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Senna and Heidfeld to try out as Kubica replacement
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Senna and Heidfeld to try out as Kubica replacement
Posted By: James Allen  |  09 Feb 2011   |  9:07 pm GMT  |  201 comments

Renault has issued a statement tonight saying that both Bruno Senna and Nick Heidfeld will be given a chance to test the new car at this weekend’s Jerez test with a view to replacing team leader Robert Kubica, badly injured in a rally accident on Sunday.

“Vitaly (Petrov) will drive the R31 on Thursday and Friday, as originally scheduled. For Saturday and Sunday, the team will give mileage to Bruno Senna and will also evaluate Nick Heidfeld, who is a potential replacement for Robert Kubica as a race driver. The exact running order for the weekend will be confirmed on Friday evening, ” said the statement.

Team principal Eric Boullier said yesterday that “we need to understand if we are making a choice for short or long term, but we are coming around to thinking the latter.”

Heidfeld gets ready (Darren Heath)


Heidfeld represents a solid choice. He is very experienced, strong technically and has a lot of experience of the Pirelli tyres as he is the original official tester for the Italian marque. Senna did not really get a chance to show what he can do in last year’s Hispania and it would be good for him to get a chance. But with Petrov still learning the ropes in the other car, if the team is thinking about a driver to get a minimum of 150 points on the board with what looks like a quick car this year then they may vote for Heidfeld.

Kubica continues to please the medics treating him in Italy. He has moved the fingers of his right hand, partially severed in two places in the horrific crash. But it will be a week before doctors will know whether the blood supply is secure and the hand will survive. You get the feeling though that Kubica will recover as fast as it’s possible to.

As his friend and doctor Riccardo Ceccarelli said, “Two days ago we were praying for him to live, now we are beginning to dream.”

According to stories in the Gazzetta dello Sport, Kubica was joking with Boullier yesterday saying that he is indestructable, “You know I’m a robot?” he joked with his team boss. Meanwhile Petrov brought him a spring loaded hand strengthener.

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201 Comments
  1. Tim. says:

    Nick has had to many chances and not produced, not fair to give him another.

    1. Rich says:

      He is a proven points scorer…thus producing!

      1. Paddy says:

        A proven bore , NO TO NICK

      2. Michael Grievson says:

        He also went something like 47 races without retiring

      3. iceman says:

        I think that’s what people mean when they say he’s boring :)

      4. Rich says:

        Yeah thats true. Im sure they could rely on him. Having said that why not give Senna 3 or 4 races to prove himself?

    2. Marcel says:

      agree…

      give a chance to Senna or other young driver…

      Heidfeld, Liuzzi, de La Rosa… c’mon…

    3. Not produced? He was often the equal of Kubica at BMW, true he had more experience at that point, but only a bit. I believe Kubica to be the better driver, but Heidfeld is no slouch.

      Better for them to go with Heidfeld then Senna, unfortunate for Senna, but that is racing.

      1. Webberisthebest says:

        Seven years of Heidfeld’s experience in F1 (in 2007) against a rookie Kubica you call “only a bit”? LOL

      2. Didn’t realize the disparity in their start dates was so large! My bad…

      3. ahmed says:

        I would say he was way more than just a bit more experienced than Kubica in 2006 when Kubica started in F1. Heidfeld was nearing the end of his 7th year in F1 at the time.

      4. I didn’t realize that Heidfeld had 6 years on Kubica, so definitely more than a bit! Ooops…

    4. Dave says:

      I don’t agree. Yes he’s been in F1 for a while, but always in underperforming cars. In the decent BMW in 2008, Kubica scored one victory at a race where the frontrunners took themselves out and Heidfeld was asked to give way (or so he maintained). While I don’t rate Heidfeld as highly as I do Kubica, I do believe he could always give him a good run. There was very little between the two when they were team mates.

      I’m glad that Renault have seen sense and are taking the tried and trusted approach. He might not have the raw speed of a Hamilton or a Vettel but he does have the experience and knowledge required, as well as that record for most consecutive calssified finishes (41). Exactly what Renault need, a man who can test and develop a car and who will keep collecting points as the season progresses.

      1. Actually what Renault need a driver to take their car to the top step of the podium which is what they set their sites on when they built the R31

      2. Dave says:

        Then who do you suggest? An out practice and most likely out of fitness Raikkonen?

      3. unoc says:

        Really? Renault set there sights on the top step of the podium.

        Could you tell us which team hasn’t set there sights on the top step of the podium making there new car? Redbull? Ferrari? McLaren? Mercedes? Even Lotus has Gascoyne going out and saying that his car is the best in each area of the car and should be a real contender.

        All teams want the top. Mercedes aimed for the top last year and they didn’t even get 1 single podium. Renault for all it’s hype could do the same. We know that renault is no heavily controlled/pushed by Baher who has a big ego he likes to stroke, and I’m sure running the car slightly lighter to get it up there and have the LOTUS (renault) GP up the top of the lists would fit in quite well. Remember Sauber last year? If it suits the desires then it will do well in testing.

        I’m not saying it wont win, but hcances are against it and deciding drivers based on who can win the WDC in the car is pretty game of you. No, actually rather ignorant of F1.

      4. NamedMyKidAyrton says:

        Unoc — Just for the record, Mercedes did get three podiums in 2010 thanks to Rosberg: Malaysia, China and Silverstone.

      5. unoc says:

        Thanks, sorry by bad. What I meant was Top Step of the Podium (hence referring to what you said)…. mistyped and mismumbled on my part.

    5. Bernardo says:

      I agree but he is reliable and can be a benchmark for the experienced. He is much better than Liuzzi or de la Rosa. I would not waste my time testing them. If experience is the key I would also try Bourdais and Klien in a test to see how the car and tires suits their driving style. Hulkenberg should test too along Senna to compare speed vs.consistency and experience.

    6. TFLB says:

      He’s always ‘produced’, but other drivers always get more publicity.

      1. peterg says:

        I think Renault will have to go with a driver with more experience than Senna, Nick H fits that bill with years under the belt. The only other available drivers with that kind of history are Fisi & de La Rosa.

      2. devilsadvocate says:

        now thats actually a novel idea, you think Fisichella would even be sharp after his year off? He struggled with KERS and the moving front wing (both things the FI 2009 didnt have) when he moved to Ferrari after his showing at Spa, it would be fun to see him back though but he might struggle with all the new additions. I bet he has been kicking himself that he so quickly jumped out of a given race seat for a few pinch hits at the Scuderia.

    7. Tim. says:

      All of you who want him to have a chance…when was the last time you saw him give 120% for three races in a row…he drives when he wants and not before…he should go back to karts…

      1. Laurence H says:

        I believe you can only give 100% at any time.

      2. Marty says:

        How can anyone give more than 100%? [mod] You should have stated he has only ever put in 80% effort.

      3. unoc says:

        Actually I believe 100% compared to 120% is 5/6ths and as such he should have said 83.333*% not 80% :)

      4. Paul says:

        You can’t give more than 100% so the answer would have to be never.

    8. I don’t think it is a question of being fair or not.

      Bruno Senna’s helmet in the black and gold Renault is a marketer’s dream.

      Where it makes sense to get Heidfeld on board is for the development of the car. I doubt that either Bruno or Petrov have enough experience to guide the engineers.

      Whilst not spectacular, ‘Quick Nick’ is a solid performer who has some knowledge of the Pirelli tires and faster than de La Rosa.

      1. Allan says:

        That “marketer’s” dream will lose steam if Bruno cannot deliver on expectations, which will be hard with two inexperienced drivers trying to help develop the car as you say.

        I know a lot of people would like to see Senna have a go, but the situation needs to be right. Bruno did not look really good relative to the others that piloted the HRT last year. Not having an experienced teammate to develop the car could mean that the Renault fizzles through the season and Petrov and Senna scratch around further back in the field, effectively killing both their careers.

        I think it is important for the young drivers to learn from experience teammates at that point in their career.

      2. James Allen says:

        You are right – it only works if it’s successful. That’s always the way

    9. M. S. Koentjoro says:

      On the contrary, Heidfeld has NOT been given his chance. Yes he’s had 174 race, but answer me, who among his team mates in those races won?

