Boullier defends decision to let Kubica rally

2011 F1 season

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Robert Kubica, Renault, Valencia, 2011

Eric Boullier stands by his decision to allow Robert Kubica to participate in rallies despite his driver’s crash on Sunday.

The Renault team principal told reporters in Jerez: “No. I’m sorry, I stick on my point of view.

“I’m a racing guy, I’ve known Robert for five or six years. Robert is a racer. He loves go-karts, he loves rallying, he loves Formula 1. He’s just like a wild cat, if you put him in a cage you’d get him mad.

“Everybody can bring his opinion about this. Yes, there will be the pro-, there will be the anti-. And at the end we do what we believe is best for the team and for the driver.

“Yes, it’s very unfortunate and sad he’s in the hospital today. But before this corner he was the happiest man on earth. I guess, except he wanted to be world champion.”

Boullier added that Kubica is “in the best condition we can dream, or expect” given his injuries. He is due to have further surgery lasting four to five hours on his elbow and shoulder but is “out of danger now”, according to Boullier.

The team principal added that the timing of Kubica’s accident made it more likely the team would choose to put an experienced driver in the car:

“If the accident had happened in July or August, the car would have been developed. So we could have had the choice to go for a young driver to give him some miles and train and educate him in Formula 1.

“The accident, unfortunately, arrived right after the first shakedown of the season. We have to develop the car from scratch. So the obvious choice of driver is an experienced driver.”

Boullier listed the new Pirelli tyres, KERS and adjustable rear wing as further reasons why an experienced driver was needed to develop the car. He added that the team’s “aggressive” car, with front-exiting exhausts, was another reason to opt for experience.

He hopes to make a call on a replacement for Kubica after the Jerez test finishes on Sunday:

“Nick is here. If I may say this without being arrogant he is here to be evaluated. Once we are finished the test if we’re happy with Nick, we’ll get Nick.

“If we are not, we will go to Barcelona with another driver.”

He added that Kimi Raikkonen was not interested in leaving his rally commitments behind to drive for the team.

Robert Kubica rally crash

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    Keith Collantine
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    77 comments on “Boullier defends decision to let Kubica rally”

    1. Too bad would have loved to see Senna driving.

      1. Perhaps he’ll be given the odd round, especially if Heidfeld doesn’t stand out. With Renault having so many drivers available to them, perhaps they’ll rotate them slightly if by mid-season neither of their drivers are doing particularly well.

      2. Yeah same as me, what bull crap, why bother signing Senna in the first place.

        1. Because they are trying to push the Lotus thing?

    2. “The accident, unfortunately, arrived right after the first shakedown of the season. We have to develop the car from scratch. So the obvious choice of driver is an experienced driver.

      Once we are finished the test if we’re happy with Nick, we’ll get Nick.

      That leaves little drivers other than Nick. De La Rosa, or some other test driver. But I think Nick will be picked.

      1. I think I saw Pedro de la Rosa and Liuzzi mentioned as back up, if Nick blunders somehow (like crash the car at the first turn? Not likely, given this is bring it home in the points Heidfeld).

        1. If Renault don’t be happy enough with Nick I really doubt they can be happy with De La Rosa or Liuzzi… As much as I would like to see Senna driving a competitive car, a driver like Heidfeld can’t be left out of the grid

    3. Hope Nick get it!!!

      1. “gets”

    4. Would’ve been nice to see Raikkonen drive…

      1. I don’t think so.

        Raikkonen has had so many chances to return to F1 yet he simply doesn’t want to. He wouldn’t be racing with his heart in it and would be average. Heidfeld meanwhile is desperate to stay in the sport. I commend this personally, and as a result i’m happy to see him get the drive.

        The only thing that concerns me is what on earth is the point of a reserve driver if they are not good enough to drive when the lead driver has an injury? That’s not how I rate Senna personally, but clearly how Renault see him.

