Double Blow For Renault As Raikkonen Rules Out Drive and Bob Bell Resigns
The Renault F1 Team suffered a double blow today as Kimi Raikkonen ruled out driving for the Enstone based team, and managing director Bob Bell resigned.
There had been much speculation linking the 2007 World Champion, Kimi Raikkonen, with a race seat at Renault. The team are looking to change second drivers for the 2011 season, and Raikkonen had allegedly been in contact with the team. He provided a big marketing capital for the squad which is still recovering from the crash-gate scandal that nearly sent it out of business in 2008/9.
Raikkonen however declared that he had never spoken to Renault or Eric Boulier, and indeed had absolutely no intentions of joining Renault in F1 next year. He did not say he wouldn’t be driving in F1 however, although we can safely assume that he will be competing with Citroen Red Bull once again as there are no other top level race seats on offer at this time.
Speaking to Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat, Raikkonen said: “I am very disappointed with how they have used my name for their own marketing. I have never even seriously considered driving for Renault, and I can assure you that I am 100 per cent sure that I will not drive for Renault next season.”
It leaves the door wide open for him to race again in 2012 though, as we speculated some months ago that the Finn was being lined up to replace Mark Webber at Red Bull from that season.
A second blow for Renault came this morning when managing director Bob Bell announced that he would be resigning from his post.
Bell had been with the team since it was known as Benetton in 1997. He briefly moved to Jordan, before returning in 2002 when Renault bought the team and turned it into a factory based operation. In a variance of roles he helped guide Fernando Alonso to two world championships, and countless race wins. He became team principal and managing director, steering the team at the end of last season when Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds were banned from F1 for their roles in Crash-Gate.
Eric Boullier now takes on the role of managing director alongside his normal team principal position.
“We would like to thank Bob Bell for his contribution to the performance of the team and for helping see us through a period of transition since Genii Capital became a shareholder in the Renault F1 team,” Team chariman Gerard Lopez said.
“We are entrusting the post of managing director to Eric Boullier and we have every confidence that, under his leadership, we will achieve our racing objectives.
“Throughout the 2010 season, we have been assessing what is required to continue improving our level of competitiveness and we believe we are well positioned for the challenges ahead.”