      Only one, Robert Kubica, and that is after Heidfeld had to give way because of a fuel strategy,and even after that he held off a charging Alonso until the chequered flag.

      I think that goes a long way in explaining his circumstances.

      1. Grabyrdy says:

        Don’t recall ever having to scroll down so far to get to the end of a conversation (and well done James, for having this facility. I love it !)

        I’m a Nick-lover. He has held his end up against Raikonnen, Webber, Massa and Kubica. What better recommendation can there be ? And he’s a RACER – he’s switched-on all the time – was it at Spa last year when he passed 5/6 guys on the last lap because he’d read the conditions right ? Us old guys – that’s what we respect above everything else.

      2. Rudy Pyatt says:

        This. Yes. Two thumbs way up.

        If the car is as good as many seem to think, Nick may “pull a Frentzen”: Recall that Heinz-Harald was in the hunt for the title (mixing it with Schumi and Mika in doing so!) while driving for Jordan.

    10. JJ MUPPET says:

      Nick I think is the only choice in terms of bringing the car home in a decent position. As strong as Kubica? NO! But what the team need.

  2. TFLB says:

    Good for Heidfeld if he gets it. An equal to Kubica in my view and a good driver to develop the car and Petrov. The only problem I can see is that the unrealistic expectation that was being placed on Kubica. I can see people belittling Heidfeld’s achievments at the end of the year by saying ‘well, Kubica would have been x much further ahead of Petrov, Kubica would have got a better result in y race…’ Who’d be Nick Heidfeld? Getting a good drive always seems to become very complicated through no fault of his own.

    1. Thomas says:

      James, is there anything in the claim that Nick got half a second faster when JV was ditched and RK came into play?

      Totally agree on Heidfeld. I’m a bit of a fan, he just seems to be a good driver, a nice guy and always a bit underrated. It’s sad that he has no drive this year as he matched Kubica quite well and he could very well have been the driver to get the Canadian win that time. Would be happy to see him back.

  3. Stu says:

    I know Senna is the official reserve but in the interest of Renault making the best of this season and the car’s potential, it has to be Heidfeld.

  4. Rodrigo says:

    Senna in a black and gold Lotus!? What are they waiting for?

    It must be either him or Raikkonnen, if he wants to.

    1. John Butcher says:

      Its a renault. Lotus is the Sponsor. If he was driving a lotus he would be driving for Tony and Mike!

      1. Rodrigo says:

        I guess we will have to wait for the court decision. They are both Lotus Renaults in my opinion.

        But I dont think this matters much…a Honda became a Mercedes in just 2 years, and a BMW raced with a Ferrari engine…

  5. Peter says:

    Interestingly the decision had been made shortly after Kimi`s spokesman said to the Finnish media that Kimi is focusing on WRC right now and would not driver for Lotus-Renault. Heidfeld is the best of the rest and a good guy.

    1. dstaisey says:

      Kimi has a spokesman?

      1. Rich C says:

        All bigshots have one. Heck, *I even have one, although sometimes she forgets to tell me what I think…

      2. Tom (London) says:

        Yeah Mum’s are like that ;-)

      3. Rodrigo says:

        Wifes also.

  6. I think Kubica is on his way to become F1′s “bionic man” in the style of Barry Sheene but better be bionic than dead I guess. He also presented Heidfeld with a once in a lifetime opportunity any underrated F1 driver can only dream of; who knows, maybe the R31 is Nick’s Brawn he’s been waiting for all his career.

    A decent choice given NH’s experience with various top teams, KERS, and Pirelli rubber. To give Nick some credit, he outscored Kubica in 2007 and 2009 while in 2008 was not too far behind. Maybe his driving style is not as spectacular as Robert’s but I think Lopez and Bouiller are after points and not heroics in the ROC style.

    Let’s see who gets the job.

  7. Galapago555 says:

    “Heidfeld… has a lot of experience of the Pirelli tyres as he is the official tester for the Italian marque”

    Obviously that makes him look interesting for any team this season. Seems a little unfair IMO. Probably he will be bringing lots of info to his team. Something similar happens with Pedro de la Rosa: wherever he goes, probably as a test driver, it will be easy to think that they are hiring him because of the knowledge of the tyres that he can give.

    James, don’t you think that a rule should issued in order to avoid this kind of situations in the future?

    1. Nando says:

      Rule changes would just result in poorer test drivers. Not nearly as bad as when a certain team had a special relationship with a tyre company.

    2. Jason C says:

      A rule against people having knowledge and experience? Why, exactly?

      1. Galapago555 says:

        Exactly to avoid that experience and knowledge being transferred into one only team, giving that team an unfair advantage over the others.

        It’s not a rule “against people having knowledge and experience”. It’s a rule against using that knowledge and experience just for one team – the one that hires the formerly test driver – instead of using it in benefit of the whole grid.

      2. Jason C says:

        I still don’t understand.

        Should the team with the best simulator share that out too? The one with the most money share that out?

        Surely F1 is all about trying to get an advantage over the rest of the field by putting together the best team possible – and that means includes anyone with specialist knowledge, be it of aerodynamics, engineering or the way tyres perform.

      3. Galapago555 says:

        @Jason C

        Obviously I’m not explaining myself correctly.

        My point is as follows: Nick has been testing the new tyres. And he has been the only one – actually he and Pedro – to get a first hand knowledge on how the tyres perform, how they wear off, etc., for thousands of kms (much more than the rest of drivers on the winter tests will have). This was supposed to be made just for the tyre supplier to imrove the quality of the tyres and adjust them to the standards set by the FIA.

        So Nick has a deeper knowledge [of the new Pirellis] than any other driver. Not because he is a better driver – and he is quite good, of course -; not because his team has a better simulator; not because of any special merit, but because he has been working on the tests.

        And, IMO, this gives him, and the team that hires him, an unfair advantage. It’s not hiring a better engineer than those of the other teams. It’s hiring the one that designed the new tyres.

    3. NamedMyKidAyrton says:

      I’m with you, Galapago. It’s akin to hiring the an FIA engineer who served as inspector for technical developments in the run-up to a season. He’d have huge value not based on his preparation or insight but only on the basis of his privileged position.

      In the financial world it’s called “insider trading” and gets you a jail sentence.

  8. Lilla My says:

    Slightly off topic: I was out of home for almost a week with no radio, internet, tv, telephone or anything else – what a shock Kubica’s crash was when I came back today! I’m so utterly sorry, I hope he will recover soon and fully enough to be able to race again (firstly and most importantly I wish him to recover of course). It doesn’t make it better, but I think it’s so nice that so many people from F1 (and outside) are wishing him all the best and visiting him in the hospital.

    Now on topic: if an experienced driver is who Renault is looking for, then Heidfeld is definitely a better option, but that’s nothing new. I never thought he was a brilliant driver, but a solid one and it’s a pitty that he never managed to win a race after so many years (maybe that tells something about his talent and abilities…). If they really want to win races and think about WCC top three then two inexperienced drivers is a risky choice. On the other hand, I would like to see what Senna can really do. If I remember correctly Brawn was quite pleased with him in 2009 preseason before signing Barrichello, so maybe he deserves to be given a better car than the last years HRT. I wouldn’t really mind seeing him doing well ;).
    So my sentiments and feelings tell me – Senna, but F1 is business and I think from that perspective Heidfeld is a better choice. Or at least safer and more predictable.

    1. Galapago555 says:

      Hi Lilla.

      I guess he is not your fav driver, but being Polish as you are I couldn’t help but think of you when I heard about Robert’s accident. Nice to read from you again.

      Fingers crossed for him to get well soon!! :-D

      1. Lilla My says:

        Hello. Thank you :). You’re right he’s not my favourite driver, but as you probably know, this is not a matter of being favourite or not. Being Polish, I know how much it must have cost Kubica to achieve what he’s achieved as it wasn’t easy for him at all to get to F1. He may not be my favourite driver, but I do admire and apreciate his talent and abilities and I think he’s a very talented and very good driver. And I also like his noncelebrity-like personality and his irony ;-). He’s simply a cool and nice guy. I just wish him all the best and also keep my fingers crossed. The news coming from the hospital are very conforting, luckily.

