Date: 29th December 2011 at 9:35am
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The loss of Robert Kubica to the Renault team in 2011 was the biggest challenge the team faced last season according to team principal Eric Boullier.

The Renault team failed to match its early season form throughout the whole of last year, with some experts pointing blame at the design of the car including the forward-facing exhaust layout which other teams did not implement.

But when Boullier was asked what was the ‘primary reason’ why the team struggled in 2011, he said the loss of experienced driver Robert Kubica, who was unable to drive in 2011 following a rally crash in February.

‘Robert, by far. By far because there was a direct sporting loss, which obviously was related to the speed, and was also a morale blow for the team and for everybody. Lotus [Renault] team boss Eric Boullier told Autosport Magazine.

‘But you had an indirect loss too – and this is one of the bigger values of Robert. It’s mental strength, and also the commitment from the team to make it good and better. And this… we don’t know how much it cost us, because maybe part of the development of the forward exhausts could have been done differently with the comments of Robert.’

Renault managed to get on the podium during the opening two Grand Prix’s of the season, but during the final few months of the year were struggling to even finish in the top ten.

But despite failing to fulfil the teams true potential due to the poor performance of the car and the team, Boullier insists that the team have developed and benefited from a season of struggle.

He concluded: ‘If the car had developed very well with Robert, then maybe we could have been chasing for the top three in the championship and we’d think, ‘Wow, we are in good shape.’ But, in fact, we would have missed a lot of things.

‘For me with this experience, it maybe looks like a disaster but it was great to be learning.’