Heidfeld back in F1, Raikkonen to follow next year?
Scuderia Ferrari
Heidfeld back in F1, Raikkonen to follow next year?
Posted By: James Allen  |  14 Sep 2010   |  4:53 pm GMT  |  137 comments

Sauber confirmed today that it has struck a deal with Nick Heidfeld to replace Pedro de la Rosa for the remaining races of the 2010 season.

One would expect that if this works out well, he may be retained next season alongside Kamui Kobayashi, who has already been signed. One problem is that de la Rosa’s car has already used 9 engines this season, so Heidfeld could be rather on the back foot when it comes to engine penalties with five events still to go.

This abrupt late season switch is reminiscent of 2006, when Sauber replaced another older driver whose hiring that season had surprised many people; Jacques Villeneuve.

Heidfeld started the year as a Mercedes reserve driver, but quit to lead the Pirelli testing programme. He has done two tests to date and has now grabbed the opportunity to race again with Sauber. Although he will have some idea of the characteristics of the Pirelli tyres from those two tests, it is early days and his information to the Sauber designers will be of use, but its relevance will decrease as the programme evolves.

It will be interesting to see whether Pirelli now decide to take Pedro de la Rosa on to continue the development programme. He is a very experienced test driver, having covered hundreds of thousands of kilometres in the role. He may take the tyres in a different direction.

De la Rosa has had a tough season. Sauber is prone to the odd left field driver choice and has historically tended to like either older experienced drivers or raw rookies. He gave Kimi Raikkonen his first run in F1, ironically in 2001 alongside Heidfeld, and today’s other news is that the 2007 champion has been in contact with Renault about a possible return next season.

Raikkonen has been in rallying this year, driving for the Citroen junior team with backing from Red Bull. “It is true that the summer has passed and we have had more and more requests – and the guy you mentioned [Raikkonen] is on the radar now,” Boullier told Autosport. “He is on the radar because he contacted us.”

Raikkonen: Has he unfinished business? (Darren Heath)

The first thought that springs into ones mind is money; Robert Kubica is one of the middle ranking earners in F1, on around €7-8 million a year, but Raikkonen has been used to earning €30million plus. So if he is serious about a return to F1 he will have to lower his expectations, even if Renault pulls in a title sponsor to cover some of the costs.

The second question is, do they need him? Renault lie 5th in the constructors’ championship table, 31 points behind Mercedes. But most of these points have come from Kubica, just as most of Mercedes’ points are from Rosberg. Renault would like Vitaly Petrov to succeed, but he has had two poor weekends in a row at a bad time and seems to find it hard to string a whole Grand Prix weekend together consistently.

McLaren has shown the benefits of having two top drivers and if they can afford it, hiring Raikkonen would seem a smart move. He’s not political so wouldn’t trouble Kubica much, other than keeping him on his toes. Raikkonen will be 31 at the start of next season, a few months older than Jenson Button and two years older than Fernando Alonso, so he still has plenty of good years in him and if he’s serious about a return it must be because he’s had a good think about where he went wrong last time.

If you look at performance charts of achievement by drivers, Raikkonen’s ratio of 18 wins and 62 podiums in 156 starts is very strong.

There is still some confusion about the finances of the Renault F1 team, after it leaked out that they had asked for an advance on their share of the F1 commercial rights from Bernie Ecclestone, a request which was denied.

At the time the team explained it away by saying that they had a cash flow issue, as payments from some of the new sponsors they had signed, such as Chinese solar company Trina Solar, were not due until later this year.

It has been suggested that internet entrepreneur Gerard Lopez, who holds 75% of the team and is a long time friend of Ecclestone, may be keeping the franchise warm while Renault, which owns 25%, considers whether a full scale return to the sport is viable. Renault themselves say that there is no substance to this story and that Renault are very happy as things are.

My sources suggest that Renault is waiting to see how the share of revenues under the new 2013 Concorde Agreement is resolved.

If the teams are successful in what is likely to be a hard fought and bitter negotiation, and manage to raise their share of the total revenues from 50% to more like 75%, which would make F1 more cost neutral – or even profitable – to participants, then it would be much more attractive.

Either way this will not have happened by next season and so if Raikkonen is offering his services – and one would have to question why team principal Eric Boullier would want to admit that to Autosport at this early stage – it will likely be a Renault team set up essentially as it is today.

