this be an indication that Renault are still holding out for Kimi? Give him a chance to get some WRC stuff out of the way and a chance for the team to get a better handle on the true potential of the car – is anyone actually positively definitely sure the R31 is a winner?

  10. jose arellano

    kimi is the best option followed by heidfield, followed by liuzzi, followed by senna

  11. Simon Benedict

    You’d think that want to cut with all the messing around and get their new driver into the car pronto.

    Why waste time with reserve and test drivers who won’t be racing.

    Given that they’ve probably just recieved a decent wedge from Senna’s sponsors it’s a very tricky decision. Be interested to know what his contract says…

  12. Tony

    The obvious situation that Renault must confront is “do they really believe that the new car will give them a real chance of winning the world championship?”
    If they do, then they must have a proven race winner in the car.
    There really is only one guy available.
    If they have any doubts about the car and teams ability, then pick anyone that is on the list, it wont make any difference.
    Is he motivated? If the car and team are able to win, then everyone will be motivated.
    Do Renault/Lotus have the money to pay a driver that is capable of winning? Sure, if they are winning!
    If Raikkonen is ready to race in F1 again and Renault want him, then there will be a way found to make it work. Giving Senna a test drive will confirm what they must do!
    For those that doubt Kimi’s motivation at Ferrari, let me ask this, if you knew you were going to loose you job a year ahead of being shown the door, how motivated would you be?
    A Renault with Raikkonen in the seat will bring the focus of the whole team forward in the same way as it would have been with Kubica, so anything else is just marking time.
    I think Renault took a risk with the cars design, now they must finish the job with the next driver they put in for the season.

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