Renault confirm Heidfeld to take Kubica’s place

2011 F1 season

Nick Heidfeld, Renault, Jerez, 2011

Nick Heidfeld, Renault, Jerez, 2011

Renault have confirmed Nick Heidfeld will take the place of the injured Robert Kubica at the team.

Heidfeld said: “I would have liked to come back to Formula 1 in different circumstances, but I?m proud to have been given this chance.

“Everything has happened so quickly, but I?ve been very impressed by what I have seen so far in terms of the facilities and the dedication of the people at Enstone.

“I really enjoyed the test last week in Jerez and I?ve already settled in well with the guys at the track. I have a good feeling for the car, which is quite innovative. I?m extremely motivated and can?t wait for the season to begin.”

Team principal Eric Boullier said: “The team has been through a very difficult couple of weeks and we had to react quickly.

“We gave Nick a chance in Jerez last week and he really impressed us. He?s quick, experienced and is very strong technically with his feedback and understanding of the car.

“We always said the priority was to have an experienced driver in the car and we feel he is the ideal man for the job.

“We are pleased to welcome Nick to the team and look forward to a strong start to the season with him and Vitaly in Bahrain.”

Heidfeld will drive the car in the Barcelona test on Friday morning, sharing it with Vitaly Petrov for pit stop practice, and on Saturday and Sunday. Petrov will drive the car the rest of the time.

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137 comments on Renault confirm Heidfeld to take Kubica’s place

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  1. Osvaldas31 (@osvaldas31) said on 16th February 2011, 17:49

    Good decision, because there wasn’t better driver on the market. Hope, he can take his first win this year.

    • ogamii (@ogamii) said on 16th February 2011, 19:19

      It would be great if he got a win!! Good news.

      • snowman said on 17th February 2011, 0:00

        yep, if he got the win would be bit of a fairytale story. It is really bad for the sport when the likes of Heifield & Hulkenberg haven’t got drives when ones with far less talent have. Pity Bernie couldn’t have some sort of system were teams with drivers that bring big amount of the teams sponsorship don’t get so much when the money is paid for their championship standing at end of year. Way things are there’s not enough of a penalty and you can’t blame the teams.

    • I’m sure he will be one of the surprises in 2011

  2. Great news, I really hope Heidfeld does well for Renault.

  3. OMG… not a better driver?
    Stupidest thing ever… Nick has been in the business for so long and does not have nothing to show for it. Experiance? blah….
    They shold have hired some prospects with money rather than washed up Heidfeld.
    I really will be suprised if renault gets any podiums.

    But hey, good luck Renault you are going to need it:)

    • I think he has a lot to show for it. Not all drivers have the opportunity to win races and he has come close. He’s clearly not the best driver ever, but he is the best available driver. He has beaten his teammate on many occasions and he has made the best of non-winning cars. I think this is a great decision for a team in a terrible situation.

      Had Renault fired Kubica before the accident to replace him with Nick, then your comment would be justified, but given the circumstances, this is 100% logical.

      • Dan Thorn (@dan-thorn) said on 16th February 2011, 18:04

        There’s no-one better for this role than Heidfeld. Taking on an inexperienced driver would be a huge risk for a team in their position.

        • Snobeck said on 16th February 2011, 18:17

          Agreed. Someone who knows anything about car development and what is needed to lead a team would understand why Heidfeld was picked. A rookie would get them nowhere as money can’t point you in the right direction, it simply gives you the opportunity to fund developments once an experienced driver determines what needs to be done.

          As for Nick having “nothing to show” for all his years in the sport, how about 12 podiums in non-front running cars? Button essentially had “nothing to show” for his years in the sport before he got a decent car… As mfDB said, not everyone has the chancce to win.

          Just sayin…

          Go Heidfeld!!!

          • Nice comment. Agree 100%. Go Nick prove them wrong!!! Many of us believe in you! What if you hit the WDC??? who knows? :)

          • Andy W said on 16th February 2011, 20:20

            I wonder how much this car having been developed with Kubica in mind will favour Nick? Given their shared history I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Nick felt right at home once his seat was fitted.

            Nick is a good driver who has been unfortunate enough to have some great team mates… Kimi, Massa and Kubica all of whom he more than kept honest.

            Watch some of his racing.

