F1 Winter Break
Renault confirms Bruno Senna will race for team in Belgian GP
Posted By: James Allen  |  24 Aug 2011   |  8:03 pm GMT  |  101 comments

Less than 24 hours before the drivers are due in the Spa Francorchamps paddock for the FIA Press Conference, Renault has confirmed that Bruno Senna will race for the team this weekend.

A brief statement said only that he would race in Spa in place of Nick Heidfeld and that he would be in the press conference. The team will announce more details in due course.

The news was first broken by BBC’s Eddie Jordan on Monday and comes after a disappointing campaign for Heidfeld, who was drafted in to replace the injured Robert Kubica. Senna drove in Hungary on Friday morning as a prelude to this opportunity. Like his former HRT team mate Karun Chandhok in Germany, he is being given a chance to show what he can do over a race weekend.

There have been suggestions from team principal Eric Boullier that he would like to run Romain Grosjean in the car this year, the French/Swiss driver is managed by Gravity, which is part of the Genii group that owns the Renault team.

At the same time, Genii announced earlier this month an important strategic tie up with WWI Group, to create a $10 billion investment partnership. As the statement said, “The two companies will focus on private equity investments in Energy, Renewable Energy, Real Estate, Information Technology, Telecommunications, Oil, Gas and the Automotive sector. Their association gives birth to the 8th most powerful private equity investment company in South America.”

The idea is to get Brazilian investors to diversify their portfolios, so it’s very much Brazil focussed.

Clearly Bruno Senna being from such a significant Brazilian family, there must be some positive connections here, but it’s not clear at this point whether he will hold on to the seat to the end of the season or whether Grosjean will get a run once he’s clinched the GP2 title. For a driver, Senna is a very good communicator and an effective operator in social and business situations.

Long term the driver situation is fluid; Renault still has to wait on Kubica who is in rehabilitation after his rally accident. There is talk of him trying out an F1 simulator in the next month to assess the repair to his damaged bones and nerves.

This weekend marks the 50th race since Renault’s last win in F1.

Heidfeld is on the sidelines again, a position he’s become accustomed to. He had a great podium at the start of the year in Malaysia, but since then he’s not had a great run, with five further points finishes, but retiring from three of the last five races. He has been outqualified 8-3 by Vitaly Petrov and sits two points ahead of him on 34 points. Renault are 14 points behind Mercedes in the constructors championship and 31 points ahead of Sauber, so Mercedes are probably the most relieved by today’s news as it makes it less likely that they will be caught for fourth place with Petrov and Senna in the Renault, even though Schumacher sits below the Renault drivers in the table currently.

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Personally I think this is a short sighted move by Renualt, I cannot see Senna doing better in a car that is average at best and I am pretty much 100% prepared to stand by this.

I don't think it's fair to blame Heidfield for retiring from 3 of the last 5 races (I realise you are reporting this as it is a fact, and no doubt Renault will use the same excuse) -

In Canada I think alot of the blame could be laid at the door of Kobayashi where he suddenly slowed up leaving Heidfield with nowhere really to go, plus he was unlucky his front wing failed and went under the car.

In Germany the accident with Buemi's fault, as proven by the 5 place grid drop at Hungary.

And in Hungary he couldn't be blamed for the car going up in flames and then exploding.

So it's certainly not driver fault, more drivers have been at fault for worse this year and kept their seat. Granted he hasn't qualified as well as Petrov, but he has more points and that's what matters at the end of the day in my opinion.

Perhaps Renault should focus on making a better car and improving it as the year goes on, instead of letting Sauber and Force India get the game on them.


Plus one.

From a sporting perspective, Heidfeld should be driving. He could do much more if they gave him a car that he can qualify, and he is their leading driver anyway, points wise.

However, Genii is a private equity firm and there is only thing that private equity is interested in and that's dollars. This move is nothing other than that. Prospective Renault drivers should take note.


Did you read James article? Brazilian investors would be more likely to partner a team that gives a chance to a Brazilian rather than one that carries on with a German driver who never set the F1 world alight.

F1 is as much as business as it is a sport. If there are no advantages perceived in running Heidfeld, it makes sense Rfor enault to give a chance to @BSenna.


I did read the article yes, but perhaps I belong to an era where I view a drivers merit on how many points they can bring to a team, not how much money. Obviously there isn't such a place for talent in the modern sport, and that is a shame.

