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25 May 2010 13:32
Two years ago, Eric Boullier was the head of the French team contesting A1GP’s doomed series and Robert Kubica was starring for the similarly short-lived BMW team in Formula One.
Boullier escaped the wreckage of the liquidated self-styled ‘World Cup of Motorsport’ and this year, in the wake of the Singapore ‘crash-gate’ scandal that left them devastated he has taken over as boss of the recovering and resurgent Renault F1 team.
Kubica claimed his only Grand Prix win to date in Canada in the high summer of 2008, before the BMW team reacted to the world-wide economic crisis by pulling out of F1—and this year he, too, has found refuge and regained his verve at Renault.
Indeed, after five races this year, he has surprised many by registering two impressive podium finishes for the un-fancied Luxembourg-owned Anglo-French team and collecting enough points to be among the title race leaders.
Last weekend, in Monte Carlo, he finished an excellent third in the Monaco Grand Prix behind the two Red Bulls of Australian Mark Webber and German Sebastian Vettel.
It was a sumptuous performance for him and Renault to leave Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes trailing in his wake—and no surprise afterwards that the speculation linking Kubica with a seat alongside his close friend and poker partner Fernando Alonso at Ferrari next year.
Boullier, however, has other ideas about that. Indeed, the Renault chief believes that even if the scarlet scuderia offer Kubica a seat, he will turn in down in favour of having the Renault team built around him for the next few years.
At 25, and blessed with a mature head on his young shoulders, he knows he has time on his side - and that a move to Italy might be more perilous than it looks.
It is the same policy, in fact, that the 28-year-old Spaniard Alonso himself adopted earlier in his career when he was with the then French-owned outfit, a strategy that brought him two world titles.
Kubica is mindful of that and understands that this Renault team is packed with experienced and determined members fired by the motivation to regain their former ascendant position in the sport.
“I feel comfortable in the team and it is going very well, we have built a good feeling and we are going in the right direction,” he said.
“When you join a new team, you try to create a good atmosphere with the engineers, the mechanics in the workshop and at the race track and I think that is normal.
“For me, it is going very well and we have a good atmosphere for work—this is important for the relationship and makes good respect for each other.
“Our result in Monaco was very good not only for me but for the whole team and it proves what we are doing and what we can do together.”
Few expected Renault to break into the dominance of the ‘big four’ top teams—Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes—but the Kubica-inspired outfit have shown it can be done and Bouillier has no intention of changing that.
Kubica said: “For him, he is working very well with the team and he likes the team spirit as well.
“I think the new packages we plan to bring and the ambitions we have for the future.
he likes that ...
Boullier added that he felt one of the keys to Renault’s success this season has been the strong chemistry between the team and driver with each thriving off the other’s attitude.
“That is the key thing in racing,” he said. “Obviously back in the old days, Alonso was fitting well with the team and it is the same thing we want now. It is a key that the driver fits well with the team.—AFP
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