    • luigismen said on 16th February 2011, 18:06

      I disagree, I think Renault does well hiring Nick because obviously there isn’t a potential WDC at the market right now (Kimi is just not interested) so… the best plan for Renault is to have someone with enough experience so they can develop the car this year to have a better car for next year.
      It is too bad, but if they have a car that is goo enough to be on the podium or to win a race or two, they have to forget about that… And who knows, maybe Nick can pull up a surprise, I’ll be routing for that to happen

      • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 16th February 2011, 19:44

        Agreed. Räikkönen would’ve been the best choice, but since he wasn’t interested Heidfeld was the second best option… 2nd best seams to be a theme in Heidfeld’s career. Hopefully this will be the opportunity he needs to buck that trend and finally win a race! Schwarz-Rot-Gold!

        • BasCB said on 17th February 2011, 6:58

          It really does seem to be his role, doesn’t it?

          But best luck Quick Nick to take the car where it goes (and a bit further, please?) to help the team.
          Sure if he does well, Renault will have to think about letting Kubica have the car this year, but I bet they would love to be in such a position.

    • Don Mateo said on 16th February 2011, 18:27

      Don’t forget, of all the cars Heidfeld has driven over the years, only one has ever won a race – and on that occasion it was helped by retirements (correct me if I’m wrong), so “nothing to show for it” needs to be seen in perspective.

      Nick has far more to show for his time in F1 than many, and whilst he might lack some of the ability to outperform the car that Kubica has, he’ll get the car to the end of the race and into the points on a regular basis, and probably nab the odd podium if the car’s up to it, which is exactly what Renault need. They’ve made the right choice.

    • Name ONE driver that is a better choice at this point

      I bet you can’t

      Sure he’s not the best of the best, but he still is a solid option.

    • montreal95 (@montreal95) said on 16th February 2011, 18:48

      I’m not a Heidfeld fan but there’s hardly a word right in your comment:

      Not a better driver-who was better and available?

      Not the stupidest thing ever by any means and childish of you to say so.

      Nick hasn’t anyhting to show in all his years in F1? How about faring really well against all of his team-mates, none of whom were slouches, and beating most of them?

      Experience is not blah it’s one of the most important things in F1. If you can’t see that then you know nothing about F1.

      None of the prospects with money, would give them the same return as FOM will give them for the not so washed up Heidfeld’s results.

      Your speculation about Renault not getting any podiums is entirely consistent with the rest of your trolling comment. No more to add

    • David A said on 16th February 2011, 19:25

      He has 12 podiums to show for it. And two top 6 championship positions.

      Who would you rather have seen in the seat? The guy who got outperformed by someone who hadn’t driven since mid-2006? Or better yet, the one who got annihilated by Adrian Sutil?

    • Sass, you have no idea what you are talking about.

      Great that Heidfeld got the drive!

      I’m pretty sure when he was teammates with Kubica Heidfeld beat him/had more points overall. Are you saying Kubica is not a good driver?

    • sato113 (@sato113) said on 16th February 2011, 20:46

      they needed someone who can develop the car throughout the season. Renault have said that all along. a rookie would be a poor choice.

  4. Ciaran (@walsh-f1) said on 16th February 2011, 17:55

    Good News,Hope Nick finally breaks his duck and wins.

    • I hope so too, just because it will make him very happy and he deserves it.

    • Todfod (@todfod) said on 16th February 2011, 20:15

      It would be a great moment for the sport if Nick could take a win this year. He was down and out, but he got another chance and hopefully he will make the most of it. All the best Nick!

  5. TheD4N1EL (@thed4n1el) said on 16th February 2011, 17:55

    From day one when they said Kubica wouldn’t make the start of the season and they were gonna ask Heidfeld to test i said Nick would be the best choice and that they would choose him.

    He’ll produce good performances and do well by the team and deserves the chance to drive this season even if it is only going to be the first half, possibly.

    • Oh wow aren’t you so clever.

      Somebody give this guy a team

      • Todfod (@todfod) said on 17th February 2011, 6:37

        LOL. In all seriousness, he would do a better job than Kolles at HRT. I’m sure he would have the common sense to recruit someone better than Karthikeyan.

    • dyslexicbunny said on 17th February 2011, 15:23

      I don’t think you were the only one to think that thought. Renault needed someone with experience to offset Petrov. Nick gives them this. It was a pretty simple decision in my book.

  6. SennaNmbr1 (@) said on 16th February 2011, 18:01

    I wonder if they’ll keep him on if he has a shot at the championship.

  7. Troid91 (@troid91) said on 16th February 2011, 18:02

    heidfeld back for racing. Good for him and smart decision for renault.