Senna will spend most of the year trying to work out how to get the best out of the average Renault, probably missing out on prospective points and then letting other teams catch them up in the WCC. Obviously they need the money more than they need the money from the standings in the WCC but there we go - short sightedness doesn't always work.


Agree and both ur posts..shame Heidfeld isn't driving..although to be frank I do like to see how Senna gets on in a car that is better than the HRT..

Carlos E. Del Valle

I think it´s more related to expectations. Heidfeld is good, but is old and probably doesn't have anything more to offer than what he has already done. Bruno is younger, and most probably won't be that better or worse anyway, so he has the benefit of the doubt.

James touched the fact that Bruno is eloquent and communicates well. Renault could have thought that if does the same job as Heidfeld, but has more charisma and brings some money, it could be better for them.

I mean something like the Raikkonen/Alonso situation, only in smaller scale. Sometimes a driver is good but is so cold that some teams would prefer someone equally good but that transcends a better image of action... 😉


First off, I am happy for Senna. I always though he got a raw deal in HRT, and it will be good to see him in midfield machinery, at least.

However, I think it's a shame that they are letting Nick go. From what I heard, he assisted greatly with the development of the car and it's a shame that they are ditching him now in favour of someone who brings along significant marketing value.

If they also give Grosjean a shot, they can kiss any chance of that car getting points goodbye, as by the time Senna is fully up to speed, he will be on the sidelines watching Grojean get up to speed just in time for the season to end.

Frankly, I think they are giving up on points in order to get some sponsorship dollars. Nick scores points, but I think Renault wants press and they want sponsors. Sponsors pay now, whereas points pay later.

That being said, I do think that both Senna and Grosjean deserve another shot, as their first shots were rather unfair. I just think it's unfortunate that Nick again has to sit aside for someone bringing money.

Mark in Australia

Speaking of points paying... Does anyone know roughly what an F1 win, or equally what an F1 point is worth in a dollar value?

Or is it an intangible quantity???


I'm not sure if it's actually points, or if it's standings in the WCC that are the deciding factor for the TV money split.

Either way, they get 50% of the TV money, likely in WCC order, as well as prize money for each race, which comes from the circuit fee. Somewhere in there is also a little equation that dictates how much each team gets paid based on the time they've been involved.

Therefore Ferrari gets a huge amount, Williams gets a good chunk, not sure about Team Lotus/1Malaysia Racing (do they get money based on their Team Lotus moniker, or is 1Malaysia considered a new team?), but HRT wouldn't get much.

It's pretty murky, and I don't think it's published anywhere what the breakdown is, dollar-by-dollar.


"From what I heard, he assisted greatly with the development of the car"

Assisted in helping the car go from podiums to fireballs? A very backhanded compliment!


Haha, I don't think he helped with the development of the thickness of the exhaust pipes and thermal properties of the bodywork around it... 😉


My thoughts exactly Malcolm 🙂


Too be honest I think the Renault team need to spend more time looking at the problems within the team, i.e the dog of a car there running this year.


I've always regarded Heidfeld as a great racer, but with an Achilles Heel - his qualifying.

His results this year, however, have been pretty disappointing. I was impressed by his technique with KERS to keep Hamilton behind in Malaysia, but several times his strategy left him with apparently fresh rubber at the end of the race, i.e. he could have performed better with a less conservative approach.


Disappointed for Nick but to be fair, he was given the chance and hasn't really impressed since a strong debut, in qualifying especially.

I can't see either Bruno or Grosjean doing any better than him short-term though.

I also can't see Kubica coming back for 2012 either unfortunately, so where that leaves the team moving forward I don't know.


Is it really Nick not impressing? That presupposes that Petrov is a bit second-rate. I think Petrov is actually a lot better than many assume and Nick's performance is solid in comparison.


"... Schumacher sits below the Renault drivers in the table currently". Not for so long. Go MSC, go!


It will be interesting to see if the speed is there. What do the engineers say about his driving style?


Although I'm a big Heidfeld fan, it was clear the team were turning against him. Nick is better off racing for BMW in DTM now.

I am happy that Senna gets a decent opportunity now. I would have thought Senna would have Spa, Monza and Interlagos and Grosjean would race in the remaining races of the year.


"I’m a big Heidfeld fan"


I am glad he is gone,as the great Gilles used to say:there are racing drivers and other who drive racing cars,Heidfeld clearly belongs to the second group.