        Unless I’m being naive of course, but I can’t personally see how the feedback given by Senna or Heidfeld would vary that much. I admit Heidfeld’s would be better, but only marginally – they’ve all got to F1 in the first place after all.

        1. I completely agree Sw. It is all about the timing of the accident but if Senna doesn’t get chosen then 3rd drivers will be even less significant than they are now with the testing ban.

          1. HounslowBusGarage
            10th February 2011, 21:43

            Do you think Senna will stay with Renault?
            Given such a slap in the face, I’m not sure I would.

            1. I’m not sure he has any other options at the moment. He’s contracted himself to renault and may be stuck there. It would be upsetting for him, however if Petrov fails to impress maybe he can get a few drives from the other side of the garage.

            2. I think he will for this season.

              Problem is though, a season without racing is damaging. He should be in GP2 or something. When he realises that he isn’t getting anywhere I imagine he’ll jump ship. He probably thought there was a race drive at Renault in 2012 available as many thought Robert would go to Ferrari, but the accident has raised so many doubts that its impossible to know now.

              Regardless, it’d be nice to see the Senna name staying in F1 as I don’t think that Bruno has been given a fair chance yet.

      2. yes i too..

        WOULD HAVE LOVED KIMI to be back.. :-(

        1. jimscreechy (@)
          10th February 2011, 17:04

          Thank god Raikonnen isn’t coming back. Screechy – thankful for small mercys

          1. Kimi’s already been a world champion, and after that he’s got nothing left to achieve, there’s no challenge left there for him.

            1. Apart from beating Massa…

          2. small mercies from who?

        2. I love Kimi. Best interviews ever! He will give WRC a few years before he truly considers returning… he knows he’s fast on the street and loves the challenge; plus he’s Finnish so WRC is kind of a big deal… Like Keith!

    5. I know many people think, Martin Brundle included, that Renault were ‘crazy’ to allow Kubica to go rallying but I think far too often those in and around the F1 bubble think that F1 is more important than it really is. Kubica took part in F1 because he loves racing, he’s not racing because he loves F1. Kubica’s love of driving is so great he was prepared to risk his health and future success in F1 on a club rally. I for one find it refreshing to find a driver that prioritises his love of motor sport above everything else and a team that is willing to allow it.

      1. jimscreechy (@)
        10th February 2011, 17:05

        Ads21 – completely agree.

      2. Absolutely agree. You’ve pretty much said everything I feel on the matter!

      3. +1

        Frankly a lot of the comments to the opposite effect get on my nerves, I wouldn’t mind if the team took a harder line (they’re having to clean up the mess after all), but the fans shouldn’t be suggesting what a driver can or cannot do in his spare time.

      4. I fully agree with this stance. We all loved the time when drivers could go out and win in Indy, CanAm and LeMans next to fighting for the F1 title.
        Sure, there were less races then to occupy their season.

        On the other hand the winter is completely boring without any driving, not even testing.
        I loved Webber telling how he got crazy after 3 days on the rotoped, so went for an outing on the bicycle. Button does Triathlon, Schumi got on motorbikes, Rossi does F1 testing and Rally, Trulli grows wine.
        Everyone needs his own thrills to get through the winter, the racyest guys will want to race. Kudos to Boullier and Gravity for understanding what to offer their drivers to make them tick at top level.

        Had Kimi had this kind of management and team he might never have lost interest. Now he has a different thrill, winning the WRC championship. If he makes it that would be just as sensational as getting it on 2 and on 4 wheels.

        1. If i was a team principal i would have let my drivers drive in other sports because if you have a displeased driver that feels oppressed, has a negative effect on his relationship with the team and his performance on the track. A happy driver is a better driver.

          1. HounslowBusGarage
            10th February 2011, 21:49

            I understand your POV completely. But if I was the team manager forced to stand in front of the main board of Renault (and ask for more money)and explain a poor 2011 season because I allowed the Number 1 driver to go off rallying . . .