        And I was moved when I saw the “get well soon Robert” signs on all the cars today – it was such a simple yet touching gesture.

  9. Neil R says:

    No possibility of Hulkenburg getting a tilt at the drive? He must be viewing it as a potential opportunity.. so it would be a shame if Renault don’t give him a chance.

    1. Neil R says:

      Obviously not wanting to phrase my comment as an oppotunity at Kubica’s expense.

    2. James Allen says:

      I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of them enquiring about him, but they need to test Senna and Heidfeld short term.

  10. Aero says:

    As a massive fan of Renault, I would be disappointed if Heidfield was given the nod.

    As a driver, he is solid, has the race craft and is experienced but he just hasnt got that extra something needed to become a race winner or a title contender. He’s proven this time and time again…

    Its time for Bruno Senna to step up to the plate and show us what he is made of. I hope he gets his chance at Renault

    Wouldn’t mind seeing Kimi at Renault..but i cant see it.

  11. James says:

    With regards to Heidfeld, I know a lot of people say he’s had his chance, but he did match Kimi when they were teammates, and was pretty evenly matched with Kubica in 2007, and finished just 15 points behind him in 2008. He had the measure of a former world champion (Villeneuve), and was beaten at Williams by a driver that wasn’t too shabby last year.
    I think he represents a safe bet for Renault.

    It all depends on how brave they’re feeling I guess?

    1. Rich_ct says:

      Not sure how you can say Webber beat Nick when at Williams. Sure Mark got more points because Nick missed the last six races. But up to that point Nick outscored Mark with three podiums against one (Monaco where Nick was second and Mark third) and secured the team’s only pole position. If you take the 2009 season, were it not for a string of bad luck in the last races he would have outscored Robert handsomely – he still scored more points.

  12. jonas says:

    I’ve always been a big Heidfeld fan, but never really been able to make my mind up about how good he is. It’s good to hear he is getting another chance to prove himself, which he will surely know is likely to be his last. Hopefully this will give him the edge he has seemed to lack at times.

  13. Jon says:

    Good on the team for giving Senna a chance.

    Heidfeld would be the safe choice, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Senna get the gig if he does the job in the test.

    1. Tim. says:

      This could very well be his only chance…he needs to push…

  14. Richard M says:

    I really hope Senna gets the seat, yes it could be a risk having two relative rookies in the cars but Senna only made one driver error last season that led to a crash so if the car is competitive there is nothing against him scoring cosistently, he also deserves a chance after being unlucky at missing out on the Honda/Brawn seat and then last year driving the HRT which was not only the worst car on the grid but Senna’s car was even worse than his team mates.

    Heidfeld has had his chance, he has never won a race and seems content to just finish rather than push for the race win or a higher position. If they are looking for a long term replacment is’nt Senna a better pick because he has got potential and could develop into a top driver, while Heidfeld is past it and would only be a stop gap.

    1. Nick says:

      Heidfeld at Spa 2008? closing stages of the race. That seems like desire to finish further up. I am a huge Kubica fan and I was deeply saddened to hear of the crash. I would be happy to see Heidfeld step in, he definitely has what it takes and I think Robert would agree.

      1. Richard M says:

        He had intermediate tyres on while other in front still had dry tryes while it was raining so he had a massive advantage, he was not pushing or taking risks, he just had huge superior grip.

      2. huuhuhuhu says:

        Umm… Heidfeld just had a better tyre choice in the end. The super overtaking came from a huge speed difference between a car on full wet tyres and intermediate/dry tyres. The difference in lap time was something like 20-30 seconds. There is no way anyone can hold him behind when he has that much of a speed advantage.

        This same thing happened in Silverstone 2008 with Lewis Hamilton. His ‘super’ speed compared to others was thanks to the right tyre choice by his team. Amazingly most of the field screwed up the tyre choices badly, and continued to screw up for most of the rest of the race which explains the massive difference to Lewis at the end of the race. But people can just ignore these things and say the driver who won was really special.

      3. angie says:

        [mod] We all judge drivers on merits that we believe are important, but I felt I wanted to jump in here and point out two very important things when it comes to Nick Heidfeld. Nick has a very different style to Robert, both as a driver and as a person. He’s naturally quiet and understated, but with that he’s tenacious, measured, determined and consistent. It was these qualities that ensured he beat Kubica in the same car 2 of the 3 years they were teammates. And it was these qualities that allowed him to put him ego (and ultimately, his career) to one side and allow Kubica to take his, BMW’s (and what would have been Nick’s) first victory in Canada 2008. However, it is his quiet driving style and lack of risk-taking that has allowed him to be overlooked time and time again. The guy is top-notch. Just because you won’t hear him shouting about it, doesn’t mean it isn’t true. For me, it’s this humility and normality that makes him stand out from a group of men who are Machiavellian by nature. You can accuse him of not being a born racer, but never that he doesn’t have the ability to achieve.

      4. Mario says:

        I think statistics, facts etc. matter little in Kubica’s case, he is past this stage. Heidfeld on the other hand is the one who needs them to get a job. The energy in form of momentum is what matters.
        Compare Alonso’s momentum to Massa’s one and you’ll know what I mean.

      5. Nick says:

        Yes but in Spa, Nick could have easily stayed on the dry tyre and limped his way around and accept a mid position. But no, he wanted to get further up, he had the desire to finish in the top three. He had a decision to make, took the risk and it paid off for him.

  15. Simon Benedict says:

    “Heidfeld represents a solid choice. He is very experienced, strong technically and has a lot of experience of the Pirelli tyres as he is the official tester for the Italian marque.”

    Don’t you mean WAS the official tester? He ditched that job to drive for Sauber at the end of last year.

    De la Rosa is Pirelli’s current tester…

  16. Orlando says:

    James, what is your view of Bruno? Am I right in thinking he did quite a good test for Brawn pre-2009 but eventually lost out to Rubens on the basis of experience.

    1. James Allen says:

      I think he deserves a chance to show what he can do. If he was coming in for Petrov that would be one thing but Renault have to replace one of the top drivers and points scorers, which raises the bar a lot.

      1. Quick Nick Rules says:

        I have to say I think you are being a bit harsh on Nick Heidfeld here, James, by describing him merely as ‘solid’. The bald facts are that during their 3 and a half years as team-mates, Quick Nick not only outscored Kubica he also outqualified him more often than not. This would seem to be at odds with the perception in F1 of Kubica being world class and Heidfeld merely a solid pedaller. Perception is everything in F1 and Heidfeld is seen as consistent but not in the same league as Kubica whereas the facts show this is untrue. I very much like you as a journalist and am disappointed you have fallen into the traps others have of lazily writing Nick Heidfeld off as consistent but nothing more than that. He is at least at Kubica’s level and head and shoulders above Liuzzi and Senna.

      2. James Allen says:

        You’re disappointed I don’t share your views, you mean

      3. angie says:

        Agree 100% with Quick Nick Rules. Motorsport journalists are like toddlers – only interested if it’s shiny, and polished and makes a loud noise. Unfortunately for Nick Heidfeld he never shouted loud enough. Ironic, really, that the man who beat Robert Kubica over 2 seasons is being asked to prove that he is worthy of his temporarily vacated race seat.

      4. Aussie Rod says:

        Nice response James and clearly many of your readers agree, including myself.

        Nick H is solid, but not spectacular, and the thought of him getting the drive bores me to tears…

        I so hope Senna gets the nod and has a chance to prove that his GP2 and Brawn pre-2009 form is the real Senna and not what he showed last year in a pathetic piece of machinery.

        Here’s a question: what would Renault do if Senna gets the nod, outperforms Petrov and then Kubica is back ready to race mid-season…? Would Senna get Petrov’s drive?

      5. James Allen says:

        I don’t think you’ll see RK in an F1 car in 2011. If you do it’s a miracle

      6. JD says:

        Reading press notes when they were teammates at BMW, Kubica often took big gambles on setup to try and improve the car. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it backfired. Nick usually took the sensible route, meaning he would maximize the known parameters but not push the unknown.