Let young drivers to show their potential,they can't be worse than Heidfeld.


Right... I think overtaking Alonso, at Monaco, pretty much proves Nick is a racing driver, in every sense of the word.



Of course, Nick is almost indistinguishable from Button, the multi-race winning WDC...


@Brandon You do realise that Alonso was in a Renault at the time, not a Minardi? And as Lewis Hamilton proved this year, overtakes at Monaco are extremely difficult to do.



Haha. That MUST go into a book of F1 quotations..


I have always regarded Heidfeld as Button without the hype.


In that sense Nakajima is a racing driver too. So is anyone else that ever passed Alonso.


Well said. Heidfeld should have walked away at end of 09. He really had nothing left to try to prove again that we hadn't seen him attempt to try and prove but fail before.

Go Bruno! Even if he's not ultimately a great driver..... he won't get as long as Zee Qvick(?) Nick got to not prove he wasn't either.


In 2009, Nick outscored Kubica in the very same car. So do you likewise think that underperforming Kubica should have hung up his helmet after 2009? By your standards, he must have been a failure too, with “nothing left to try to prove.” In fact, for the three consecutive years they raced together, Nick outscored Kubica 140-131.

And Petrov should walk away now too, having been outperformed by loser Heidfeld up to this point in the season.

So if consistently outperforming his team mates with the same hardware isn’t success in your mind, what is?


I'm very happy for Senna as I think he deserves to be given a chance in a car somewhat better than the HRT.

However, I'm quite sure that because of his lack of experience he will not do better than Heidfeld did (though I'd love to be wrong here). This move seems to be a contradiction to Boullier's earlier comments about Renault's desire to catch Mercedes - I don't think they will do it with two inexperienced drivers, unless Mercedes hits some trouble. So for me it only confirms the gossips about Renault having serious financial problems.

As for Grosjean replacing Senna later on - I know he's doing really well in GP2 now and though I thought he wasn't that bad in his Renault short stint, I'm personally not convinced by him and would much prefer Senna to stay till the end of the season. However, these are just my sentuiments 😉


I can't feel sorry for a driver that always manages to see himself without a drive. You have to question his management and the way he carries himself (does he exude confidence?). Anyway odd move from Renault, though, as it's highly unlikely Senna or Grosjean will pull that many points. Good luck to them though.


Brüno is useless as a racer, and only ever managed to come as far as he has on his last name, and not his talent, which indicates a high amount of financial stress at "Renault". Will they be back for 2012?


Um...didn't he come second in GP2...or does a driver have to come first, not to be classed as "useless"?


Even that isn't enough for Maldonado. The fact that Senna was outraced by Klien despite being more familiar with the car bodes poorly for him, though. Hope he proves me wrong, but I feel Heidfeld has been hard done by.


The cars weren't the same last year. the lowered numbers car (which senna drove in all but 1 race), had cheaper version of several parts... e.g. the gearbox.... the sy/ck/kc car had the faster gearbox. Not that a gearbox makes any difference... cough hrm hrm..

I can't remember all that was wrong with the car either.

But your point about it not being enough for Maldo is true, people tend to put a value on drivers based on what they want them to be.

I want Hulkenberg in the seat, most did, he was out, replaced by a guy with money, and naturally everyone then decided that his gp2 was worse than petrovs no wherenear gp2 crown and that Maldos money is bad money etc...

There are some who think that anything less than putting last years hrt on pole is blasphemy against the Senna name


dear goodness,


I'll have a crack at a counter argument.

Senna's father and Uncle died young, he was stopped form racing. He only start mere moons ago, and progressed through the ranks faster than others despite less experience.

He also came 2nd in GP2 which is the same series that brought guys like Kobyashi, Rosberg, Hamilton, etc... all in.

Quite clearly, his name, Senna may have opened doors, but only because they were shut due to his connection with Ayrton and his father stopping him from racing.

He was considered just before the 09 season by Brawn and nearly got it, leading him on into March I think.

He smashed Chandhok in GP2 as teammates and then their were car equality issues at HRT, I think that this is definately a great chance for Senna and hopefully he beats Petrov.

If so, then he has proven his worth, something he hasnt been able to do soe far.


According to Ayrton, Bruno is even better than he was 😉


A bit harsh don't you think?