            1. But you’ve failed to consider that driving rallies might just be the best way for a particular F1 driver to stay in form.

              Surely, a long break from racing in the off-season doesn’t help performance.

      5. Ads21 gets my “two thumbs up” award for today.

      6. You hit the nail on the head there mate. Spot on. :)

    6. As Boullier said “…before this corner he was the happiest man on earth.”

      and that’s what it’s all about, freedom, and pursuing your dreams. Yes, sometimes you get hurt but it’s still worth it in the end.

      RK will be back.

      1. I agree, without it he would not be the motivated and quick racer he has shown to be. Boullier explains exactly why Kubica led the team to such an improved 2010 last year.

        1. You can also see from the way he attacks the tight streets of Monaco how useful the rallying is.

    7. I am in favour of drivers racing in other series in their spare time, and thought it was a pity that more drivers didn’t follow Kubica’s example of rallying or Bourdais doing Le Mans.

      Unfortunately it will be even less likely that we see any F1 drivers driving anything other than an F1 car in anger now.

    8. I was very surprised to hear of Martin’s comments. I’m sure i’ve heard him say that he would love to see more Formula One drivers given the opportunity to race in other classes, yet this goes completely against it.

      I know he made the argument of ‘not this close to a season, anyway’, but perhaps i’m missing the point here, but what difference would it have made as to whether it was at the end of 2010, or last week?

      Also, I give credit to Boullier. I think alot of people seem to find him a little characterless but actually, I actually with all he’s had to say and the manner in which he’s handled this untimely incident.

      Good for him.

      1. Characterless? He swore on the BBC!

        1. I have seen the interview and the “crazy” comment has really been picked on. However, I thought Brundle’s point did seem to be more about the timing of the rally (we are only 30 or so days away from day 1 of Bahrain) rather than him taking part full stop.
          If this was his point then I agree with it, but I do want my F1 drivers to be the best in the world and that means they have to be able to drive other cars exceptionally well.

    9. Fred Schechter
      10th February 2011, 17:03

      Glad for Heidfeld to get a top drive (they’ve got to pick him). Still absolutely gutted for Robert, all the best recovering man! As for Boullier’s decision to let Robert rally, it was the right one. I’m sure Robert will come out and say it was something he really wanted to do and enjoyed. I’m sure we’ll see him back in frame doing both again as well. He’s a racer.

    10. I find myself constantly on the fence with Boullier. He makes one great comment followed by a poor one time after time.
      I 100% with him on letting Kubica go after his passion, but then he says Robert will be out for at least 3 months and could be back after that. Has he not been listening to how bad his injuries are and what the doctors are saying?

      1. jsw11984 (@jarred-walmsley)
        10th February 2011, 18:12

        Where abouts does he say that?

        The only other mentions of dates I can see is July and August which he used when he was saying why Senna wouldn’t be in the car but if it had been around those dates he would have been.

      2. But he says it is minimum 3 months before he is physically OK to get into rehabilitation, and then he adds it can be another 2 months before he is back in the car.
        The bottom line is, minimum 3 months, where Renault needs to develop the car.

    11. I agree completely with Boullier that it was the right decision to let Kubica rally. And I am most pleased they are looking at Heidfeld for the replacement drive, he is the driver they should have had in the other Renault all along. The only thing keeping him out of a seat has been lack of sponsorship money and a feeling he is getting a bit past his prime. But the latter I do not understand, a guy who has 8 second places to his name but no victories doesn’t strike me as a bad driver, rather an unlucky one. Give the guy a quick car and he will do well.

    12. I salute you, Mr. Boullier, for your racing spirit and putting the human before the money and business.

      RIGHT ON!

    13. Kubica is in the top 25% of the best drivers on the planet, and he has completed many rally stages in the past. It was just an unfortunate accident given the odds of it happening and indeed the injuries Kubica received. Also the talk of the R31 being a contender beg the question of ‘what could have been for Renault and Robert?’

