Mike Stevens | Dec 12, 2011
  • Boullier not sure Kubica has Lotus future
  • Lotus confirms Grosjean as Raikkonen's teammate
  • Sutil admits eye on second Williams seat
  • Horner talks peace ahead of Monday FOTA meeting
 

Boullier not sure Kubica has Lotus future

Team boss Eric Boullier shrugged his shoulders and answered "I don't know" when asked if Robert Kubica has a future with Lotus.

The team, formerly branded Renault, has been waiting throughout 2011 for Kubica to recover from serious injuries sustained in a pre-season rally crash.

But there have been rumours of ructions between the team and the driver's management camps - the latest quarrel being the wording of a statement announcing that Kubica is not ready to immediately return in 2012.

The BBC quotes Boullier as describing the status of the relationship as at "point zero".

In the meantime, Lotus has signed new GP2 champion Romain Grosjean to be 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen's full-time teammate next season.

"We have been waiting for Robert to understand his plans," said Boullier. "If we can help him get in back in F1 we will, but we have signed our drivers for next year and we want to stick with them."

The Frenchman also indicated that Lotus will only release test cars and make available the team's simulator for Kubica if the 27-year-old - who has been linked with Red Bull and Ferrari - commits for the "long term".

Another former Renault/Lotus driver with an uncertain future after the Grosjean signing is Bruno Senna. One possibility for him is a return to his early 2011 role as reserve driver.

Asked about his plans for 2012, the Brazilian told the Norfolk Advertiser: "I don't know yet - I'm still working on next season, but I think it's looking much better than last season at this same time and let's hope we can have good news."

(GMM)

 

Lotus confirms Grosjean as Raikkonen's teammate

As predicted by international publications ahead of the official announcement, Lotus on Friday confirmed Romain Grosjean as Kimi Raikkonen's teammate for the 2012 season.

The Enstone-based team said the announcement was made in conjunction with Total, the French multinational oil company and existing team sponsor.

"The two companies (Lotus and Total) are also pleased to confirm that they have renewed their sponsorship agreement for another year," read a media statement.

Genii-managed and Total-backed Grosjean, 25 years old and the new GP2 champion, was the team's reserve driver in 2011.

"Returning to Enstone as a race driver feels like coming home," said the Swiss-born French driver, who made his troubled grand prix debut alongside Fernando Alonso amid the 'crashgate' scandal in 2009.

"Total is delighted to give the young talented French driver... the opportunity to fulfil his dream," said Total's senior vice president corporate communications Jacques-Emmanuel Saulnier.

The media statement also seemed to confirmed media reports' claims earlier that Frenchman Eric Boullier is staying put as team boss.

"I would like to thank Vitaly Petrov and Bruno Senna for their contribution to the team's performance this year and I wish them all the best for the future," he is quoted as saying.

A replacement for Grosjean as reserve driver was not named.

(GMM)

 

Sutil admits eye on second Williams seat

Adrian Sutil has a firm eye on Williams as F1's driver line-up for 2012 takes more shape.

On Friday, one of the German's potential options for next year - the vacant Lotus seat alongside Kimi Raikkonen - was filled by new GP2 champion Romain Grosjean.

Sutil is expected to lose his Force India seat to Nico Hulkenberg, so the team veteran is now hoping for a switch to Williams.

"Yes, certainly there has been talks with several teams for quite some time, but nothing is signed," the 28-year-old was quoted as saying on Friday by Germany's speed-magazin.de.

Sutil, with a few million euro in Medion sponsorship backing, finally confirmed his reported link with Williams, who are still contemplating replacing Rubens Barrichello.

"Williams is certainly one of the teams that have a seat. Unfortunately I can't say anything about the discussions to date.

"But we hope that there is a decision by mid-December," he said.

Specifically, December 15 has been the date officially earmarked by Force India boss Vijay Mallya, although it is believed Sutil has already been told that he is definitely on the market.

Recently, he has sounded frustrated that, despite struggling alongside rookie teammate Paul di Resta early in 2011, it has escaped the notice of many that he had a very good finish to the season.

"Yes, in the end I beat Paul in all areas, but it was hard work," said Sutil. "He did a great job and challenged me throughout the year.

"Whether he is set (to stay at Force India) or not, I can not say - I don't know about Paul's contract," he insisted.

(GMM)

 

Horner talks peace ahead of Monday FOTA meeting

Red Bull has not ruled out patching up its off-track quarrel with rival F1 teams.

The reigning and back-to-back world champions have pulled out of the F1 teams' alliance FOTA, essentially over the debate about the gentleman's cost-limiting 'resource restriction agreement'.

Subsequent meetings have taken place in the absence of Red Bull and fellow new non-FOTA members Ferrari, Ferrari-powered Sauber and Red Bull junior team Toro Rosso, indicating a worrying political split ahead of the crucial negotiations for the next Concorde Agreement.

But team boss Christian Horner has revealed that Red Bull officials will meet with key FOTA members on Monday.

"Nothing's ever set in stone but for the time being we feel it's right to step out of FOTA," he is quoted by the Associated Press.

It has been rumoured that Red Bull baulked at moves to further limit the scope of aerodynamic development, whilst rival carmaker-linked teams remain less limited on engines.

"There has to be a willingness to recognise this and then progress can be made," Horner, speaking at Red Bull's title celebratory event in Milton-Keynes, is quoted by the Guardian.

He said Ferrari and Red Bull's withdrawal from FOTA "has stimulated discussion and that can lead to something positive. There is a way back for all of us"

(GMM)

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