Welcome to this week’s Scrutineering Bay, dedicated to dissecting the in’s and out’s of all the hot topics of Formula One!

As with most stories this week, the question is themed around everyone’s favourite Polish speedster (and Badger’s Top Dog of 2010) Robert Kubica, or as he’s affectionately known in the Sett, Bobby K. After his accident in the Italian mountains he’s been on the minds of all the writers here, so we’ve decided to put our thoughts across about why Renault let their star driver on gravel instead of tarmac in the first place;

“Should Bobby K have gone rallying?”

This week’s participants include Graham Moggipaldi, myself Craig Normansell, and starting up the discussion, Benson Jammichello:

I’m going to take a slightly different tack on all of this. My main confusion with the situation is why Robert Kubica wasn’t contractually outlawed from undertaking such side projects? Quite apart from the rights and wrongs of the situation and the fact that fans obviously like it when their racers hark back to the more daring chancers of yesteryear, it’s just silly not to have it as part of the terms of his employment.

Think about it – Renault have invested millions of pounds in employing Robert Kubica as a driver. They’ve got his input for the car, presumably crafted it to his taste, gained sponsorship on the back of his success last year and are one of the top teams in the sport. He’s too important to let him gallivant off and do things like this.

Now they’re left with Vitaly Petrov (who might turn out to be brilliant, but we doubt it) and probably Nick Heidfeld, who’s very good and reliable (and probably the best replacement driver they’ll ever find) but isn’t Robert Kubica. Lest we forget, he comprehensively out drove his car last season and was generally brilliant.

Renault have only themselves to blame. Perhaps it’s possible this is a consequence of Robert being bigger than the team? Do they need him more than he needs them…?

Benson’s stance is a good one; Renault is a race team and Kubica is a key part of that. Why risk him outside of F1 season when that’s the ultimate goal? Up next is Graham:

One of the great things about the past is that you always know what you should have done. The bad thing is that you can’t do anything about it. I’m sure Renault, their fans and the entire population of Poland wish they could tell Bobby K not to go rallying, so in many ways the answer to this one is an obvious ‘no, he shouldn’t have’.

However, what is equally clear is that many of the characteristics which make him such a successful and popular driver are exactly why he did go rally driving – he is everything we all love in a driver: aggressive, risk-taking and a motorsport fanatic. If he hadn’t had that terrible crash, everyone would have put the whole thing down as yet another reason why Kubica was Badger’s Top Dog last season, but he did and so we’re left with wondering what would have been every time we watch Petrov and (probably) Heidfeld.

So, to sum up, he probably shouldn’t have done, but if he hadn’t we wouldn’t love him as much as we do. Muzykom szybkiego, Bobby K.

Graham surmises that Kubica needs to be on the limit to be who he is; without it, he’s the same as every other driver out there. It’s a case of hindsight being a wonderful thing, too. If anyone and translate the Polish at the end as well that would be great!

Finally, I chip in with my thoughts:

It is a shame what has happened to Robert Kubica, he’s not only a great person but also is a pure driver. With the powers that be deciding that testing should be limited, the only running a driver gets is for three days every other weekend for only a few months a year. When you’re as addicted to honing your craft as Bobby K is, this just isn’t enough. What’s the difference between rallying and the annual Race of Champions? When you’re driving at speed, the dangers are all the same.

Renault did the right thing in letting him rally. It’s refreshing to see a team not transcend what they are in the sport and taking a more business like stance. Yes, there’s alot more money around than 30 years ago, but it harks back the days of Graham Hill and Jim Clark who drove to make extra cash as well as do what they love. Eric Boullier said himself that they let Kubica do it to stop him from climbing the walls!

Here’s to a speedy recovery Bobby K, the grid won’t be the same without you.

The problem with modern day Grand Prix drivers is that the sport has evolved into a much more business type entity. With the pressure of sponsors meaning success has to be achieved, a driver is bubble-wrapped to make sure they are as fresh and ready for each race. We in the Sett are slightly divided in the fact that the Pole should or shouldn’t have been in the car in the first place, but we send our best wishes and hope to see him back behind the wheel of a Formula One car sooner rather than later.

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