I have been very happy out of what Eric Boullier has put on display during the Kimi Raikkonen potential of 2011. We all know that now it is not going to happen, but what was most shocking was Kimi’s childish reply to the team. Earlier this week we had mentioned Kimi was not going to Renault and was very upset with the Renault team boss for even using his name. He accused Boullier and Renault of using his image to further the team commercially. I was shocked at the response due to the fact that it was Kimi’s management that went to Renault over this, not the other way around.
Eric Boullier has shown me that my faith in his cautious and serious approach to the sport of F1 was not ill founded. He has been a class act the whole process and has never made an announcement that he could not keep. He informed Kimi’s folks that Petrov was still in the mix and needing evaluated before moving forward. No promises made to a former champion. I had mentioned last week that Eric had every right to be cautious with a lazy driver like Raikkonen poking his nose in the door. Raikkonen has looked terrible this year in the WRC and is pretty much on form with his 08/09 Formula 1 form. Why would Eric want to take a chance on a driver like that without looking at his options? While I can understand that Kimi perhaps would not like to race with the French outfit, I think his snapping back at Boullier and Renault is a little bit childish and further reason why I would not hire him even if he wanted to come over.
As I had mentioned before, Renault has been very impressive this year. Eric and his crew have had a very limited budget and made what was a joke into a once again respectable Formula 1 program. They have been very transparent with the media in their dealings and never misguided with their statements. Robert Kubica is obviously going nowhere, but young Petrov has been no slouch recently. While he did wad a bunch of cars up early, his racecraft has improved dramatically. Whether or not he is a solid #2 fit is not my decision and one that must be made by Renault. However, I think that anybody they can muster would be an upgrade.
While I have been harsh on Kimi’s rally performance this year, I think the Finn should remain in the series. As Sebastien Loeb said earlier in the year, just getting the notes together for these events is a one year process. Look at Ken Block, he rallies in the states every year and had massive troubles this year. I think the environment is right for Kimi and one that he could benefit to stay in. The WRC does not need Raikkonen by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a situation that I think benefits him the most in the long run.