    • Jarred Walmsley (@jarred-walmsley) said on 16th February 2011, 18:23

      Awesome find, pretty interesting video

    • Nice seeing Keith for real :)
      Hey Keith, not putting any extra pounds hey ? Is your wife really feeding you ? :)
      About Heidfeld, yes logical choice surely since he did run pretty well last week, but when is B.Senna ever going to get a chance then ? Boullier did say that he would be the third driver, and now, Heifeld is up. I have a hard time getting it !?
      Not my favorite, for sure, but hey, I don’t make the call…

      • Boullier said Senna would be the first reserve driver before Kubica’s accident. He almost certainly meant Senna would be the first choice if Kubica or Petrov was unavailable for a couple of races, not a whole season.

        After all, it’s one thing giving an unproven, inexperienced driver a chance in a single race. It’s quite another thing putting everything you’ve invested into an entire season into the hands of an unproven driver. Had it been Petrov out for the whole of 2011 Senna may have been asked to step up. But the whole Renault team is so focussed around a strong lead driver – as it was when Schumacher and Alonso won their back to back titles.

        • luigismen said on 16th February 2011, 20:53

          Completely agree on that, Senna is fine to replace a driver for one or two races, but not the WHOLE season. Heidfeld perfect for the job!

    • schooner said on 16th February 2011, 23:55

      Very cool and informative Q and A. Thanks for the link.

  8. The New Pope said on 16th February 2011, 18:11

    Same old…same old….This is disappointing.

  9. its the same old
    renault did want kimi raikkonen but he said he wud rather stay in rallying so renault did not consider him. otherwise on the whole raikkonen is a better driver that heidfeld in nearly every way.
    renault had to sign heidfeld they had no choice
    it was either heidfeld or luizzi or senna
    renault wanted a driver who can challenge for the title
    heidfeld not a chance in hell

  10. Morteza (@morteza) said on 16th February 2011, 18:21

    Renault has done well with their choice. Heidfeld will do well for them as he has showed his abilities before. He had never been in a car good enough to fight for wins or championships. If Renault has a good car this year, Heidfeld can fight for his first win.

  11. Fred Schechter said on 16th February 2011, 18:27

    Bummer of a reason to be in, but oh so glad to see Quick Nick back in frame. This could be the car for him!

  12. Seamus said on 16th February 2011, 18:44

    Great news, always one of my favorite drivers. Hope he does well enough this season to find a permanent drive at a major team.

  13. Stefanauss (@stefanauss) said on 16th February 2011, 18:50

    Of course this is a perfectly right choice, although a tremendously boring one.

  14. Stephen Higgins said on 16th February 2011, 18:51

    Must be another ‘development’ year for Renault then. Great drivers burst onto the scene, Nick Heidfeld has somewhat dribbled in, and out.

    He’s the F1 equivalent of Joe Mc’Elderry, all the ‘right’ attributes put in place, yet dropped when he doesn’t hit No1. Then the next big thing comes along and no-one cares frankly.

    As a driver I find him dull and uninspiring to watch. Putting Bruno Senna in the cars would have been an inspiring thing to do for us F1 romantics.

    Putting heildfeld in the car will generate noncholant shrugs from the hacks and a bottom-page collumn in Autosport.

    • David A said on 16th February 2011, 19:38

      Putting Bruno Senna in the cars would have been an inspiring thing to do for us F1 romantics.

      Romantics, largely as a result of sharing the name of a Brazilian three time champion doesn’t mean you should get a ride over better drivers. Go ask Renault about the mistake they made three years ago.

      Heidfeld seemed to be “dull” to some, and I wasn’t necessarily a fan, but the guy was capable of doing inspiring things.

      His record against good teammates speaks for itself, so good luck to him.

  15. Tifosino1 (@tifosino1) said on 16th February 2011, 18:52

    I think Renault have made a mistake hiring Heidfeld. Yes he’s experienced but that’s not what Renault need. They need somebody young with a hunger to succeed. All the posters on this site saying Renault need experience, well think about how “Quick Nick” got his break. If Sauber employed that tactic in 2001 neither him or Kimi would have made it into F1. If memory serves me right Sauber did quite well in 2001 with 2 rookies.

    • Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 16th February 2011, 19:10

      They have Petrov to fill the “hungry rookie” slot.

      Why would they want 2 rookies? Renault is not some backmarker team, they claim to have intentions to perform as a top team.

      • Tifosino1 (@tifosino1) said on 16th February 2011, 19:18

        Renault aren’t a backmarker team but they aren’t a title challenger either, not this year. The best they can hope for is a fluke podium.