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If the rumors of Briatore going to Ferrari in Domenicali’s place, with Alonso as his client, which could put more money in FB’s pocket depeneding on how FA finishes for the year, I take back everything I said about wanting Ferrari to honor the last year of Kimi’s contract. In fact, run as fast as you can the other way, Kimi. But I doubt that Ferrari would actually catch themselves in that kind of mess.


Reading the comments of some Renault people I very much doubt that the deal will work out. Besides I think that Kimi´s true intention is to keep on rallying next year.

Shame as I miss him at F1 and he could still rally in 2 or 3 years 🙁


Think Heidfeld’s decision to drop the testing role in favour of a place of the grid reflects the fact that he’s a racer – just driving a F1 car is not really enough.

With his luck though, I’ll bet that he again misses out on a top drive for next year (as he did this year, when Schumacher grabbed the drive at Mercedes). What will happen is that Schumacher will delay making a decision on 2011 until testing the new car starts. By then Heidfeld will have signed with Sauber again to avoid being left out for another year.

Schuey will bail because of lack of front-end grip, and Raikkonen will stroll back into a Mercedes… which will turn out to be blindingly quick as all Brawn-led cars eventually are.


I think what Renault is doing here is ‘Regaining Credibility’. For since the Mass Damper Saga, they have always been looked upon rather suspiciously and then Singapore came and they became a Taboo Team.

They have a serious car and their development has been rather surprisingly refreshing in terms of innovating and applying fresh ideas on their car.

They have a very quick driver in Kubica and I feel he took up Renault only as a last resort after BMW announced its exit at the point when all competitive teams had firmed up their drivers. If Kubica had a chance to drive for anyone else, I feel he wouldn’t have opted for Renault strictly on the grounds of their credibility and the Taboo factor.

However, Kubica’s drivers and some intelligent designs and development has resorted some credibility and to a certain degree a sense of sympathy post Flavio, Alonso, Symonds and Piquet’s era.

Yet their is a serious credibilty deficit that looms over this team. The evidence of which was second grid place at Monaco by Kubica and occassional strong drives have failed to stir up the deserved restoration of value for the team.

Kimi Raikkonnen is a big name. Bigger than Renault. Atleast for the fans. So the story leak of dialouge with Kimi by Eric was another attempt to cry out to the F1 faternity and more over the fans to take Renault seriously since Raikkonen is.

This is nothing but a strategy employed by us in the corporate world which is called ‘Trust-Deficit-Errosion’.

So I feel this is what is happening here.

Kimi, is exploring all the possibilities. With Pirelli comming in next. Its a year of learning for everyoene, Teams, Drivers, Engineers etc. which gives a level playing field and drivers with natural talent will excel and it is unanimous that there is no better natural talent then Kimi Raikkonen in the current F1.

I think Renault should offer him a race seat. For I feel the sheer marketabilty and credibitly (as a clean driver) that Kimi brings is most needed for the team.

If they don’t its a long long journey for Renault to restore their image overall.

Since I’m on the topic of Renault. I think they should change their colour scheme since their current colour scheme is exactly of that of Jordan. I think reverting to their Pale Yellow would help them in re-establishing their independent identity, since they already have an established history in the Pale Yellow colour scheme.


I believe Kimi has some unfinished business in F1.He produced some stunning drives in the later half of the 2009 season.

The present Renault is better than the last year’s Ferrari F60.Kimi would have thought if I am able to win in a car like F60 why can’t i win in the Renault?

Kimi belongs to F1…


Kimi is a moody driver. He can have a brilliant 2011 or a very bad one. He is very expensive too, thus making him a unsafe bet. Would he agree to drive alongside Kubica? Surely not! If he will replace the Pola, would he be better than Kubica and take Renault back in the championship title fight? Hard to say, I’d incline towards “no”.


It seems like Renault have been using Kimi’s name for PR. Steve Robertson has confirmed that he did call Renault, but that he is also checking out every opportunity in F1 and WRC for Kimi for next year. It is his job to find as many possibilities as possible for Kimi to choice from. Although he totally denies the Nascar rumours.


If Renault is looking for someone who is “commercially viable” as well as able to maintain harmony within the team and be personable with the public, is sufficiently quick, and can reliably bring the car home in one piece, they should consider Karun Chandhok.