His name might have helped him get his career going, however

he ended the 2008 GP2 season in second place on his own merit (and in front of Petrov, Grosjean, Kobayashi, Buemi, Maldonado, etc...)


This is the best point on the board. If anything his name is a hinderance I think.

If you look at performace in junior categories against now 'established' F1 names he was much faster.

He more than deserves this chance.


Am I being harsh? Yes, absolutely.

As for his record, his claim to fame is having lost to the only GP2 champion failing to secure an F1 seat. Which, I suppose, means he's a quicker driver than I could hope to be, but still not F1 material.

I don't think anyone (well, many a one) would argue that there are other drivers out there more deserving of a race seat based on their talents.


I think we must not underestimate Petrov's performance this season.

Essentially last year he was seen as a driver bringing money to the team but his last race in 2010 at Abu Dhabi where he held up Alonso ( or should we say Alonso could not overtake him ) showed he was starting to show to some potential.

I think the feeling at the start of this season was that Nick would bring the points, Vitaly would bring the money. Now Vitaly is bringing money and almost the same number of points to the team and can hopefully carry on improving.

Nick can be fast but not always for a whole race. He has had his time and many chances but maybe it is all over now for him, very sad but there is no real sentiment in F1 as everyone knows.

Senna could be like Petrov with the potential for money and points, very important for a team that is struggling and still trying to rebuild in some area such as aero after the Briatore final years.


Sennas uncle once said "if you think im fast wait till you see my nephew"..Will see if the great one was correct.

As for Renault it makes you wonder was Kubica constantly driving beyond the cars ability or are Heidfeld and Petrov showing the cars actual potential.

Overall I think its great that driver movements are taking place as in the past I beleive to many drivers held their seats too long which in the end did not allow for more talent to filter through.

Im sure over the years many cars were held back by the drivers that steered them.

Ricciardo my case in point with HRT. Took 3 races to beat his team mate. New to team, new to F1, faster than team mate. A couple of years back he wouldnt of had a look in and thats also the beauty of these newer teams coming into F1. They give different drivers a chance to showcase their potential.


On that sentiment I suppose we must bid farewell to Rubens?


Yes, I think we should bid farewell to Rubens. What exactly does he add to F1. Oh yes his legendary ability to develop cars, that's working well for Williams right now isn't it? Hulkenberg got the better of him after half a season in his rookie year and now it looks like Maldonado is doing the same, and he's apparently just a "pay driver with a dictator's money". Time to go Rubens, thanks for all the moaning.


Forgive me for being impartial, but I hope he impresses enough to earn a race seat (in a decent car) next year.


I know it sounds harsh, but half the grid should be sacked and new drivers given a chance.

They offer nothing to F1 in any way.


Well, it seems Nick was contracted and didn't want to go, so I'll be rooting for Renault to fail (and here's hoping if Nick sues, he takes them to the cleaners, since this likely ends his F1 career.)

The decision seems idiotic, to me. In races where both drivers have finished, he's beaten his teammate 6:2, and the only two races where Petrov actually finished ahead were in Nick's first three races in a new team. I've heard for years that Nick is a good development driver, and he unquestionably has experience, something utterly lacking in Petrov and Senna.

What does Senna bring to the team? As far as I can see, nothing except some coattail publicity, and a heavy cheque book. He did a prety poor job on his last F1 outing, by all accounts. Not exactly what you want, if you plan on improving your car.

Dumb move, Renault.


If this turns is into a big steaming mess, I can see Tony Fernandez picking Nick up just out of spite.


He's about to sign Joey Barton for QPR so he's obviously open minded!


At 14million euro a pop, Vitaly has paid for his full season me thinks. No chance of prising him out of that car at those prices.


Two pay drivers at Renault then. Clearly serious financial issues?

Nick has done a brilliant job in a car that was designed with Kubica's driving style and racing technique in mind. The car has a clever and innovative design to it, although it has also made the car very fragile (so I guess Genii-Renault-Lotus can claim to be Lotus in the sense it's similar to Chapman's designs...).

Nick has always been a good driver (perhaps on the cusp of greatness) and can deliver the goods. We knows this from his racing from pre-2009.

The thing is without the car, and more importantly the team, behind him, how can he prove his worth? A crying shame. Nick is one of those drivers that perhaps could have been and should have been a champion, just didnt have the wheels for the job.