        This is a good test for Renault. The entire team has been developed around Kubica. Now they can use Heidfeld to benchmark their progress. And if he doesn’t work out, they won’t have any trouble lining up more aspirants.

      7. unoc says:

        You talk about perception but thenn you claim Hidfeld is head and shoulders above Liuzzi and Senna. Yet you have nothing to base that off at all. Senna had a bad relationship and there is much evnidence to show that the car wasn’t up the standard of his teammate’s car. Hence the best we can tell from him is a two year old test were we was nearly as fast a WDC to be. Only a few years after he came back to motorsport.

        How can you see Hidfeld being a level head and shoulders above him when you have no facts.

        Hidfeld vs Kubica is facts. Senna then vs Hidfeld now is nowhere near fact and mostly just, what would you call it?….. perception.

        BTW, I agree with you that much of F1 is about perception. Lots of people thought Webber was brilliant after Spain and Monaco. And even as a fan of Mark Webber, I couldn’t agree. Kubica smashes a rookie and suddnely he is brilliant. That is how F1 is.

        I hope Senna gets the job. Simply because he is younger and needs a go. I think he is definately fast enough and has great depths of talent for which to improve to suceed. Hidfeld, while good isn’t going anywhere. He deserves a seat more than some, but in F1 many things aren’t fair, and Senna just beats him here (preempting the tests) just.

        Di Resta having beaten Vettel in F3, and Vettel getting into F1 back in 07 (same as Hamilton) and then into a brilliant car in 09 and 10 vs Di Resta only getting a midfield car now. Not very fair, but one got red bull sponsorship and the other had to bide his time and wait in DTM.

      8. Donuts says:

        The bald facts? Where are you getting your facts from? 2007 was the only year he qualified better(5-12). Not mentioning he had loads of experience compared to one season of testing and a couple of races. I could also mention a lot of DNF’s but qualifying is what mathers. In 2008 Rober Kubica outqualified Nick Heidfeld 13-5(10th race before Nick Heidfeld qualified ahead of Robert Kubica) with a competitive car, in 2009 with a not so competitive car, he outqualified him 11-6! What a load of MUMBOJUMBO! Let’s not even mention the tension that arised when BMW-Sauber-F1 stopped development in 2008. Just facts, you are totally of the mark!

      9. Mario says:

        You are looking at facts and compare Kubica and Heidfeld on points and position in the result tables. By doing that you are overlooking, in my opinion, many other things that matter a lot, like driver’s potential, passion for racing, dedication/devotion, and all those ingredients of driver’s spirit that are barely tangible yet make the difference, although not necessary transform in to the stats numbers.

        Heidfeld? He may yet surprise us. I wish him all the best. I want him to make me change my mind about him from a good one to brilliant one.

      10. Quick Nick Rules says:

        Donuts – from 07-09 Heidfeld scored 140 points, Kubica 131. I won’t take the 06 results as Robert was a rookie then. But the rest of the time, they were very evenly matched with Nick slightly on top. These are facts that can’t be argued with. And the only reason Nick hasn’t won a race is because he let Kubica past in Montreal ’08 when the team told him to. Had he been less of a nice guy then he would have won that race. I’m afraid in F1 nice guys do come last – DC did the same thing to Mika twice actually and the only payback he got was a podium in Suzuka 01 as Hakkinen didnt want to have to face the press. A bit like lending someone a tenner and getting a quid back.

      11. Quick Nick Rules says:

        Mario – again you have fallen into the trap of perception being everything. The only way to compare two drivers is to look at their performances in the same car, and Heidfeld came out on top during their 3 years together. If we’re discussing intangible aspects such as potential then you could have said the likes of Magnussen or Pantano were potential world champions before they entered the sport yet both flopped spectacularly. Nick Heidfeld might not sell himself well but results speak louder than any bs about ‘passion’ or ‘potential’. In the premier league you could say that arsenal have passion and potential and have done for years but it’s man utd who produce the goods. At the end of the day sport is all about producing results. Good, hard solid results. Heidfeld will do this far better than Liuzzi or Senna, who if was still known as Bruno Lalli I can guarantee would not be in with a sniff. His name has carried him far further than his talent.

  17. jmv says:

    I have not read anything about Hulkenberg and his contractual status… is Force India willing to let him go? Or is he under some Mercedes quarantine in case Michael decides to ditch the Merc after three races like Nigel did at McLaren.
    James any info on Hulk’s availability?

    As for Nick Heidfeld… I am afraid we’ll see some anti-climactic solidness in the hugely anticipated black-gold car.

    As Mark Webber summed up Heidfeld while together at Williams: “Nick just sits there in a race, ..I refuse to do that, settle for seventh or eighth. I’m going to try.”

    1. Robert says:

      Yeah, Webber is one to speak after his pathetic performance in Abu Dhabi while a WDC was on the line. Guy is a muppet. He had a faster car than Alonso yet couldn’t make hay of it.

      [mod]

      1. Rich C says:

        Really not a nice thing to say – if all you can do is insult ppl who can’t reach your nose you should go elsewhere.

      2. Nando says:

        Didn’t he have a cracked shoulder?

      3. Robert says:

        according to Webber, the shoulder didn’t cause him to be off pace.

        And if it did, he is using it as an excuse.

        In both cases, he is standing on his back foot.

      4. Laurence H says:

        What is going on with the moderation around here?

      5. Jack Flash says:

        Webber had a RB6 car 0.2 second per lap faster than Alonso’s Fez – in clear lap. How does that equate to magically easy ‘drive by’ speed advantage sitting directly behind Alonso and Petrov?

        [mod]

      6. James Allen says:

        Please do not use defamatory language on this site. Read the rules of the blog, please. It takes up valuable time of the moderator to clip out your insults

      7. TrueAussieGrit says:

        Thats Slander! I dont think anyone could of won that race after that pit stop call.

        Plenty of evidence he has the pace. Monaco for one.

        Take it back!

      8. Chris says:

        Im sorry Robert, but I do not agree with your comment one bit @ all, you are being very harsh on webber. He stopped to early and couldnt get the tyres to work for him.

      9. Robert says:

        What does that have to do with him pushing hard for the WDC? Webbah is nothing but excuses and second tier driver skill. He was trounced by Vettel in 2009 and again in 2010.

      10. Pargo says:

        what the…?

      11. unoc says:

        Yeah… How could someone is a car that was slightly faster not be able to get past someone much slower in a slower car… oh wait.. That was alonso and petrov…. oooohhhh.

      12. For some reason, I can’t reply to your reply to my post

        And there’s a difference between saying Renault want some wins (which is what I said) and that they want a WDC which is what you implied. And not every team wants to win. Fernandes said the new car is better in every way than his old car which I’d imagine is true because the old car was slow.

        And Mercedes got on the podium 3 times last year.

        My point was Renault want to win races and move up the field and I’m not sure Nick Heidfeld will take them there.

      13. unoc says:

        True. But Gascoyne said that the new Lotus was at the top in almost every area. McLaren and Ferrari are saying they want to win. Mercedes want to take it back.

        Renault are about as high as they can be without challenging for the title.

        The Renault was about the same as the Mercedes last year (Petrov being the downer). THe next stage up is winning GP’s. And when you do that then you are also challenging for the title.

        Given that though Renault was down near the bottom of the lst today, I’m guessing that either they are running very heavy fuel loads and others are light. OR They simply once again aren’t fast enough for wins. I’m guessing the later, and hence why I don’t see a GP winning car being needed.

      14. Bollo says:

        So was Alonso pathetic in Abu Dhabi too?

      15. Robert says:

        Absolutely. But stick to the point I was making – Webbah couldn’t get around Alonso when he was able to.

        It’s very clear to all who have eyes that Alonso is a far better driver than Webbah. Webbah doesn’t even crack the top 8 in my eyes. Wait, he does now since Kubica won’t be racing this year.

        Bottom line, Kubica, Hamilton, Alonso and Vettel were the top drivers last year. Button and Rosberg did very well too. No other drivers really stood out.

      16. Jason says:

        And Alonso had a faster car than Petrov yet couldn’t do anything about him, what does that say about Alonso.