      1. im in the top 25% of drivers on the planet. Robert is one of the top 0.0000025%

        1. Yeah, I was gonna say something similar. He’s probably one of the top 25 drivers on the planet, not just top 25% of drivers.

    14. I think people like Martin Brundle who think that Renault is ‘crazy’ to let Bob rally needs to have another look at the photos from the accident. Pure, unadulterated FREAK accident. If the car had rolled 7 or 8 times, Bob would have had maybe a sprained neck. But to have the car itself literally impaled by a barrier? To have to remove the engine from the cockpit before having full access to the driver? Massive Kudos to Renault for standing behind their decision. The severity of this accident still bothers me a great deal as Bob is one of my top 3 favorite drivers (active or not), and I really hope to see him come back inordinately quickly, but it was such a bizarre incident that one CANNOT say with ANY degree of intelligence that the team was foolish to have let him participated.

      1. Perfectly said, Dean.

      2. Pure, unadulterated FREAK accident.


    15. Maybe Heidfeld is just being used as a benchmark.

      For the car, to extract some feedback from him, which he’s probably eager to show, since he wants the drive.

      And he can also be a benchmarkt for Senna. If Senna’s on the same pace as Heidfeld, he will be hard to ignore for “JPS-Lotus-Renault”…

      So now they have it both in their own hands.

      1. I’m thinking that even if Senna and Heidfeld were to emerge from this weekend’s tests with similar lap times under similar fuel loads, Heidfeld would still be the safest choice for the seat. He’d be able to provide more valuable input development-wise, and would probably be more consistent in terms of regularly hauling in the points. That said, I’m not anti Senna. It would be cool to see how he performs in the cockpit of a top flight machine, but if I’m running the team, I’d have to go with Heidfeld.

        1. I agree with you schooner. When you have a young gun like Petrov you need a cool headed driver in the other car. Someone you can depend on to bring the car home and scor points. Nick is a very safe pair of hands. I think, if I’m not mistaken, that he has the record for consecutive finishes. I couldn’t in my right mind put Senna in the other car. Despite last year Senna is still an unkown quantity.

          1. Eric Boullier is that you?

    16. I’d really like to see Senna in the car, more so than Heidfeld, simply because I think it would be more interesting and it makes sense to develop new drivers. However, they’re not in a position where time is on their side to get the development out of Senna they want so Heidfeld is a wise and safe choice.

    17. You have a far greater chance of getting injured on a normal road in rush hour than in a rally (quick mental risk assesment tells me the crowd are the crazy ones). Looking at what happened in the accident highlights a problem with crash barrier design and layout, ie they are there for vechicles doing average speeds, they are not of the caliber of racing circuits and not built and layed out accordingly. This accident goes in the Massa and the spring unlucky catergory.

    18. Was looking forward to seeing who was better between Senna and Petrov. But we don’t know for sure yet, although it’s looking pretty positive for Nick.

    19. Common Boullier you need to give Senna his chance in a competitive car…Nick has plenty of years in F1, I mean common Boullier you literally said “Bruno Senna was yur guy in case something LIKE THIS!!! happened” I would really be disappointed seeing Nick there instead of Senna.

      1. Having Senna fill in for a race or two is different than a whole season. The game has changed massively for Renault; they just lost their experienced star driver. I agree that Senna needs to be given a chance as new driver development is crucial, but that’s what the #2 car is for. A newer driver is highly unlikely to be able to give the necessary feedback to point the team in the right direction with setup and develpment.

    20. UneedAFinn2Win
      10th February 2011, 20:03

      As for why not Senna, (or Grosjean): the car is not finished, heck, it’s barely started.
      They need a driver who can tell them what KERS or the ARW will do in terms of laptime and tyre degradation, how the “front” exhaust behaves. And that requires experience.

      Sucks to be Petrov now. Boullier has effectively dissed him and his abilities as anything else than a fat purse.