Yep. I've thought Williams idiotic, spending the past decade with a pay-driver in their lineup, but TWO in a supposedly serious mid-to-top-level team means serious financial problems, methinks.

Feel sorry for Bruno actually. Can't be easy to be in his shoes - he, above all, must know who's better than him and who isn't, so he must be squirming inside every time he gets the nod because of his uncle's rep.


as allen has written in his article........it is clear this has not much of anything to do with driver skill and more to do with business, as usual.


Given Brazils booming economy and its love of F1 I wonder if we will see more Brazilians on the grid soon.

Good luck to Bruno. Would love to see him do well but I do worry about that team. There seems to be a lack of direction and leadership. I like both Senna and Grosjean but they couldnt pick a worse team to make their comebacks.


Is this just for Spa or the rest of the season? If it is for the rest of the season, I really hope Renault fail badly. The way they've treated their drivers has in my opinion been disgraceful - both Petrov last year and Heidfeld this year seemed like they were being constantly bullied by the team.


Indeed they were bullied, no doubts.

They in fact blamed nick for the exhaust failure in Hungary.

Trust me it sucks to be in a team where the owners constantly blame the drivers for even the nuts & bolts failing, rather than concentrating on improving the car.



"They in fact blamed nick for the exhaust failure in Hungary."

what fact? show me where they blamed nick for that exhaust failure, exact quote from renault please

its oversensitive heidfeld fans who twisted boullier/allison words so that they sounded like they blaming anyone

"owners constantly blame the drivers for even the nuts & bolts failing" again quote from renault please, otherwise its just your speculative interpretation


its spa only for now, there should be statement from renault today about rest of the season, and lol how you cry at the way they "treated their drivers", i really hope senna show some quality on track, heidfeld had over 10 years of chances and failed, end of story


I always thought of Nick H as a quick driver who never quite got the break of being in a great car. But this year, either Petrov has matured far more than you'd have thought possible, or NH is struggling to impress. Either way, the car's a dog - even Kubica would struggle to drag it round much faster.

Time to move over Nick & let a younger guy have a go...

If Nick has been giving great development input to the car.... then letting him go might be the signal that Renault are focusing on 2012.


Absurd decision. Senna probably deserves a go in a vaguely competitive car but if he's good to go now, why wasn't he good back in February? I don't see how Heidfeld's season has been disappointing - of all the drivers in the field, Heidfeld is the one that you could expect would do exactly as well as the car is capable of. I hope he's taken Renault to the cleaners for a pay-off.

On a wider note, this seems symptomatic of a slowly dying team. Genii don't really have any money, Lotus Cars' funding will soon run out and Renault themselves have washed their hands of the team. Half the decent people in the team have left. Reliant on Petrov's money and now the hope of Senna netting some, I can't see them lasting in their current form far into next season.


I have to agree with this prophecy of doom. The quick fire driver changes have all hallmarks of a team that is on the skids.

Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't Midland/Spyker do a bit of this in their death throws?

All these drivers had a bash in the car that was ultimately a 2004 Jordan in a fancy frock before the owners cried "enough".

Tiago Monteiro

Narain Karthikeyan

Roman Rusinov

Max Biaggi

Christijan Albers

Markus Winkelhock

Giorgio Mondini

Adrian Sutil

Alexandre Premat

Ernesto Viso

Sakon Yamamoto

Adrian Valles

Faruz Fauzy

Giedo van der Garde


Max Biaggi!?


Yes, if memory serves he did a test at silverstone for Midland. Probably just a publicity stunt.


Heidfeld is 2 points in front of Petrov, 34 to 32.

To drop Heidfeld on performance grounds is thin at best. To replace him with near rookies in the quest for more points is clearly counter productive as it will take Senna or Grosjean time to get up to speed.

Sure, more could be expected from Heidfeld and he has disappointed, but unless there is a top flight driver on the sidelines and ready to stpe in, replacing him makes no sense from a points point of view.

You have to assume then that performance is an excuse (otherwise they would be booting Petrov as well) and the real reason is more about finance and the teams long term security and direction.

It's a shame for Heidfeld. It would have been fair to let him complete the season. Unless Renault change their mind his F1 career is over now. There is plenty of fresh talent about that deserve a chance I don't think Heidfeld has done enough to get a seat for next year. But I never like to see drivers treated badly or as scape goats.


Senna is obviously bringing more money in than Heidfeld can.