        Or could it be that particular track is horrid for overtaking and there was nothing the both of them could do without being totally reckless.

      17. Robert says:

        You’re trying to shift topic from Webbah owning inadequate passings skills while driving in the top flight to Alonso not being able to pass Petrov. Petrov earlier in the year had a fierce battle with Hamilton, who is probably the best in the business at driving by people. If Petrov, a wet behind the ears rookie, can battle Hamilton mightily, I’d say the kid has skill at staying ahead.

        And yes, the track is terrible for passing. The formula for passing has always been known – fast straights leading into tight corners. The desert tracks are gaudy and attrocious anyway. Once they run their contracted races, Bernie will no doubt move away from them.

        Hopefully when he goes to sign a new TV deal, they will insist that tracks that typically lead processional races not be on the calendar, as ad revenue and viewership will drop off due to the boring racing generated by those tracks. Since cash holds Bernie by the short hairs, he will tow the line and drop any race that can’t consistently put on a good show for the viewers.

      18. unoc says:

        Robert, you make no sense. If you’re saying that Alonso has a reason for not being able to pass petrov because Petrov has skills, then how could Webber pass Alonso? Becuase alonso doesn’t happen to have the skills that petrov has?

      19. Olivier says:

        With all due respect, Webber did have a broken shoulder at the time …

      20. James Allen says:

        Your final comment crossed the line. Don’t do it again. It wastes moderators time clipping out insults

      21. Mario says:

        Do you need a volunteer mod?

      22. James Allen says:

        You are very kind, At moment we have two and it’s under control.

    2. M. S. Koentjoro says:

      He said that?

      To sum up their time together :
      Podium: Webber 1 (3rd), Heidfeld 3 (1 3rd and 2 2nd)
      Points : Webber 36, Heidfeld 28 , but Heidfeld had to sit out the last FIVE races because of an accident and a gardening leave prior to his move to BMW Sauber. Without counting those five races it’s 28 Heidfeld, 24 Webber.

      Talk is cheap @aussiegrit.

    3. TFLB says:

      Probably sour grapes from Webber as Heidfeld was so muuch better than him until his injury in 2005. Anyway, Heidfeld is in my opinion a very good overtaker – certainly better than Webber, who seems to always crash when he tries.

      1. Robert says:

        agreed. Heidfeld is very clean and precise when overtaking. One of the best at overtaking imo.

  18. Matt Devenish says:

    Great news on RK’s progress and I hope it continues.

    Replacing him is impossible. Of all the names mentioned I don’t rate any in the same league as Robert Kubica. The only way I can see Lotus Renault netting the 150 points Boullier expected from Kubica or of his replacement, will be to support Petrov firmly as the team leader. Yes that sounds nuts, but to my mind the team has no other choice.

    If Petrov isn’t rallied around, managed and supported in the same way Hill was in 1994 or Irvine in 1999, I can see 2011 being a lost year for the team. Petrov may or may not be capable of scoring the 150 points, but it’s the challenge he has effectively been set by Boullier. It could be the making of him

    I have to wonder about Heidfeld. I thought he was amazing in F3000 and although I was a Montoya supporter, Nick was the better driver in ’98 and destroyed the opposition in ’99. However, since then I’ve not seen anything in the 10+ years he’s been in F1 to suggest he’s anything other than a steady-eddy. Yes, he’s never had a true race winning car in F1 (RK’s win in the sister BMW was somewhat fortunate and the Williams in ’05 never looked in true contention even when he took pole at the Nurburgring) and there have been a number of well measured drives to the podium, but Lotus-Renault were talking at the launch of their new car about winning races this season, not the odd drive to 2nd or 3rd.

    My personal preference for RK’s stand-in is Senna. Yes, 2010 was awful and GP2 was so-so, but if he’s going to be given a proper shot at F1 then this has to be it. If at the end of 2011 it was the same story as when he drove for HRT, then ok, he had his opportunity. Heidfeld to my mind has had more than his fair share of opportunities. Sauber after the disaster at Prost. Jordan when there was no room at Sauber. Williams through links with BMW, followed by a works BMW drive before returning to Sauber after BMW. At each step there have been flashes of quality, but equally disappointments – outshone by Raikkonen and outperformed by Frentzen on his return. Beaten by a rookie Glock while at Jordan and again upstaged at times by a junior team-mate in the form of RK at BMW, although to balance this point, he did outscore the Pole in all three seasons they were together. But when BMW announced they were pulling out of the sport, leaving both without drives for the following year, who found a seat when the music stopped and why?

    I think Nick’s great, I really do – his F3000 days proved it, but he’s had more comebacks than Lazarus and it’s for that reason I’d like to see someone else given an opportunity.

    1. Alex W says:

      Imagine if Nick came back and took the WDC, with a bunch of 2nd places! Incredible!

    2. David says:

      Well said, Matt. NH has had significant opportunity, and just hasn’t delivered that final sense of being able to move to the top tier. I’d say that a Hulkenberg drive would be smarter than a Petrov/Senna pairing–but in either case, it’ll be an awfully green duo. I can understand why Renault may want to smooth their path by going to an experienced, though second-level, driver like Heidfeld. I somehow sense it will be him, and hope he reaches deep and finds a new level of commitment and performance.

    3. Allan says:

      I’m not sure what you mean by more comebacks. By my reckoning there has been only one.

      I think Senna and Petrov would have a devil of a time developing the car without an experienced hand and they may BOTH lose out in that scenario.

      1. Matt Devenish says:

        Al, it was poor phrasing while writing quickly, I meant “opportunities” ;)

  19. Luca says:

    either way its going to be a big ask to help get Renault up the table – if Kubica is going to need the full year to recover, then Renault are going to need a good points scorer.

    As much as Senna has the potential, its still no mean feat and he could easily end up having a tumultuous season as Petrov did last year – learning a new car, driving further up the field in a much quicker car etc…
    Heidfeld will be seen as the more experienced and safe hands, but there will be KERS and the wing, new tyres – he could end up struggling like Fisichella did when he moved to Ferrari in 2009.

    Whoever takes the role, it could easily be a dream come true or a poisoned chalice…. good luck to ‘em!

  20. Andy C says:

    All of the facts probably point to it being best to give Nick the drive.

    However, I have always rated Senna and I think genuinely he could turn out really well in a good car.

    At least Renault are saying they will make the decision after the last tests, which means they get to run both this week, and maybe both the following test.

    So for what its worth, I’d go for Bruno. But they won’t I’m pretty sure.

  21. Orlando says:

    Not sure if it’s ok to link other articles here but this piece was interesting to read..

    http://www.itv-f1.com/Feature.aspx?Type=Mark_Hughes&id=44646

    1. Declan says:

      Great article – thanks for sharing.

      Have to wonder whether Mark Hughes would be so glowing after the 2010 season!

      My initial memory of 2010 was that Senna was shown up a few times by his team mates (particularly Singapore). So I was a bit surprised by his qualifying stats.

      Qualifying:
      Senna/Chandhok: 7 to 2
      Senna/ Yamamoto: 5 to 1
      Senna/ Klien: 1 to 2

      What more can he show in a HRT?

  22. Robert says:

    Quick Nick is the ticket for Renault. Man is hungry after being out of F1 for awhile. The car seems to have pace, Nick realises his time in F1 is rapidly coming to an end – he has no reason to not go flat out every time he grasps the wheel.

  23. kowalsky says:

    senna has the second chance of his life. He had one in brawn, and he missed it. Now he has a year experience. Is he going to take it. A real talent would take it with bioth hands. If he isa the kind of driver that needs time to get the lap times, maybe it’s not going to be enough.

    1. John Butcher says:

      I dont think he missed his chance with brawn. Its widely stated that had Honda not pulled out and Brawn having to name his line up so late in the day, Senna would have go the drive. Rubinho kept his drive becasue of his experience knowing that they would only attend 1 pre season test

  24. TG says:

    If its true Senna came within a whisker of Jenson’s times when testing for Honda in 08, and that he came v close to driving for Brawn in 09 (until Rubens re-signed) then I think Senna could surprise a lot of people. Ross Brawn, we can safely assume, is a great judge of driving talent.

