Renault team principal Eric Boullier has indicated that the squad’s second driver might not be revealed until after the first round of 2010 tests have been in Valencia, in first week of February. This means that Robert Kubica, currently the only driver comitted to Renault, would handle testing duties by himself.
“It’s not decided yet, very frankly,” Boullier recently told Autosport regarding the Renault driver roster. “We are still looking at several drivers available on the market. Two of them are experienced, two of them are rookies.”
Boulliet admitted that the menu of available drivers was shrinking, and the team had fewer options than were available last summer, when the drivers’ market was still in flux. Most of the marquee names have have been snapped up by the major teams, leaving Renault little to choose from in terms of experience or quality.
“We are now the last established team [without two drivers] and the situation is very different than in July,” Boullier said, “when you could discuss with everybody. … Today we have a situation where there are not many drivers available on the market. I speak about drivers with Formula 1 experience and drivers who are rookies but successful enough and graduated enough to get into Formula 1. The key thing is that we do consider driver performance and driver development state.”
Boullier acknowledged that former Kubica team mate and BMW pilot Nick Heidfeld was one of the names under consideration. “It would be a lie to say ‘no,'” he said.
But would he want to pair Heidfeld with Kubica again? Heidfeld was Kubica’s team mate at BMW for three years. “Definitely it’s a different question because he has spent so many years with Robert,” said the Renault boss. “The question mark is if we want to put them together again or not. But he is on the list.”
Another question mark regarding driver selection is whether there would be a priority placed on drivers handled by the Gravity sports management company, which is owned by the Gerard Lopez, whose venture capital firm, Genii, also now owns a majority stake in the Renault team. Boullier himself is a former employee of Gravity.
Addressing this issue, Boullier said, “Some of my comments have been used in the press against Gravity. It would be crazy for me to give a privilege to Gravity drivers compared to some others. Being team principal of Renault F1 means that I have to protect the interests of Renault F1, not Gravity.”
Image by Klaus Nahr, licensed through Creative Commons.