Heidfeld to replace Kubica UPDATE #5 This rumor, as first reported by AR1.com, is now 'fact.' Lotus Renault have confirmed that Germany's Nick Heidfeld will replace the injured Robert Kubica in their driving line-up, starting with this week's pre-season test in Barcelona. Heidfeld said: "I would have liked to come back to Formula One in different circumstances, but I'm proud to have been given this chance.
"Everything has happened so quickly, but I've been very impressed by what I have seen so far in terms of the facilities and the dedication of the people at Enstone.
"I really enjoyed the test last week in Jerez and I've already settled in well with the guys at the track. I have a good feeling for the car, which is quite innovative. I'm extremely motivated and can't wait for the season to begin."
Renault team principal Eric Boullier said: "The team has been through a very difficult couple of weeks and we had to react quickly. We gave Nick a chance in Jerez last week and he really impressed us.
"He's quick, experienced and is very strong technically with his feedback and understanding of the car.
"We always said the priority was to have an experienced driver in the car and we feel he is the ideal man for the job. We are pleased to welcome Nick to the team and look forward to a strong start to the season with him and Vitaly in Bahrain." 02/14/11 As first told to you by AR1.com the day after Robert Kubica was injured, Renault is expected to announce on Monday that Nick Heidfeld has been selected as injured Robert Kubica's replacement for the start of the 2011 season.
Injured Pole Kubica will be recovering from injuries suffered in a rally crash for months at least, and his former BMW teammate Heidfeld impressed the Lotus-sponsored team during his audition for the seat at Jerez at the weekend.
According to Auto Motor und Sport, team boss Eric Boullier will decide on Monday whether to stick with the 33-year-old or test Pedro de la Rosa or Vitantonio Liuzzi in Barcelona.
"I have the feeling I have passed this test. I could do no more than my best," said Heidfeld, even though he played down the significance of topping the timesheet.
"Anyone can do that if they really want to, with little fuel and super soft tires," added the German.
He admitted that, after negotiating for the 2011 Mercedes test seat or a switch to DTM, benefitting from the ill fortune of a friend is a "funny feeling".
"You know very well that someone's bad luck might turn out well for you," said Heidfeld, "and obviously I'd like to come back in different circumstances.
"But it's a chance and you have to use it," he insisted.
"I've sent Robert a text message and I will visit him in hospital, but I am hearing that his condition is improving every day.
"You can tell he is very popular here and is the clear number one. I hope he can come back as fast as possible.
"By the way, it was Renault who called me and not the other way around," Heidfeld said.
One of his tasks for this week is to apply for the renewal of his super license.
"Before, it was not high on my agenda!" he laughed.
Force India driver Adrian Sutil thinks Heidfeld is the best man for the job.
"He is experienced and in the past he drove against Kubica on the same level. Robert was the number one (at Renault) and now Renault need a new one," he told spox.com.
De la Rosa told Catalan television TV3 that Heidfeld "is in pole position" for Kubica's seat.
"I talked a little with Pedro de la Rosa," Boullier admitted, "but after the evaluation with Nick Heidfeld we'll see if we need to go further with those discussions or not."02/10/11
It appears we will make this rumor, broke by AR1.com on Monday, 'fact' before much longer. Nick Heidfeld has been selected to drive in injured Robert Kubica's place this season, according to a German report. Lotus-sponsored Renault has already announced that German Heidfeld, 33, will be testing at Jerez this weekend, but only as "a potential replacement" for car number 9. But the German newspaper Bild-Zeitung claims grand prix veteran Heidfeld will also be racing in March and beyond.
|Nick Heidfeld, not Bruno Senna, to replace Kubica according to AR1.com sources|
The newspaper said he has had a seat fitting for the R31 at Enstone.
A Renault source told Bild: "(Vitaly) Petrov is relatively inexperienced. In order to exhaust the full potential of the car, we definitely need a strong and experienced man.
"And the team has already been talking with Heidfeld in the past years," added the source.
Indeed, Heidfeld was a contender for the race seat alongside Kubica this year, as Renault earlier considered ousting Petrov.
But for the moment, Renault is not confirming the news.
A spokesman told DPA news agency that it would be "inappropriate" to take a decision "while Kubica is still in intensive care".
And it is still rumored that Tonio Liuzzi could be called up for an evaluation for the Barcelona test.
"We must wait for the Jerez tests now, and thankfully the Barcelona ones too," confirmed team owner Gerard Lopez.
Referring to Heidfeld specifically, he added: "We all know that Nick is rather good, but we don't know what level he is in now, we don't know how he does with our car.
"Same goes for Vitantonio Liuzzi, same goes - I don't know - for Bruno Senna, who last year was in a team with a car that could do nothing," said Lopez.
Nico Hulkenberg's manager Willi Weber, however, is convinced: "Nick Heidfeld is going to race," he is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.02/09/11 As first reported right here at AutoRacing1.com, Nick Heidfeld will test Renault's new R31 car at Jerez this week and he has been confirmed by the team to be the leading candidate to replace the injured Kubica..
It had been reported by AR1.com that the 33-year-old German, who had yet to secure a role in F1 for the 2011 season, was a leading contender to replace his injured former BMW teammate Robert Kubica.
With Pole Kubica in an Italian hospital with multiple injuries following a rally crash, another change to Renault's Jerez test schedule is that reserve driver Bruno Senna will be testing this week.
Vitaly Petrov will drive on Thursday and Friday, before Heidfeld and Senna get mileage on the next two days.
"The exact running order for the weekend will be confirmed on Friday evening," said the Lotus-sponsored team in a statement.
Renault clarified that Heidfeld, with more than 170 grands prix under his belt but no wins, has not yet been definitely appointed as Kubica's substitute but is the leading candidate to replace Robert Kubica, his former BMW Sauber teammate.
Instead, the team's official word for now is it will "evaluate Nick Heidfeld, who is a potential replacement for Robert Kubica as a race driver". 02/08/11 (GMM) Nick Heidfeld's manager on Tuesday refused to confirm speculation the German driver is a candidate to replace the injured Robert Kubica in 2011.
Vitaly Petrov, after visiting his regular Polish teammate in hospital, named veteran Heidfeld alongside Bruno Senna and Tonio Liuzzi as the leading contenders to race in Kubica's place this year.
"With respect for Robert, we believe it is currently not appropriate to speculate," Heidfeld's manager Andre Theuerzeit told the German news agency SID.
33-year-old German Heidfeld, with more than 170 grands prix under his belt, was Kubica's teammate at BMW between 2006 and 2009.02/08/11 According to AR1.com inside sources the Lotus Renault F1 team will test German Nick Heidfeld in Jerez, and assuming he is not too rusty, they will secure his services to replace the injured Robert Kubica.
Although Bruno Senna is the team's official reserve driver, he simply is not fast enough and is really only in F1 because his last name draws sponsor money.
The team feels they need a driver of the caliber of Heidfeld who does not crash often and can win if the car is capable of it. He is a proven commodity who is not already tied up with a contract elsewhere in racing, such as Raikkonen with dangerous rally racing.