I agree with this – Chandhok would be a good choice.

Surprising he isnt racing for force india.

but re raikonnen and renault – just from reading their comments – I dont know if the Renault management know what they are doing in F1.


Agreed, and for Lopez to come out and say they want to fight for the championship next season is very bold, almost foolish, considering they haven’t even won a race this season.

I’d love to see Kubica fighting for the championship, but unless they have some trick design for 2011, it is still a huge uphill battle for Renault to even be considered a threat win races on a regular basis, let alone a championship.


I’d be surprised if Renault took Kimi. I think Petrov has shown some promise… and cash. If not, Sutil probably deserves it. I’d have had Kamui; I wonder where he’ll end up if he continues his form through next year? I’d love to see him in a Red Bull…


I dont think Petrov has shown that much he has scored 19 points to Kubica’s 109, that is a big difference. There is still some question marks about Sutil, he was beaten by Fisi. Out of those three options Kamui is definitely the most interesting one. Kimi would obviously do better then all of them, it is a bit of a no brainer. But it would be great to see Kimi at a team like Red Bull.


Given that Gerard Lopez also recently made the statement that “There is a winning mentality back in the team,” the public negotiation with Raikkonen could also be a way to leverage their position with other Petrov replacements that we currently do not know about. There must be many other drivers who have been knocking on Renault’s door.


Surely Kimi understands he can’t get the same money that he got from Ferrari! You have to put it into context, his Ferrari contract was initially made when F1 in general was very hot and many teams were spending ridiculous amounts of money. That has changed since then simply because of the world-wide recession – it has nothing to do with the drivers, it is not their choice! The teams pay as much as they think they can pay, it was totally fair game that Kimi had a huge salary.

Now it is totally fair game too that he can’t get the same money, nobody can. It’s fair, and if you think Kimi is so stupid that he won’t understand this, then I think you are very wrong.

Kimi is much more interested in what kind of a car can they offer him. His priority is to win – he has said this enough times in public, but somehow people seem to miss it.


Do they need him? Hell yes! Any team would be mad nit to have him. I’ve posted on here many a time sticking up for Kimi and F1 needs him badly.


Well i have always rated nick as a very good driver and a decent racer too as well as being very very smart. i thought his move to pirelli tester was absolutely spot on for securing his future with a decent team for next year.

so i cannot understand why he has so willingly dropped that role to race a clearly under-performing and unreliable car for a handful of races – what can he prove that he didn’t already show with BMW Sauber? did his heart over-rule his head on this one? clearly all of these guys are born racers and don’t want a testing career, but i think if he’d stuck with pirelli, he’d be driving for a top team next year. now, sadly i think he’ll be lucky to be racing at all in 2011.


Does anyone else think it may be a bit of “chest-beating” by Boullier to show that Renault are a “big” team and can attract the biggest and best names in the F1 world.

I can’ help but think if there was a serious chance of Kimi returning he would not be talking about it in the press, they would be looking to keep it quiet till THEY could break the news that he is returning with Renault.

I think it’s nothing but a bit of a hurry up to Petrov that he isn’t safe for next season.


If Kimi returns and Webber wins this season, and Schumacher stays, we’ll have 6 F1 Champions (Kimi, Schumi, Alonso, Button, Webber, Button and Lewis) on the grid in 2011. I don’t think that’s happened before.


Also, if Webber or Vettel win it this year, we’ll have 4 consecutive years of drivers winning their first title. ’61-’64 was four, P Hill-G Hill-Clark-Surtees. I guess the record is five from ’78-82, Andretti-Scheckter-Jones-Piquet-Rosberg?


Raikkonen – Kubica pairing would be a big statement, in my opinion the strongest line up.


I agree with James on the last sentence on Boullier. This Boullier guy is actually acts very strange. In two seperate interviews he has almost put the whole blame on Renault’s lack of success in the last 2 years to Alonso, saying he was not motivated and just waiting for the Ferrari move. Then after Spa he says to a French source that they contacted Kimi. And now he shouts out loud for Autosport that its ‘a certain driver by the name Raikkonen’ contacted them and their priority is Petrov and what not.

Dont think Kimi will be interested to work with this guy.


