Renault’s Team Principal, Eric Boullier, has said he wants to meet face-to-face with Kimi Räikkönen to determine the Finn’s true motives for wanting to return to the Formula 1 stage.
As was revealed after the Italian Grand Prix, Räikkönen approached the French squad to discuss the possibility of driving for the squad in 2011, with the exiled former World Champion seemingly keen to turn his back on rallying after a single season in the World Rally Championship with Citroen.
But with the team seemingly keen on retaining the services of its current number-two driver, Vitaly Petrov – provided of course he can show improved form for the rest of the season – it will still weigh up Räikkönen’s expression of interest.
However, perhaps sensing some cynical sentiment that the Finn is simply interested in a return to help supplement his income, Boullier has said he wants to meet with Räikkönen to gauge if he is fully motivated for a return to an outfit ambitious on making its return to the winners’ circle.
And with the deadline to make a decision on the 2011 partner for Robert Kubica drawing ever nearer, Boullier told AUTOSPORT: “We really want to consider all of the options.”
The potentially-vacant Renault seat has seemingly generated plenty of interest among other drivers, with the likes of Adrian Sutil and Timo Glock linked as other possible candidates. However, Boullier has seemingly already started to rule out some candidates, although he wasn’t about to divulge just whom.
“I have said many times that I want to meet with him first before we do anything more. I want to understand more about his wish to come back.”
When asked about Petrov’s prospects – on the back of the Russian making another embarrassing mistake in qualifying – Boullier conceded that the rookie driver still needed more time.
“It is still frustrating because he keeps doing mistakes,” Boullier answered. “We put a lot of pressure on him and definitely he was not on the pace on Friday but he was there on Saturday.”
Petrov’s arrival was hoped to herald an influx of sponsors from his homeland, and commercial factors would surely play on Boullier’s mind in reconsidering his young charge.
No so, says the Frenchman.
“It is definitely not a money issue. It is only the understanding for him to fit in F1 – and for us to give as much support as we need to give him to make sure he could be, shall I say, a decent second driver to score points next year.
“If Robert is fighting like now for fifth position and Petrov can finish seventh or eighth then that is fine. This is what we expect from a young driver. And it means his learning curve is still improving. If he is already at the limit, then it is a different matter.”