Christopher Snowdon

Senna in a Black and Gold Renault car is the medias dream, he'll get good tv coverage and good media coverage. Nick would not bring this!!! Only time he got TV viewing in Hungry was when his car exploded!!!


True. I'm exptecing a feature on most if not all tv stations in each country.

cue archival footage...

cue trailer for Senna

cue clip of him driving renault

cue clip of senna driving renault

cue clip of senna drivng down straight at a track

cue clip of other senna driving down the same straight at that track as if one merges into the other and then back and then back again a few times flickering then a black screen then flicks back a few more times and then becomes Bruno Senna with Ayrton Senna half faded in in the background saying something...

cue presenters misquoting Ayrton's comment about Bruno being fast...

then mention Bruno hasn't had that many years to prepare and then interview with Bruno wearing team sponsors...

Money money money..

Christopher Snowdon

I'm sure we can all agree it'll be great seeing the senna helmet in a black and gold Lotus Renault, and you just know the majority of weekend tv coverage (and media weekend pictures) will be showing this, great coverage for a team who's last public image was Nicks renault exploding. And on the point, James in your opinion, is this more than a media publicity stunt?

Either way it was something that had to be done, and I for one am delighted and wish him the best of luck. Don't worry about Nick, he's rich enough, and will find a drive in other series. He's had his chance(s) in F1.


LRGP, startn 2 wander how long they will last now. Once they lose the Renault name and possibly engines (if they dont pay up on time), then only a matter of time untill Lotus jump ship.

That and hiring low paid newbies or heavily sponsored nobodies and its only a matter of time before it all falls apart.

Sadly for RK, missing out on a year of F1 especially with these new tyres is bad enough without having 2 recover from his injuries and drive for a team thats only ever going 2 go backwards.


Money once again prevails and another Formula 1 warhorse is put to pastures.

Nick was incredibly consistent and one of the most exciting racers out there - Doubters should seek out footage of his overtaking - I will miss him on the grid and hope that Renault wither - Kubica is not coming back next year - If he does I reckon he'll hurt himself.

Nick has stayed around in the game for a long time doing a solid and tenacious job but unfortunately never wound up with the best cards in his hand - In the modern day transition from baby cot straight to race winning car there's no place for him in this sport anymore.

Christopher Snowdon

Nick has been consistent in not being very fast I'm afraid, the phrase Quick Nick is a thing of the past (and to be honest, I don't think he's ever merited that name). Like it or not he has had platforms to make an impression, ok not win championships, but certainly to be competitive.

I like this move by Lotus/Renault, but I would ratehr see Kimi in the car!!


It must be a mistake for LRGP to go to 2 pay drivers, lets see them flounder even more now...


I think this will be good for Bruno, we will know what hes capable of as well. As much as some people would like to see Nick stay, its useless, he wont do much better than this in that car. Its a good time for Renault to test some of the talent available to them...


This confirms to me that Renault have given up on this year's car and the race for 4th in the championship and are merely going to play trial and error with drivers and probarly parts on what is clearly a very under developed car. Shame as the car was quick in testing and the first few races but Renault's techincal development has been woeful and frankly shameful. Just because your no 1 driver is sitting it out does not mean you half heartly race which at times I felt they have done this year.

Feel bad for Heidfeld a racer by sleath who climbs up the field without being noticed and therefore without being rewarded by comments and rewards. His qualifying has been disapointing and therefore races have been a struggle at times but the facts do show he has out scored his teammate.


"Renault’s techincal development has been woeful and frankly shameful."

I would say barely noticeable would be more accurate.

The word development implies improvement but all they've done is waste Carbon Fibre making bits and bobs that don't work and promptly marched towards the back as a result.


They've brought plenty of things to races. But they've lost ground to the teams around them, particularly Force India


It is interesting to see now, after half of the season, how much input drivers give to the teams.

Ferrari has been very good at developing the car thanks to Alonso, McLaren more or less the same in 2 different directions with Hamilton and Button.

If we look at the performance of the Renault car at the beginning of the season, it wasn't far as it is now, therefore the drivers did not give the right feedback to develop the performance of the car.

Renault in recent years has been very proactive and efficient to bring updates, last season they had a new front wing each race!!!

But I think with Heidfeld and Petrov did not have the drivers to steer the development in the right direction.