    21. Everybody is saying “Oh we want Kimi back, F1 will never be the same!” oh give it a rest. He doesn’t want to be in F1, plus he spat at Renault so I don’t see why they would have picked him even if he did want to come back.

    22. IMO Bruno doesn’t deserve a chance. He’s really shoved too little in his career. Just because his last name is Senna, doesn’t earn him the seat automatically.
      He will never be his GREAT uncle.
      And all Senna fanatics can dream another dream.

      Hell, we could have all the young Mansells, Prosts, Laudas, Piquets … F1 now. But it won’t be the 80’s again. Get real.


      1. People have been known to be sentimental about this matter, yes – but really, why be so negative?

    23. The first rule of racing will be very much in play at Renault “you must first beat your team mate”
      Petrov was not expected to beat Kubica but he will be expected to hold his own against Heidfeld or Sena.
      This could become a very slippery triangle indeed. I hope Sena gets an opportunity; Heidfeld has plenty with nothing to show for it.
      Get better soon Robert.

    24. Why does everyone slag off Heidfeld so much? He beat Kubica in three out of their four years as team mates! Ok so 2006 doesn’t really count but thats still two out of three.

      On a side note I just made a quick look to see what the odds were on Heidfeld winning the drivers championship. 25/1. What I found weird about that though is that its the same as Massa’s. Shows what people think of the way ferrari are gonna treat massa this year!

    25. rallying, karting.. and other activities – you cant avoid things & accidents you won’t/don’t know of. You cant blame Brundle also, it was just a comment out of concern for him.. having a car that may win the championship.. his commitments as a driver for a team.. and his health of course.

    26. Nice to hear that he is out of danger now.he is right as there is a lot of Petrol in Kubica & F1 isn’t a place where you can spend a lot of them that’s why he went for Rallying, that’s unfortunate what had happen to him. We can only pray for the best.

    27. I honestly think this will be the only ‘real’ shot that Bruno is ever going to get driving a proper F1 car that looks to have some potential this year. We still forget that back in the 2008 post season test he did for Honda when he came 0.3 off Jenson’s best time. And this will probably be the second time in his career where he might have to have to step aside for a more experience driver – I just feel for the poor kid! Just really hopes he goes well and give us all some faith in him. As for Heidfeld, he’s a safe bet for Renault. But if they want someone to develop the car you’d probably look to Pedro as he’s one of the few drivers (available) who’s tested a recent championship winning car..

    28. I agree with Boullier completely. You can’t wrap a driver in cotton wool nor can you watch them 24hrs a day seven days a week. Drivers have missed races due to injuries before, one of the most infamous being Juan Montoya’s 2005 ‘tennis’ injury for instance. At the end of last season, Mark Webber admitted to racing although injured due to a mountain bike accident, which some suggested at the time may have been responsible for his dip in form.
      Whatever side of the fence you are on in this debate, the fact remains that these men are by their very natures’ risk takers. They spend their entire lives pushing the envelope both in F1 and outside of F1.
      The sport lost Jim Clark back in 1968 whilst he was competing in an F2 race at Hockenheim. Poor old Mike Hawthorn was killed after losing control of his car on the Guilford bypass, as I said, as regrettable as these events are, these men do live very extreme lives.
      The one crumb of comfort from this I have is that Felipe Massa recovered to compete in F1 again, and I feel that Robert Kubica will do the same. Ofcourse this may make the teams think twice about allowing drivers to compete in other risky ventures away from F1, but it would be like Prohibition was to 1920’s America. Impossible to stop and pointless.


      Seems like he is more fired up then before.

    30. . Video from car drive on the track before Kubica, 0:52 spot where Robert crash.

    31. Please Dear GOD! Dear RENAULT&LOTUS&GENII&BOULLIER … we are everytin liked KIMI RAIKKONEN!!!

      WE are frends Mongolians !Amca Bataa Tuguu,Dorjoo,Amraa,Ugii Odnoo … evrybody My countrymans and !!! …PLEASE JUST one KIMI oKE !

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