    I’m taking this from Wikipedia, so pinch of salt etc, but one year in an HRT perhaps isn’t the best context to judge Senna’s talent by.

    Of course, they’re going to go for Heidfeld anyway – consistency counts – so its probably all academic anyway.

  25. Ross says:

    Makes perfect sense for them both to test. I hope Senna get’s it. He was robbed of the chance of driving the car of the decade because of a last minute team ownership change them ended up driving the worst car on the grid since the Lola. I am not claiming he will ever be World Champion but I have seen enough of Heidfeld over the years to know he doesnt have it.

    I’ve always seen him as the perfect number two at one of the top teams. Reliable and will rack up the points all season without ever troubling the world championship.

    I would like to see Senna get his chance for the fly away races and if he does not do it then you bring in Heidfeld for the European races.

    What would be interesting is if Senna came in and blew Petrov away. It would give a clear indication to where he and the car are were at interms of performance. I thought he wasnt up to much last year however I thought Kubica was outstanding so I could never judge how good that car actually was.

    1. David says:

      Yes, an interesting idea. I do think Heidfeld will get the nod, but if Senna were chosen, it might be the kind of gesture that would give him the confidence to fight for, and find, his place.

    2. Allan says:

      Prior to 2009, many would never have thought Jenson could “trouble” the world championship. Being in the right car makes all the difference in a career. Heidfeld has never been in a car like that Brawn was.

  26. Rich C says:

    “Fair” has nothing to do with reality here.
    IMHO if they take anyone other than Heidfeld they are giving up on their season.

    1. James Allen says:

      Disagree. I think many people would feel Hulkenberg would have the right combination of hunger and experience to be given the seat. But Senna deserves the chance to test the car and show what he can do

      1. unoc says:

        I think the bigger problem may well be that both Senna and Hidfeld are faster than Petrov.

        Then having to work out why out of the 3 drivers they can have driving for them, they have to have the slowest.

        I’m hoping Senna although Hidfeld is pretty fast, only half a thousandth behind Kubica IMO.

        Hulkenberg shouldn’t get it. If they are looking for a fast driver with 1 season under his belt then they already have him… his name is Senna.

        While I had hoped Hidfeld would have a seat this season and I think he deserves it more than several who do, Senna deserves it more. Sure he may not have blasted through the ranks as well as some would have expected, but 5 years ago he was no where, doing nothing in racing terms. How many drivers can you name who had given up racing only to come back and within a few years be a couple of tenths slower than a WDC to be that year and then in F1?

        Senna for the win

      2. Rich C says:

        No question Senna has to be given the chance, else why bring money to a team to be the 3rd driver. And if he blows their doors off then it’ll look like genius by Genii. I just don’t think it’ll happen.
        And the Hulk isn’t even in the picture at the moment.

      3. Andy C says:

        I think so too. They are going safe thinking of nick.

        I would absolutely love Bruno to nail it. Come on senna.

      4. Andy Rat says:

        I’m interested in this,James, as several others have expressed the same opinion, but I don’t quite follow the logic. The Hulk looks like he could be great, and has the hunger, but in what way is he any more experienced than Petrov or Senna?

      5. James Allen says:

        He has more F1 testing miles behind him having been involved with Williams for many years before racing. HIs record coming through is just better. I know people who’ve worked closely with him who really rate him. But Heidfeld would get the job done and Senna deserves to show what he can do in a decent car

      6. Dave says:

        Surely Force India wouldn’t allow Hulkenberg drive the Renault. They claim to be aiming for fifth this season, which is right where Renault finished last season, making them direct rivals. It would be quite embarassing to see their employee, Hulkenberg, finishing races ahead their race drivers Sutil and di Resta. They can’t take that chance.

      7. tad says:

        james, what worries me most about Senna is that Klien (not a top driver) came back after 3 years out of the sport and outperformed him straight away. Surely this is worrying?

  27. Joe says:

    Not a huge fan of Heidfeld’s, but I do think he lost his place on the grid sooner than he deserved. I think he has to be Renault’s best option here.

    I know pre-season testing can mean nothing in the end, but the new Renault is looking promising, and they need a driver that can get the full potential out of it. Petrov and Senna are both potentially good talents, but Renault needs more experience than that one of the cars this year.

  28. Ben G says:

    Go Bruno!

    They should take a chance on him for a couple of races. What a great story it would be if he did well.

  29. Evan says:

    They are giving both Heidfeld and Senna a chance to test. If Senna trounces him by a second a lap then he’ll get the job.
    If its the other way around then Heidfeld will.
    Whats fairer than that?
    Surely everyone here knows that championship points at the end of the season add up to millions of dollars. So a team isnt going to throw a newbie in who cant perform just to ‘give him a go’.

  30. Wu says:

    About Heidfeld, “quite quick” Nick as I call him. Yes he’s consistant, doesn’t make mistakes, is experienced and all that, but the reason why he’s been over looked so often, overshadowed by his team mates is because he doesn’t have that special something, an X-factor if you will. He’s hardly exciting, not exactly a risk taker. He might be underrated, but I believe he underperforms too. Now, that could be because he has never had a car to fight at the front for a significant portion of the season, but if you think about it, would Heidfeld do as well as Kubica last year? Would he lead the team forward, pushing them so hard of them, and of himself?

    In my opinion, the best success story of 2010 was Renault’s resurgance, and Kubica was bang in the middle of it. He drove that team forward, like Renault have said themselves, and this is exactly what is needed of Kubica’s replacement this year. It will be an uphill battle to get a win, let alone the championship, despite how radical the exhaust design is.

    This leaves me somewhat depressed about Renault this year – all that work Kubica, and all of his team put forward last year ruined all in a split second. There is no one driver available that can hope to achieve what Kubica could have this year. This is a year of what could have beens for them.

    I hope Senna has at least some fire in him, (and talent!) because Heidfeld and Liuzzi sure have none.

  31. Chris Orr says:

    Nick Heidfeld has proved he doesnt make mistakes and can finish races in the points. and he often beat his teams mates, such as Massa, Raikkonen and Kubica when they were full time team mates together at Sauber and BMW Sauber.

    He had a record 41 race finish classifications till Adrian Sutil ruined it in Singapore in 2009

    Its the safe choice, but Renault did mention they are looking to the future.

    Personally i’d like to see Senna get it. Heres hoping he proves himself in the coming days he can do it.

  32. Rob says:

    Good job Petrov is rich….

    Senna and Heidfeld both deserve the Renault drive more than him.

    Hope that Senna gets it. We already now how good Heidfeld was ever going to be.

  33. Timbuktu says:

    Some of you guys seem to forget the special treatment Nick Heidfeld was getting at BMW;),anyway I hope that Renault will choose him over Senna as Kubica replacement

  34. A.B. Normal says:

    In turning over every stone to find a potential replacement, it surprises me not to have heard Fisichella’s name. Is he officially retired, or did his stint at Ferrari along side a much quicker Raikkonen damage his reputation. (If Michael had been cleared to replace Massa in ’09, is there any doubt that Raikkonen would have also had him for an hors d’oeuvres?)

  35. ElChiva says:

    I’m going to be bold and suggest Renault forget about 2011 and focus on 2012. Heildfeld+Petrov are not going to bring a championship home, unless they drive a 2009 Brawn.

    Renault in my opinion should be seeking new talent, investing in the future and hoping for RK’s return in 2012. Buy Kobayashi’s contract, get Senna in the cockpit for the season and hope for the best, think outside the box and start developing the 2012 car NOW.

  36. onyx says:

    Only one man for it..the Hulk..get him asap or has he got a Mercedes deal to replace Michael…
    Heidfeld…perlease!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  37. TrueAussieGrit says:

    I think Senna deserves a run. Sure its a risk. But what if Mclaren hadn’t taken a risk on Hamilton. Think of the pay off if Senna wins in the JP Special colours his uncle made so famous.

    Drop Petrov for Heidfeld I say!!

    1. Robb says:

      Hamilton wasn’t really a risk for McLaren. Coming up through the system, he had been a star at every level, they knew he was an incredible talent. Plus, they didn’t need to count on him bringing any certain amount of experience and be the team leader, as they had this other guy named Alonso in the other car… so really, completely different circumstances.