It appears to me that Kubica on the other hand, had the capability and feel to the car to give to the Renault team the right input to extract more and more perforamce from the car.

But I don't think Senna or Grosjean will be able to develop the car, time will tell

Adrian Newey Jnr

Its a shame for the engineers in the team. Their engine is decent and they were one of the orginal teams for the exhaust system and engine tuning combination. Plus they had a promising driver in Kubica Therefore I had high hopes for them. But I believe that the losses of senior staff over the past ~6months has finally started to bite in the last few races. Are Renault the next Williams?


I am indifferent to the actual driver swap. Drivers come and go and Heidfeld hasn't been outstanding. As others have mentioned, it would be good to see some of the rookies get a fair go.

However I am a little peeved at the dishonesty of Renault. They should just out-rightly admit that their justification comes down to the sponsorship Senna brings, rather than bad mouthing Heidfeld. Williams openly admitted that they chose Manaldo over the Hulkenburg, because of the sponsorship.



Why is it that, in all the commentary about this deplorable situation (yes I am a Nick Heidfeld fan, someone who believe that he could win the WDC in a good car) there is little or no discussion about Genii's (I don't like calling them LRGP as that is little more than a marketing exercise to try and link the team to bigger/better names) development of the car? As the season has gone on and other teams have slowly improved their performance this car seems to be going backwards.
Despite that apparent lack of development Eric Boullier spends his time criticising his drivers. [mod]
As a final point I don't see any reason to think that Robert Kubica would have performed any better in this car. And seeing the situation he must be concerned that, if he is fit to return, he will be stuck in a dog of a car/team next year.


James, your thoughts on Heidfeld's prospects? Could he fit into the reckoning for Rubens' seat at Williams given he had an apparently mutually satisfactory time there back in the day?

When you look back on it, Heidfeld's F1 career involved a series of comebacks, didn't it - at Sauber from Prost, at Jordan from unemployment, at Williams as a 'potential top driver', last season at Sauber and most recently at Renault. I dare say he's earned a packet in that time and could slot easily into a DTM seat, but its sad that a respectable and generally well-regarded driver has been treated this way. As others have said, Renault should just fess up and admit Senna brings (the hope of) more cash.


I think he'll struggle to get back in now. We need to see how many races Senna has (maybe the whole season, maybe sharing seat with Grosjean).


NOT so quick Nick has had many opportunities to push and work through issues....instead of keeping his head down all the time he should engage and look like he wants to be there.

IMO he is done in F1


Grojean has just been quoted as saying that speculation led by this that his Formula 1 career has been speed up is 'quite funny'


Also Bruno has said that the intention is that he will do the rest of the year, but only two races (spa and monza) are confirmed given 'legal issues'. (same site, different article)


I always love how Heidfeld can split F1 fans into those who look at a driver objectively and those who jump onto the bandwagon and say he's rubbish. This is the man that overall beat Kubica...

Given that his fans include those such as Patrick Head and Nigel Roebuck, I expect Renault will miss him, but given a 31 point lead they've got nothing to lose so its probably the logical decision financially. With the rules staying fairly similar next year, I think his lack of feedback will hurt them long term.

Rather than DTM, I'd say he'd be the ideal candidate for permanent driver steward. He pulled off many cracking moves, and held others back (Hamilton in Malaysia) without just pushing them to the outside of the circuit as now seems acceptable.

James, has enough time lapsed for you to be able to comment on how the 2010 HRT's were in different spec's?


While it may be true that Heidfeld would *probably* bring in more points than any replacement, there is the chance that Senna/Grosjean will actually shine. From a strategic perspective that makes sense - it's unlikely with the current car/drivers they will catch Merc or be caught by Sauber. Changing drivers *may* get them ahead of Merc, and even if it doesn't they'll be no worse off because it's highly unlikely that that they will get caught by the chasing pack.


A couple of observations from me.

Firstly, having watched Classic F1 on BBC red button last night (kiss goodbye to that next year, but that's another topic...) I saw Nick finish 3rd at Interlagos 2001 in the Sauber. I think that was the year he was partnered with Kimi, and it was between the two of them as to who then went to McLaren. Would things have been different if Nick had got that drive rather than Kimi?

Also, isn't this situation symptomatic of the testing ban? There is simply no way for young drivers to get decent F1 experience now. Some simulator work, a couple of Friday practices then if they're lucky they get their chance, but then seemingly only given a few races to prove their worth.

