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Saturday, December 11, 2010
Synopsis: In recent years, Renault seemed to lack commitment to team ownership, in 2010 the company proved it, selling all but a 25 percent stake to Genii Capital. This could have been disastrous, but the new organization looks to have made the right moves in management structure, convinced Robert Kubica to honor his contract and finished easily as best of the rest. Still, it must have been a mixed emotion for Renault to watch a customer win the championship.
Highlight: Kubica. Fifth in the championship in a transitional season, 163 points, and three podiums was the direct result.
Lowlight: Renault made noise in the press over the summer it was talking to Kimi Raikkonen about a return to F1 to partner with Kubica. Publicly speaking about talks angered the Finn, who flatly rejected he was interested in driving for Renault and charged the team of dropping his name for its own purposes. Whether true or not, the team’s new management look clumsy and out of its element.
- Robert Kubica scored 136 of the team’s points, finished on the podium three times and suffered only three retirements. His only non-points finish was the opener. If you are keeping score at home, that’s 15 races in the points. With the exception of Fernando Alonso, maybe the best driver on the grid. Despite links to Ferrari, the Pole extended his Renault contract through 2012.
- Vitaly Petrov had a mixed debut for Renault. Russia’s first F1 driver was at a severe disadvantage with Kubica as a teammate, though he showed flashes of ability on occasion. His best race was Hungary, where he outqualified Kubica and finished fifth. Petrov only managed five points finishes in 2010, and management has warned it needs more commitment from the Russian if he is to keep his seat in 2011.
A look ahead: Renault sold it’s remaining stake to Proton, preferring to participate in F1 as an engine supplier. Renault will supply the engines and support while Proton gets a successful F1 organization as part of it’s strategy to market Lotus cars. It should be a good move for Proton if it steers clear of micromanagement. The team in Enstone has weathered many storms, consistently done more with less and won championships. Plus, in Robert Kubica, it has one of F1’s top talents. But the deal seemingly only makes sense for Proton if it gets to use the name, and whether this team will be known as Lotus Renault GP as hoped is a question for the courts. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six
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