Renault team owner Gerard Lopez has revealed the marque again has the luxury of being able to pick and choose its second driver.
A year on from being embroiled in the ’crash-gate’ saga, Renault’s respectability has been restored by credible leadership off track and reasonable performances on it.
Lopez’s takeover at the end of last year via his Genii Capital investment company has provided a stable platform on which the team have built this season.
In contrast to last year when Renault scored a miserable 26 points, all courtesy of Fernando Alonso, this year they have almost double if you apply the old scoring system as their 127 points converts to 48.
Most of those have come from Robert Kubica, who earlier this season signed a contract extension, as team-mate Vitaly Petrov has rarely kept pace.
A question mark currently hangs over the Russian in his rookie year as to whether he will be retained, in particular as Lopez concedes Renault have a number of options open to them.
One of those is former champion Kimi Raikkonen, who is understood to have recently sounded out the team with regard to a potential comeback.
Given Renault’s standing in the eyes of the F1 world 12 months ago, their stock has clearly risen again, making them an attractive proposition.
“We’ve a lot of drivers that would like to drive for us,” Lopez told Press Association Sport.
“When you are lucky enough to have a seat nobody wanted last year and everybody wants this year, you take your time.”
Seemingly confirming Raikkonen’s interest, he added: “If we weren’t to keep Vitaly, we’ve options, both people who are in Formula One and people who left and would be happy to come back.
“But for now Vitaly is our second driver and we are trying to do everything we can to make sure he stays our second driver.”
Lopez concedes, though, Petrov hardly helped his cause with his 13th place in Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix, suggesting improvement is required if he is to remain on board.
“I doubt Monza is the place where he has done enough to justify his seat next year,” added Lopez.
“The three races before Monza he did what we expected him to do, but Monza is not a place where you can say he’s delivered.”
Despite Petrov’s Russian connections, Lopez is still waiting for that market to catch on to the 26-year-old and to Formula One as a sport.
Lopez maintains, though, Petrov’s potential marketability in such an untapped country will have no bearing on whether he is retained.
“He’s a good driver who comes with the added benefit of Russia,” said Petrov.
“Economically speaking, from a Russian perspective, we are in a key moment, trying to see if the Russian market is going to respond.
“But whether the market responds or not we still have to judge him as a driver. If the Russians put a lot of money in and he’s not a good driver then he won’t drive for us.
“The two things are completely disconnected for us. They are an added benefit, but not a reason to keep him or leave him.”