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Grosjean top of Renault list to replace Kubica

ESPNF1 Staff
November 18, 2011 « Hamilton 'determined' to win in Brazil | Boullier says Petrov incident is closed »
Eric Boullier is also Romain Grosjean's manager © Sutton Images

Eric Boullier has confirmed that Romain Grosjean is the prime candidate to replace Robert Kubica if the latter does not return to drive for Renault next season.

Grosjean comfortably won the GP2 championship this season, and impressed on his FP1 appearance in Abu Dhabi as he was quicker than Vitaly Petrov in the other Renault. With a potential return for Kubica in 2012 growing more and more unlikely with each passing week, a seat could be available for Grosjean to return to the team he drove for in 2009.

"He is part of the plan," Boullier said. "We would like to have him in the car if Robert cannot come back. It is true that in 2009 he was not ready to be in Formula One and he clearly burnt himself. Even so his performance was quite good - he was only three-tenths off the pace of Fernando even though the car was not very good at that time, which makes it even more difficult for a young driver to step into F1. When he runs on Fridays he shows that he can deliver and gives good feedback. Clearly the guy has talent and everybody is convinced about that. It is my job to make him ready to step in."

When directly asked if Grosjean would be in line for the seat if Kubica doesn't come back Boullier replied: "Yes, yes, and I have not been hiding this fact for weeks, months even. So if Robert doesn't come back, he is definitely one at the top of the list."

After saying that his aim was to get "two big names" in the car by 2014, Boullier downplayed the chances of making a high-profile signing for next season.

"2012 we know will be another year for rebuilding the team and so we are not in the position to attract big names now. And by the way, the driver market is closed anyway for 2012 so our priority is not to have a big name in the car but to have a fast car which can then be given to a big name to win races. We should do it in this order and not the other way around - even though I would agree that a big name would help to make the car better, definitely."

Boullier was also asked about Kimi Raikkonen, and despite not naming him as a candidate for a seat he did admit there had been contact with Raikkonen's representatives.

"I have just explained how we want to go about our driver line-up for next season. But yes, there has been contact - look at this call (Boullier holds up his mobile phone) - this was from his manager."