Robert Kubica Refuses To Sign on the Dotted Line: Should He Stay At Renault?
The choice of team can often be a make or break decision for a Formula 1 driver.
On one end of the spectrum, you have the damaging decisions to avoid, such as Alonso’s destructive move to McLaren, or Zanardi’s ill-fated blip with Williams.
These left both drivers in a position of uncomfortability, and in the latter’s case resulted in the end of a career in Formula 1.
Yet, if you chose wisely you will reap the rewards. Michael Schumacher would not have become a seven time world champion if his career had not switched to a floundering Ferrari team.
Or at least you would think that is true.
Having an ounce of talent does of course help, and if you portray the ability to cause waves in a sea of competent drivers then you must put yourself in a position to capitalize on this talent.
Throughout his career thus far, Robert Kubica has become something of an enigma.
From his opening mediocrity at BMW Sauber his career was transformed following his sensational Canadian accident, which seemingly edged him into a flourish of results in 2008. He was firmly on the radar of all neutral spectators at this point.
Here was a man who could upset the form book. Here was a man worthy of a celebration.
His team was more intent on designing future cars, which sadly and consequentially scuppered the Polish drivers chances of continuing his glorious and consistent results.
He was left down and out, and with hardly anywhere to go at the end of the 2009 season.
Then after noticing his potential possibilities behind the wheel, Renault salvaged his career by taking him in. They themselves required a rejuvenation in the aftermath of their crash-gate scandal.
They were not to be disappointed.
Kubica re-emerged as one of the outstanding drivers of the current season, taking his arguably average Renault chassis to momentous and unexpected peaks.
Near flawless podiums in Australia and Monaco have thankfully overshadowed a continuation of the lack of winning ability that the Renault team has failed to subvert.
He is the golden boy once more. Unsurprisingly, this has not gone unnoticed by rival teams with Ferrari reportedly showing interest in acquiring the Pole’s credentials for next season.
And now we are left with Kubica announcing that he is yet to sign on the dotted line for Renault for 2011.
So can you blame him? After all a highly regarded potential champion needs a car equipped with the means to acquire a triumphant return.
If Renault wanted to keep a firm grip on Kubica then they must improve, of that there is no doubt.
Now Kubica has a choice. What benefits can he foresee if he were to stay at Renault?
Or would the grass be so much greener in another team, a team who could promise bigger and better things.
Staying at Renault
With teams such as Red Bull, McLaren, and Mercedes competing with closely matched pairings, Robert has found himself in a comfortable lead driver position.
Despite his teammate Petrov’s solid performance in Turkey, the Pole has instated himself comfortably as the runaway No. 1 for the French outfit.
With regular performances which have seen him penetrate the "big four" teams he is causing a stir. Only Adrian Sutil seems remotely close, as it is Kubica who is always reaching for the stars.
Therefore, a stay at Renault could see Kubica under no threat of relinquishing his dominant position.
Would you give up a position of such credible power? Especially after the demoralising scenes which were founded by the BMW team and both its drivers during the 2009 season.
The car is currently underwhelming and not deserving of such a wondrous talent.
But if your reputation stands in such high recognition as a result of comparative team mate performance then as an individual you can garner an illustrious history.
What we must also remember is that drivers in similar positions have thrust their teams further into the front of the pack.
Michael Schumacher was a stunning example of a driver who took Benetton out of the doldrums and elevated them into multiple and inspired victories.
Could Kubica do the same? Maybe.
If he were to stay at Renault, with Petrov as a teammate, you would expect that he would have it relatively easy. He could continue his leadership for a team who are a small fish in a big pond at this moment in time.
Petrov could show an improvement, making him worthy of a more equal in team battle, or maybe Renault could replace him with a more suitable second driver who is able from the offset to provide Kubica with a demanding opposition.
Whichever the occurrence, the consistent driver would expect more from a team who are proven champions.
What we have seen from Kubica is that in a team who is not expected to win but able to perform, he excels.
His consecutive points and podium finishes in the first half of 2008 warranted him an early championship lead. This was all done in a car that wasn't capable of winning multiple Grand Prix.
Instead, the team seemed content with being the best of the rest. Yet Kubica threw that idea out of the window and was rewarded justly.
Sadly when the chips were down so was Kubica. In a car that was far from competitive he faltered and faded into the scenery.
Yet what we have failed to see is the Pole in a car which is proven to lead a field. He has yet to drive behind the wheel of a car which is recognised and known to be the fasted on track.
This is a sad fact, given his gradually increasing trophy cabinet.
He is a driver who deserves at least one season of his career in the best of the best.
And you can imagine that his emergence in such a car could leave him streaks ahead of the rest of the pack. A title could come his way as easy as a moth to a flame.
So could a move to a team like Ferrari set up such a mouth watering scenario? The form book would say yes.
Despite Ferrari’s inconsistency of the last few years, as long as they afforded the Pole a good run of years at the team then the results could come.
Raikkonen, Massa and Alonso have all proven this by highlighting their talents in a car that forced damage limitation out of their main man Schumacher’s exit.
Kubica’s main challenges in a team able to be the quickest would be the expectations and also the teammate.
David Coulthard was a driver who could not cope with the pressure of winning a title. It resulted in a lack of consistency and victories and left him without a title to his name. Kubica does not want to full into the same trap.
In a teammate you know that he would also have to tackle a driver regarded as highly as himself. Unless he is fortunate enough to have a driver of Kovalainen’s average skill set to contend with.
If a move to Ferrari came into fruition the opposition would appear in the form of Alonso or Massa. Both are proven title contenders and of course one is a double World Champion. Not an easy task at all then!
So yes in a big team, Kubica would have some large shoes to fill, and some great drivers to compete against.
Should He Stay Or Should He Go?
It will be up to him to decide whether he will play it safe at Renault or move onto a challenge that many would react to in a rabbit in a headlights manner.
The "what if" question comes into play with many wondering whether Kubica will always be a nearly man.
Will he be remembered as a quick and competent under-performer and a driver unable or unwilling to drive a car worthy of him?
Stage fright does not appear to be a concept that Kubica is aware of. He is admirable in victory and enticing in performance. And this is good, this is very good.
So if nothing else we should urge him to consider a position of greater optimism, to a team where he can show the world that he is the strongest Polish driver ever to grace a race track.
If the choice is to move, then a new era may begin, a new champion may be born.
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