Not sure how Kubica would feel about this! Renault came out and said they want to build the team around him. Brining in Kimi may undermine that if he starts putting in the results. Although the working relationship will be fine as Kimi is not a trouble maker like some others in the paddock.


If Raikkonen was to return it would be every world champion since 2000. Plus the 94/95 titles of schumi.

That would be 13 world titles

Schumacher 7

Alonso 2

Raikkonen 1

Hamilton 1

Button 1

+ the 2010 champion on the 2011 Grid.

Have we ever seen that before?


Who owns the Renault engine? is it Lopez or Renault themselves?

Red Bull may want to keep Kimi on their books, but use him as payment for an engine next year.

He has defiantly shown potential in the WRC, and next year with the raft of new cars coming through he could be in a better position with the playing field somewhat levelled. realistically though will he win the WRC with Citroen before Loeb retires? I think not. Over the next 2-3 year the WRC has new manufacturers joining, I’m guessing Red Bull will move to VW when they announce their WRC participation maybe Kimi will do a couple of years for Renault then move back to the WRC for VW Red Bull??? That said why am I trying to map out the next 3 years of a Kimi’s life when it looks like he doesn’t have a clue himself yet!!


Renault own the engine division 100%


So Renault Automotive sell will in 2011 sell engines to, Red Bull, Lotus and in some form Renault F1. How far off turning a profit is this division of the business?

Following the recent news about strong financial year for Brawn I’d love to see an article about the reality of F1 teams finances. Yes some teams have lost money in the past few years, but I have a feeling there are some who are doing pretty well!


I doubt Quick Nick’s Sauber deal will extend to 2011. Peter Sauber has been making noises about sponsors for next year, one has to assume this is likely to be Telmex, who will likely arrive with a Sergio Perez or similar. That said I don’t think the ART Sauber link up is dead, Jules Bianchi is deserving of a seat.

My opinion, there are too many rookies with backing on the scene for Quick Nick to be in contention for next year’s seat. That said he is definitely deserving of the 2010 seat, if he manages to overcome the penalties he’ll be awarded before stepping into the car it could work out well for him!!

Mercedes now I have links to a driver who has tested the 2011 concept tyres and will have driven the current Ferrari engine. sounds like an asset they may wish to hold on to!!

The return of Kimi would be fantastic, where would Renault be this year had they had 2 top drivers? could they have challenged Ferrari for 3rd?? I think so!


The way Renault has announced this news seems a bit strange. It is also strange that the Finish media didn’t really comment on this, not even Heiki Kulta who usually knows what Kimi is up to. That being said I do get the feeling that the Robertsons are planning something, they have really been biding their time. I think there might still be an option for that Red bull seat. Red bull have manufactured a fast car for two years in a row, it is difficult to create such a good car. But if a team is able to provide a championship winning car the drivers must be able to deliver the results. If Red Bull doesn’t win the WDC this year with the car they have, surely you can expect some heads to roll. Even if Webber did win the WDC surely it can only sour the relationships within the team, when Vettel was suppose to be the WDC.

Kimi’s PR spokes said, when he was contacted because of the Renault rumours, that there is still a lot of rumours to come. My guess is that silly season might still become a lot more interesting.


Good for Nick, that elusive first win is just around the corner.

Fantastic news for Kimi, Renault and F1 fans alike. Would love to see him back in a F1 car doing what he does best.

The current field is one of the strongest for many years, having another world champion will strengthen the F1 brand and generate more excitement on the track. I suggest he would fare much better than Schumi, let’s hope the R31 continues to make up ground on the top teams next season.


Oh happy days…

1) Kimi may come back

2) BBC considers axing Legard

I can’t ask for a better day.



It is curious to me that most readers define the Renault as a 5th place team… yet Red Bull is running their HUGELY reliable engine and will likely win the constructors championship.

Doubtful this is lost on anyone seeking a drive next year. Kubica has proven that the car, in the right circumstances, is fast and podium worthy.

In comparative terms, I would rate Renault Engineering as the team of the season, having moved their 2009 dogsled into a very competitive and durable race car. They finished 2009 in 8th position… and look a solid 5th for 2010.

Also, the season isn’t over yet! However, with Kubica at 108pts. and Petrov at 19pts. it should be obvious that the disparity rests with Renault’s driver pairing.

Raikkonen with Kubica would make for a competitive team next year. It’s probably already a done deal!


Andrew C.

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