Thursday, 3 December 2009

The drive to survive

It’s interesting how a team’s fortunes can change so quickly. Renault are pretty much deciding their future in F1 as I write this, while Sauber’s is safe and secure. The long-awaiting announcement that they would take the 13th spot on the entry list for the 2010 F1 season was a big relief to all those concern with the Hinwil outfit’s future. After a false takeover from Qadbak, which turned out to be nothing but a plot to exploit the funding the team would receive from the FIA due to their championship position from 2009. But Peter Sauber rescued his team from the brink of extinction and now all is well.

Meanwhile over in France, there is talk that David Richards of Prodrive is looking to buy out Renault’s F1 team. There were rumours a few months ago that Richards would take over as team principal after Briatore and Symonds were both exiled from the team after the Crashgate scandal involving Piquet’s accident at Singapore last year. There was also talk of 4 times world champion Alain Prost would step in as a team advisor. But those rumours quickly faded into the background and into obscurity.

Now, however, Richards’ name has come back into the fray. If it does happen, I couldn't think of anyone better to take control of an F1 team. The man oversees proceedings for the WRC, has looked after Subaru’s World Rally Team, currently campaigns Aston Martin-Lola’s in the LMS and at Le Mans, not forgetting his past exploits with the team when it was Benetton and also with BAR. Oh, and he’s overseen Ford’s works effort in the Australian V8 Supercar Championship.

You can’t deny the guy’s done the rounds when it comes to looking after race teams. With him at the head of the team, should it be re-branded Prodrive, or Aston Martin as has been touted, it hopefully shouldn’t be too much of a task to help the Enstone outfit be on the pace of the frontrunners once again. But there is one question on people’s lips – what of Kubica.

Currently, he has a contract with Renault. But if they decide to sell up to Richards and it becomes Prodrive, where would they both stand regarding his position in the team? Would he still stay firm and race for them? Will he go to another team? It has been rumoured that Mercedes would be his best bet since the second seat alongside Rosberg is yet to be announced. There are many rumours flying around who is going to get that drive. So far, Kubica’s teammate from the past 3 and a bit seasons, Nick Heidfeld, has been tipped as favourite, although talk of Michael Schumacher making a surprise return with a manufacturer he once raced sportscars for has been rife, although it has trailed off recently.

Whatever happens, I’m sure it will all come good in the end. Just like Sauber, who have an engine supply from Ferrari and a team in charge by its namesake once again, things are getting back to how they used to be. Something I’m all for.