I don't really blame the teams in this regard. They need drivers that perform quickly but also consistently, and there is a greater risk of lack of consistency with a new driver. So the teams become risk-averse regarding drivers, and may be tempted to stick with someone who is a tenth slower but more reliable.

In which case, they should have kept Nick. But against this of course, is the financial imperative which forces the team's hand, and results in Senna replacing Nick for sponsor exposure. Bit of a sad day for Renault (I will not call then Lotus!), as I think it confirms their status as a team seeking dollars above most things.


The team principal of this team is a joke in my opinion and not a very honest person, if he think Senna will do anything better that Heidfeld in the last races of the season, he is dreaming. Be honest with the fans, the team need money and Senna brings money. I hope Kubica takes notes about the way his team works.

Renault is not better than HRT, that's for sure.


I think Nick deserved better team than the Genii managed Renault. Bruno better prove his worth with this car against Vitaly.

Last years success was due to Kubica's Driving + Genii not tinkering with management.

This year after Genii tinkered with the management of the team, I suspect even if Kubica would have had the success that they had with last years team.

These owners need to learn a lot than anybody else in the team. with their current approach the Renault F1 team as we know is heading for disaster. no doubts.


F1 team is a business. It sells addvertising area. It's product is worth the popularity and fame they got.

There are two ways to get fame:

1. Winning.

2. Celebrity driver

Celebrity in sports means usually interest of driver's nation spectators.

So in Renault:

1. Kubica brought scores.

2. Petrov brought Russians.

With Heidfeld not scoring and not bringing Germans (too many better German drivers here) - he was useless.

Better use Senna bringing Brazilians (even if not scoring), than fund Heidfeld driving for fun.


Senna may prove me wrong, but it is an almost universal tendency that pay drivers do not bring enough money to outweigh their own shortcomings as drivers.

They are drafted in to correct a cash-flow problem that was initialised by prior poor results and poor development. Their supply of cash allows the team to drag out their inevitable decline, but seldom does it arrest the slide.

I feel sorry for Nick. Not in the sense that he is being deprived; he has been afforded the opportunity of driving more races than most F1 drivers and for that he can be thankful and reflect on a full career.

However, it has to be stated that this guy is the most under-appreciated/under-rated driver on the grid. He is castigated for 'not being flash', while quietly out-pointing far more illustrious competition (Raikkonen, Massa, Kubica).

Renault are a far cry from the championship winning teams of 2005 and 2006, and this decision doesn't elevate my opinion of them. Good luck Bruno, you don't deserve a seat in a good team. Oh look, you haven't got one.



Good article with interesting insight into the commercial forces behind decision making.

I find it interesting to compare the "2 Lotus" teams and looking at your recent articles it really stands out which one is moving forward, with positive PR, articles and generally favourable responses, . . .

. . . and which one isnt.


Possibly, but it's performance on track that counts so that's what they all need to focus on


Quick Nick to replace Massa at Ferrari. Get one win, then retire to endurance racing (Which he will be fantistic at).


James (or anyone else!),

On the subject of Genii (idiots, methinks, but each to his own opinion), any news as to what's gone on regarding the Sutil bottling incident/accusation in China?


So who will be the driver that will develop the Renault car?

Since they're not happy with Nick.


I wonder how long Renault ( and I mean the french car manufacturer) will give permission to these Genii business people to use their name.

Heidfeld is said to go to court and from experience that's publicity they won't be eager to get.


Clearly a financial move when you replace the driver leading in the points. Its also clear that Renault have not kept pace with development...the year started off good but neither driver has done much since. That is no fault of Heidfelds, he sure cant do much when the car explodes can he? If they think Senna or Grosjean will become the "team leader" Boullier keeps spouting of about...they have another thing coming.

I agree that Nick has had his chances, and if he was going to win he most likely would have. But this is another case of bad luck on his part... money wins every time. To go legal to fight to stay where your clearly not wanted... hmmm... why?

Personally I think the person most in need for replacement at Renault is Boullier.


By his own admission Senna is going to find it difficult to match Petrov or Heidfeld so the decision to replace Nick can only be down to money and the need to please sponsors, rather than obtaining maximum points for the team.

It's sad to see Nick forced to take legal action against the team to try and secure his position.

Clearly any financial settlement offered wasn't enough to keep him is sunglasses !

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