Team Renault have confirmed that they will be joined by BMW driver Robert Kubica in 2010. The move had been suspected since current Renault pilot Fernando Alonso announced his move to Ferrari for next year. It was thought that Alonso’s move would start a chain reaction in this year’s drivers’ market shuffle. Kubica’s move is the first driver change to be announced since Alonso and Ferrari announced their deal, but more teams should reveal their upcoming lineups before season’s end.
Kubica had been approached by several teams, including Williams and Toyota, once it had been announced that BMW would withdraw from Formula 1 next year, but Kubica had made it plain, after his BMW experience, that he wanted to move to a team committed to a long-term tenure in the sport. While there have been rumors that Renault might go the way of BMW and Honda (i.e. sudden exit, stage left), especially in the wake of the Crashgate scandal, it is clear that Renault have reassured Kubica of their intentions to remain in Formula 1.
As reported in The Guardian, Bob Bell, who recently replaced the disgraced Flavio Briatore as team principal, welcomed Kubica by saying, “He is one of the most naturally talented drivers of his generation and it is great to have him next season. Renault has high ambitions and hopes for the future of the team and we feel that Robert can play a big role in fulfilling them. We are very excited to have signed Robert, ever since he made his Grand Prix debut in 2006, he has been on our radar.”
Kubica returned the compliment, saying, “I share with Renault a strong winning mentality and feel comfortable with their friendly and open attitude. I am very happy I will be joining them for the 2010 season. I feel I have a special connection with this team because in 2005 I won the World Series by Renault. This gave me the chance to test with the team in Barcelona, which led to my debut in Formula 1.”
Although Kubica mounted an impressive challenge for the title in 2008, winning the Canadian Grand Prix, and finishing third in the overall point standings, 2009 has been a dismal year for him. BMW failed to come to terms with the design changes mandated by this year’s technical rules, and their car has been uncompetitive all season. Kubica is currently 14th in the standings, with only 9 points. Renault has also been in the doldrums since the beginning of 2007, and clearly Kubica is taking it on faith that they can return to the status they enjoyed during the glory years of 2005 and 2006, when Fernando Alonso won his back-to-back championships with the team. Only time will tell.
Image by Vince Pettit, licensed through Creative Commons.