      I really like Bruno, and also would love to see what he could do in a decent car, but just don’t think two virtual rookies is a recipe for success.

      Rob

    2. Robb says:

      Just saw your last line. yeah, I wouldn’t mind seeing Nick and Bruno, but with Petrov’s money, that’s not going to happen.

      Good thing I like Petrov too.(:

      Rob

  38. 1971gtv says:

    It will be interesting to see which way it goes. Renault also have to consider the morale of their technical staff, particularly if they believe the car is strong.

    I bet Petrov will be a very interested observer, as well.

  39. Ted Roalfkuepter says:

    It is fairly impressive that in the space of not even two full calendar years, Nick Heidfeld will have driven the BMW Sauber F1.09, the Pirelli-run Toyota TF109, Sauber-Ferrari C30, and now the Renault R31. In some other era he’d have been behind the wheel of 5! different Formula One cars built by four different constructors were Mercedes GP able to test in-season.

  40. Vic says:

    Does Heidfeld and Senna testing mean that we can expect them to do qualifying simulations.

    Vic

  41. Nulla says:

    No need to pick out a favourite for the seat just yet. Renault are doing the right thing and giving Senna and Heifeld both a chance at proving they should start the season. So if it takes a few test days to sort out who is clearly faster then so be it. I do not think Heidfeld’s Pirelli experience will count for much in Renault’s minds as Grosjean is more up to date on tyre info and it was over 6 months ago for Heidfeld. However that experience may just give him a slight edge over Senna this week as it will be Senna’s first taste of Pirelli rubber. For Senna’s sake let’s just hope he is close enough this week to warrant a call back for the following tests. Then I think it will be a fair shot out with the faster driver at least starting the season hopefully and yes I hope it is Senna.

  42. Daniel - Phoenix, AZ says:

    Ho hum. Heidfeld? I’d rather see Bruno. It makes logical sense to give Heidfeld the seat because he is experienced. He is just very predictable.

  43. Rich C says:

    — off topic ——-

    ahahahaha… weren’t we just talking about this the other day?

    >>Ford Suing Ferrari Over F150 Name<<

    http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2011/02/09/ford-suing-ferrari-f/?test=latestnews

    1. Andy C says:

      Brilliant as well that Ferrari now claim it was always just an abbreviation of f-150th.

      I was expecting them to say trademarks don’t apply to us, we are Ferrari :-)

  44. Matt says:

    It would be nice to see the Hulk in a Renault but I feel Heidfeld has always been underrated and still has something to offer. 2008 was a blip: he outperformed Kubica in 2007 and generally matched him 2009, and throughout his career has stood his ground against heavyweights such as Webber and Raikkonen. Personally, I think he deserves another chance.

  45. zombie says:

    Nick Heidfeld must be the luckiest and unluckiest driver in history of F1! It is amazing how opportunities just open up for him when everything looks lost, and yet it is equally alarming how he never seems to get a full chance to show his true potential.

    Senna and Petrov in a car that could well be in the championship running is a no-brainer for me.If i were Eric Boullier, i’d hire ‘quick Nick’ in a jiffy. A close second choice would be the other German,Nico Hulkenberg.Senna’s got money and a famous lastname and thats about it.

  46. Hingo says:

    I don’t rate Heidfeld at all. With his experience, he should have been faster than Kobayashi but wasn’t. He has had plenty of chances but always been rather ordinary. I would give the job to Senna as he drove a dog of a car, had no testing but still managed to do a decent job.

  47. Disgrace says:

    James, as much as we all know that Heidfeld is proven, solid F1-worthy driver, (who I believe can win races) would you subscribe to the view that not hiring Senna or Grosjean would come across as a slap in the face?

    They are contracted third drivers and I fail to understand why Renault has really hired them if not to race when required. They lack in experience, yes, but surely that is as much a turn-off from the testing role just as much as the racing one.

    As much as Quick Nick deserves to be in F1 (and if he thrashes Senna at this testing evaluation then fair enough really), it would speak a lot about the team if they took a punt. Otherwise, it would render the third driver role utterly void. I hope for the career of Senna that he actually earns his shot this week because otherwise, I can’t see much point of him staying at the team, rotting on the sidelines like Badoer did when Ferrari snubbed him back in 1999.

  48. brucerap says:

    Since Kimi already has Red Bull sponsorship, wouldn’t it be intriguing to see him partner Vettel at RB and have Webber loaned out to Renault…

  49. Dave Aston says:

    I reckon Heidfeld is easily the best option. He’s not an absolute ace, but he’ll do the job. Even if the Hulk were available, I see him as a little inconsistent and inexperienced, even though I think he has a really bright future. Lets face it, it’s a joke he’s not in a Williams this year. Great to hear Bob K’s condition improving, what a legend! Hey James Allen, great work over the last few days, as usual.

  50. Badrel says:

    Let’s not forget about money. Senna is already at LRGP and Heidfeld would like be have a seat in F1 car again, so he will probably accept reasonable salary to get a chance. IMHO Raikkonen would cost too much, similarly ‘buying out’ a driver from other team could be expensive.
    Hard to say what LRGP sponsors think about the situation (apart from their compassion, they must think about business as well) but I assume that some of them aren’t happy that the team lost Kubica month before the start of the season. Thus LRGP may be under the pressure right now. Fortunately they have Russian money from Pietrow and Lotus Group as a sponsor, but definitively they will need more to keep developing the car during the season.
    Heidfeld has good ‘ability/cost ratio’ so it is optimal choice at the moment.

  51. A.B. Normal says:

    James, Heidfeld seems the judicious choice, but IF Senna were to have more pace than Heidfeld in Jerez, do you think there is any chance that Renault would give him the drive?

      1. James, with the track evolving throughout the test, would the driver testing first be at a disadvantage?

        Not only would Sunday’s driver have the benefit of a more rubbered-in track but also an extra day of setup information. Seems to me that could make a direct comparison problematic.

    1. Mr Anderson says:

      Thats a really interesting point, we’ll all be watching the times closely!
      On a seperate note, I think Petrov’s present was a nice thought….hope we get more good news on RK soon.

  52. Pawel says:

    Robert is fantastic driver and man (not robot).
    In order to understand how unlucky he was in the accident please have a look at youtube link where you can see accident simulation:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMt5w1I_e4E

  53. Paddy says:

    Bruno Senna, He has no experience but it would be awesome same car as his uncle, i might even get a bit teary eyed.

    On the other hand we have Quick Nick is the most boring guy formula 1 ever has seen. Why give him another chance, so we can have 5 Germans on the grid no sorry 6WTF. Nothing against Germans but come on, its a world championship.

    Also Bruno’s uncle is also kind of an Formula1 GOD and we need to make a sacrifice to him, so he will give us the best season of all time.

    Lotus don’t worry about the points you will have a Senna in your car. If he is good, think of the coin you will make and the championships you will win. NO TO NICK

  54. Jason says:

    Heidfeld has had his chance, he’s been in F1 for ten years and doesn’t really have much to show for it, yes he’s good at bringing the car home but thats about it, renault need someone that going to go for it with every fibre of there being, I just don’t see Heidfeld accomplishing that. F1 has far to many drivers that are well past there use by date, it’s time to start bringing in some fresh talent, this is a perfect opportunity for Senna and Hulkenberg, I hope one of those two gets the opportunity to show what they are capable of.

  55. Johnty says:

    Heidfeld needs to shave this year if he wants the Renault seat. Ever since he has had his wild man beard he has driven pretty ordinary. Sure this reply has no substance just wanted to say what I have thought for sometime.

  56. Olivier says:

    A very tricky one:

    Heidfeld could develop Kubica’s 2012 car AND be a great mentor to Petrov.

    On the other hand. Heidfeld will be driving Kubica’s car. I don’t know how much their driving style match? Wasn’t Heidfeld (driving Pedro’s car) outperformed by Kobayashi last season?

    Senna does deserve a chance. But will he be able to develop Kubica’s 2012 car? Renault cannot afford to waste two years …

    1. Mario says:

      I like your approach. You do not even consider Kubica’s carrier is in doubt.