        • I don’t think anyone can really guess what state Renault or any of the teams will be in this coming season. It’s still far too early.

          Sauber had nothing to lose when they ran two rookies as they’ve never really challenged for anything. Renault managed the odd podium last year and perhaps they could build on that with a reliable driver. Also, Renault will at least want to beat Mercedes in the standings so that’ll help too.

          • Steph, you can safely say RBR and Ferrari are in with a shot of the championship, but is there anyone else that can join them?

          • David A said on 16th February 2011, 21:37

            Steph, you can safely say RBR and Ferrari are in with a shot of the championship, but is there anyone else that can join them?


        • David A said on 16th February 2011, 19:49

          The best they can hope for is a fluke podium.

          Why is that? They got three good podiums last year, if we were to use that for reference. On the other hand, Steph is right that it is still too early to guess.

          A upper-midfield team, with intentions of getting back to title contention that they experienced 5 years ago need a solid dependable driver in at least one of their seats. With Heidfeld, they have that. In Petrov, they have the young driver in their team who can possibly improve and show us his full potential.

      • schumitoo (@schumitoo) said on 17th February 2011, 13:53

        I agree. Nick was the obvious choice. I prefer him to Liuzi, more consistent, more solid.

    • Dan Thorn (@dan-thorn) said on 16th February 2011, 19:41

      Nick would have done considering he’d already done a year with Prost in 2000…

      Renault have a chance of fighting for regular podiums, possibly even wins. If they want to maintain that throughout the year then they need an experienced driver to help develop the car and deliver consistant results.

    • @Tifosino1
      No they don’t, they need someone to temporarily replace their experienced star driver. This is not a situation where a team is simply looking for a new driver and hoping they can move said driver up the ladder. This is a desperate team with a good car trying to TEMPORARILY fill a position.

      If this happened at your company, and they needed to temporarily replace your boss, is is smart to hire a consulting expert that can come in and do the job with minimal discussions and training or do you hire some kid out of college that needs years of training, just to have that kid replaced when your boss returns.

  16. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 16th February 2011, 18:56

    Good news, as predicted.

  17. Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 16th February 2011, 19:01

    Amazingly they didn’t even bother testing Liuzzi …

    Good choice. Really the only choice I’d say.

    Sad it was needed to replace Kubica, but yeah.

  18. He’s one of those drivers we’re not gonna get rid of for a long time… So much for him being out of a race seat for good after ’09. That is a good thing though, I’ve always loved Heidfeld.

  19. If Heidfeld was any good then he would have had a drive this year before Kubica’s accident. Personally, I don’t see why the team wants an experienced driver – F1 is not won by experienced drivers, it’s won by fast drivers.

    I’m a big Schumacher fan but what good was his experience last year when he was soundly thrashed by his faster team-mate?

    If I was Renault, I would let some new blood have a chance and see – who know what may happen. Just because the Sennas and Schumachers of the world all started in little teams and then got into more established teams doesn’t mean that this is the best way of doing things. Hamilton came right into a top team and came second in the WDC in his first year.

    • Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 16th February 2011, 19:13

      Heidfeld simply fell through the cracks when Button moved to McLaren and Schumacher to Mercedes. Kubica and Renault’s finances blocked his move to Renault. So then nothing was left.

    • montreal95 (@montreal95) said on 16th February 2011, 19:47

      In fact, it might be Rosberg who was the most experienced of the Mercedes pair with the current cars as Michael was out for 3 seasons. So it’s a non-comparable case.

      You really need experience to develop a car. You also need experience in the races to grasp hold of the situation(e.g. Hamilton’s case in China 2007, funny that you give his example because more experienced driver would’ve won that championship). You usually need both speed and experience to succeed in F1 although of course speed is the basic thing as experience can be gained, but this fact is irrelevant in Renault’s case as they need replacement now to give them direction for development.

      And speaking of speed, Heifeld has fared rather well against all his team-mates who were all good drivers. He’s certainly faster than any other driver who was available. Added to his experience it made this choice a no-brainer.

    • Siv, see my comment above, training new blood is not what they need right now. After all, we are all expecting Kubica to return aren’t we…..

    • Daffid said on 16th February 2011, 21:24

      Heidfeld is a fast driver, his sustained race pace is as good as anyone’s, he’s just not been a great qualifier but a large part of that was his style didn’t suit Bridgestone tyres, who knows how he’ll fare on Pirellis.

    • I’m still not convinced. In 5 races together last year, Heidfeld only outqualified Kobyashi once and only finished in front of him once. And Koby was only in his first full season…

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