The Renault plot thickens….
So, great news! Renault has a new sponsor for their Formula one team – which is great news for any team, however, it isn’t as simple as it looks, because you may well know that there is much debate going on within Renault and by the media as to who is going to get the second race seat; Former world champion Kimi Raikkonen, or Russian rookie Vitaly Petrov.
Renault have stated that the decision will ultimately be made from looking at the teams financial security – they have two drivers offering themselves up – one is very good and also very expensive, and one is not soo good and not so expensive. I think many people who have just read this will think ‘Oh great! Kimi is coming back!’, whether the comment may be made exicitedly or sarcasticly, it doesn’t matter, because what team who want to be among the best whould choose a not-great driver over a former world champion and renoundly excellent driver?
Well actually, its not a simple as that, because the sponsor is a Russian Shipyard from Petrov’s hometown of Vyborg. Now you see why it is complicated. The obvious intent here is that the Russians are buying Petrov’s Formula One contract with Renault for him – they are currently sponsoring him and the teams cars for the last five races of the season, and will obviously extend the contract if it means keeping him on. Not only this, but the team are already sponsored by Russian car manufacturer Lada.
This is understandable – Russia is a fast rising economic power and Petrov is the first Formula One driver to come from Russia. Back home he is known as the ‘Vyborg Rocket’ and has massively increased intrest in the sport from Russia – potentially another 140 million supporters of the sport, which has obvious benefits for the sport. He has also been a front runner for a potential Russian Grand Prix around the streets of Moscow, and loosing him could mean the loss of a potential new GP.
But even if loosing him is costly to the sport, Kimi Raikkonen is a VERY attractive driver. Renault even admitted they were ‘flattered’ by his offer, but said that ultimately, it was the financial side of things that would make the decision and that Petrov will be the number one concern for the team.
It has been definitely confirmed Kimi has approached the team, and I really don’t see how they can pass on the opportunity. There is potential for Petrov at other teams, btu as to whether they will take him, it is unknown. Currently, there are seats available at Hispania and Lotus, and there is a seat available at Force India, Mercedes, Sauber, Virgin and Williams, as well as the seat at Renault, so there is potential for him at another team, and he has been potentially linked with a move to Lotus is Kimi get a seat at Renault, with rumors of the team having hinted they would offer a seat if Kimi returned, although of course, this is mere speculation for the moment.
I think this only something we are going to know in due course and attention.