      1. Olivier says:

        Well, if he were human I would …

    2. Mr Anderson says:

      Kubica’s 2012 car – I like that.

  57. Real says:

    Heidfeld would have to be the favourite here given his experience, which Renault needs. And his experiences as Pirelli tyre tester would no doubt be invaluable.

    But I can’t help thinking that the team should try to lure Raikkonen, he would be a massive drawcard and he’s got charisma as Kubica does, unlike Heidfeld or any other potential candidates.

  58. Mario says:

    Kubicas come back this season would be a miracle. Well, I do believe exactly this is what’s going to happen.

    It seems to me the Renault team momentum is very much still going strong despite what’s happened.
    They are doing a good job.

  59. Dale says:

    If they choose Heidfield they want their heads testing, so us and the world you mean business and go for Kimi or how about bringing Montoya back he’d certainly get them headlines and press coverage.

  60. Heidfeld disappointed the Sauber management, as well as me personally, when he suddenly found 3 tenths out of nowhere when Kubica replaced the slower Villeneuve at BMW. They were most displeased that he hadn’t been giving his utmost and I think you have to count that against him as a driver.

    Personally I don’t think he was ever the after that motorbike knocked him down in 2005. I’d guess it made him realise that he was mortal after all: something that racing drivers normally don’t even think about. He never looked like Quick Nick again, to my eyes.

    I do think he’s by far Renault’s best bet, though. They’re pushing the envelope with this car, it’ll need maximum developent time and good technical feedback. The blown floor could also make it a touch unpredictable to drive. Renault need a safe pair of hands and they don’t come any safer than Heidfeld, and even though he might not be as quick as he once was he’s still far from slow.

    I think having spent a year largely on the sidelines after being so close to winning with BMW in 2008 will spur him on. He desperately wants to end his career with some wins to his name and Renault might just have a car capable of delivering them. If he gets this seat, I think we’ll see him drive above himself in 2011.

    1. James Allen says:

      It was more than 3/10ths…

  61. Vic says:

    Can’t they give Senna the first 4 races and then pull in Heidfeld if does poorly?

    Vic

  62. Mr Anderson says:

    Renault are a racing team, and I believe they will make their decision as racers, not marketers. I think having Senna in the car on Fridays should satisfy the sponsors, and therefore they are free to make their decision on pace alone.

    Having said that, I believe that Senna has the potential to be very quick. Remember Ross Brawn came close to signing him for Brawn for the 2009 season, and I believe he was set for the drive until Honda pulled out. Therefore, I think it’ll be a close call. Renault may decide to run each driver with different fuel loads/tyres etc, so the wider world can’t see instantly who is quicker, less pressure that way too. I hope there will be enough clues for James to figure out who was quickest!

  63. Z says:

    If Boullier hinted at a long term choice, I really doubt that means Heidfeld? According to everyone, he would be a “solid choice”, which is just to fill the void for now. Long term, they’d look to get someone like Senna or Hulk to get as much experience as possible.

    I’m not quite sure how developments of the car during the year depend solely on driver input either… is this role being blown out of proportion, James?

    Did Renault do a miracle development job last year due to R&D and engineering, or was it more Robert? I think they are experienced enough themselves to develop the car at a reasonable rate, the rate which is probably finally dictated by how quick a driver can validate the result….maybe one of the few reasons to pick Heidfeld – is that enough?

  64. Kedar says:

    Is there a chance that they bring back JV?
    I remember he did some races in the Renault when Flavio fired Trulli.
    And if Renault pulled that off and Kimi were to return there would be 7 World champions on the grid.
    Not likely though but would really be interesting

  65. Tyler says:

    I dont see how Senna’s one year in a sub standard car qualifies him for a full time drive in a top flight team. And fail to see where “deserve” has anything do with it either. I find that laughable.

    I like Heidfeld and hope he gets the drive. I want to see him win just win one race! If you recall Williams chose him over Pizzonia for his development skill and technical feedback, and how many races ago was that…he has only improved surely. It seems this is always mentioned about him wherever he goes. Renault would benefit from Heidfeld much more than from giving a rookie a chance because he “deserves” it. However as bad as I hate to admit it, I have seen the lack of X factor, that he seems content to stay put during a race etc. These are valid observations. If given this chance he needs to find some fire and make the most of it…his days and continual second chances are numbered.

  66. Andrew says:

    I’m not sure I agree with all this talk of Nick having had his chances etc. I feel he lost a drive in 2010 due his belief he would get one Mercedes. While he may not be as showy and wild as some of the others on the grid but he is proven time and again that he can bring the car home in the points. He has proven that he can move up the grid during the race such as Malaysia 05 and Great Britain 08. Senna stuggled to beat his various team mates during his first year.

  67. Andy C says:

    Anybody else just think that senna might get tge drive. Despite the odds. In a very wierd way I just wonder whether it is meant to be…

    I firmly believe he is the best bet. Renault need to look long term here, as if (big if I know) Robert is able to recover and reach the same level he will move into one of the very top level f1 teams.

    If Bruno doesn’t get it, I would imagine he will be pretty hacked off as the reserve driver.

    James, any confirmation of the running order yet for sat/sun? Nick or Bruno?

    1. James Allen says:

      Not seen anything yet. Check the Lotus Renault twitter feed

      1. Andy C says:

        Yep. Been watching it.

        Do you think they will make a decision after Jerez, as to me they want to find out as much as they can about Roberts condition. They originally said after both tests…

  68. shortshighted says:

    I have never been very impresssed by Heidfeld. It seems to be the same with team principals as otherwise, he would be driving for a F1 team already instead of waiting in the sideline. I say for Boullier to swallow his pride and bag to bring back Kimi Raikkonen. Now that Renault appears to have a good car this year, it is important for them to make full use of it to get as many points as possible to have a bigger cut of the TV money cake. May be it is time for Renalut to think about changing their team principal if he cannot bring in a good enough driver to carry the team forward to fame and fortune.

  69. Robb says:

    Just thought I’d throw something out there I hadn’t yet seen in this thread, tires and driving style.
    I read somewhere, that in Nick, and Robert’s first year together, Nick could outperform Robert because the Michelin (I think) tires were pretty soft and unstable, which suited Nick’s smooth style better than Robert’s.
    The following year’s Bridgestones were more stable, allowing Robert to make full use of his more agressive style, while Nicks smooth style had trouble, especially in qualifying, getting heat in the tires.
    It looks like this year’s tire may again suit smooth drivers like Jenson and Nick… so having a solid, and experienced driver, who’s driving style suits the tires might work out pretty well for renault.

    Rob

  70. Paul D says:

    In 2008 in GP2 Senna outpaced Di Grassi, Grosjean, Maldonado, Buemi, Petrov, Chandhok and Kobayashi. He finished ahead of all of them in the title race.

    In Honda testing at the end of 2008 he was faster than Barrichello but Brawn went with the experience. He is a class act that deserves a chance much more than Heidfeld.

    Senna just could be something special and one thing we know for sure is that Heidfeld certainly isn’t.

    1. Rodrigo says:

      Actually Di Grassi scored more points per race than Senna, but he did not start all the races cause he had a job as Renault reserve.

      Di Grassi also impressed honda’s engineers more than Senna at that late 2008 test.

  71. DPM says:

    Strikes me that Kubica would be the best person to judge Heidfelds capabilities having been in the same equipment for a few seasons – perhaps he’s had some influence on the choice.

    1. Rich C says:

      Except that he’s been in an induced coma and then heavily medicated.

      1. Peter C says:

        I don’t think that RK is sitting up in hospital

        working out Team strategy.

  72. Alexx says:

    imo having more friday young driver and testing in season with young drivers only aloowed, would also allow young drivers to get the experience in f1 to handle taking over should they need to.

    F1 needs less ‘factory simulator’ drivers and more real test track drivers.

    James, isnt Badoer still available for reanult! lol

  73. DPM says:

    Really! What I meant was that don’t you think his assessment of Heidfeld would have been sought when Renault were looking to fill the second seat before Petrov was confirmed?

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