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

  1. 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.

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

    Good news, as predicted.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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…

  6. PieLighter (@pielighter) said on 16th February 2011, 19:13

    Szybkiego powrotu do zdrowia Robert!
    Although good luck to Nick, this could be the first race-winning car of his career (the BMW F1.08 doesn’t count, Kubica lucked into that win with Hamilton’s childish mistake which took out Raikkonen).

  7. tomforpresident said on 16th February 2011, 19:17

    On one hand i would really like Heidfeld to do well, and shut up all the doubters. never really been a huge heidfeld fan but i think he is getting a lot of flack for no reason.

    on the other hand, if he does do well, what happens when kubica is fit to return? Given the reports we are getting it looks unlikely that he will be better within the first half of the season, surely there is a point of no return if Heidfeld is consistently scoring points or heavens forbid fighting for the championship that they just wouldnt bring Kubica back.

    Is it a possibility he could steal Petrovs seat if he under performs? or is that comoplicated with hime being a pay driver.

    Anyway, i ramble but I would like to hear your thoughts.

    • PieLighter (@pielighter) said on 16th February 2011, 19:20

      I was actually hoping to see Senna hijack Petrov’s seat, as Petrov WILL underperform as he did last year.

      • tomforpresident said on 16th February 2011, 19:23

        i think its right that senna didnt get heidfelds seat, but if petrov does underperform again than it will be good to see senna get a seat in a decent car.

    • My prediction is that Kubica will return to F1 sooner than expected and that Petrov will stay with Renault in 2012 not only because of his sponsors but because his performance will be better in 2011, too. Petrov has some experience now and the team is not built around Kubica anymore so I think that Petrov will have more support from the team and more self-confidence in 2011 as well. I don’t think that Heidfeld will be able to fight for the title in 2011 but he might bring some very good results and that should increase his chances of getting a seat in another team.

      • Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 16th February 2011, 21:04

        I’m more leaning towards Petrov not improving and possibly being replaced mid season.

        It’s just like Piquet. Petrov just hasn’t improved all season. Why they kept them on was a mystery(well afterwards we knew he had some dirt on Flav and Petrov has the money)

      • luigismen said on 16th February 2011, 21:06

        My prediction is that Nick will outperform Petrov in a equivalent in points as 70/30 (Robert ain’t coming back this year).
        Nick will get Petrov seat for 2012 alongside Kubica

      • Duchess said on 17th February 2011, 0:17

        I agree with this comment. I honestly don’t understand the serious flack people are giving Petrov, especially when comparing him to Piquet who was a genuinely horrendous driver and personality. I think Petrov has a lot more confidence this season and will be improving his performance and will be getting a lot more support this season from Renault, something that was lacking last year (as Renault are notorious for their treatment of #2 drivers).

        Petrov and Kubica have very similar driving styles; though a lot of people would like to argue otherwise, Éric Boullier mentioned the same thing in the past. Then again, until Melbourne you can’t make too many assumptions on how the playing field is going to turn out (I skip Bahrain, doesn’t seem like a real GP to me :V).

  8. Heidfeld is experienced and consistent, but lacks some aggressiveness: I remember a race, where he passed the Pit exit, and someone aggressive came out from the Pit. It seemed to me that Heidfeld wavered to the side, as to invite the driver onto the track and Heidfeld was passed. Had it been an aggressive driver, the door had been shut in the face of the driver coming out from the pits. But apart from that he can be fantastic as he was in the rain on Silverstone, where his call served him the possibility to jump 7 places on the last 2 laps, as I remember. I’m looking forward to seeing him racing again. Hopefully a year on the sidewall has made him hungry and a little more aggressive.

    • Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 16th February 2011, 21:06

      Heidfeld actually has a lot of great overtaking moves to his name. He can be quite aggressive when he needs to be.

      Pretty much like Button. Indeed they will have consistency (finishing in the points) as their highest priority, but if the opportunity arises, they will do what it takes to grab it.

  9. Well I am not keen on the prospect of having the hairiest F1 season ever. I believe that Heidfeld needs a shave and that Tonio Liuzzi is more cute anyway.

    Other than that, I believe that Renault has made the right choice. Heidfeld has actually been outperforming his team mates (including Raikkonen, Massa, Webber and Kubica) most of the time. I have got a feeling that 2011 could be a strong season for him.

  10. BasCB (@bascb) said on 16th February 2011, 19:46

    I would have liked seeing Liuzzi in that Renault beat the s..t out of the FI cars, just to see Mallya feeling happy. If he would have been up to that task.

    But this was pretty much as expected from last thursday on. I think Renault went with a safe hand to drive the car. The more when Kubica knows perfectly how to interpret his ideas on car development from their past time as teammates. He might even have another record braking second place, if the car is fast enough and with his trademark solid driving and a bit of luck (sorry all fans, a win is not in it for Nick and this Renault).
    Certainly we will now all be looking forward to seeing Kubica in that car asap.

    • Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 16th February 2011, 21:09

      Liuzzi wasn’t any good in the FI nor the STR. Why would he all of a sudden start performing well in the Renault?

      • Yea, he was fired twice and one of those was from a signed contract. he’s done

      • BasCB said on 17th February 2011, 7:28

        I was not for a moment suggesting, that I think Liuzzi would do wonders in that car. Just how nice it would be to see him beat the FI cars.

        He got me a bit exited in his first year at Red Bull (a strange deal that was though). At STR, hard to say, it was a bit like the tailgates last year. When he got in at Monza he did show good pace, then again he knows the track really well. Last year was … nothing really.
        But I am not that much into Heidfeld, sure he is a safe pair of hands and we all would like Kubica back.
        But that summs it up for me, not exitement.

        • Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 17th February 2011, 19:44

          Well, Heidfeld is not exciting maybe, but anything Liuzzi did after F3000 was simply a big disappointment.

          I’ll take “not excited” over “disappointed”.

          Besides, I don’t really see what the enjoyment would be of Liuzzi driving ahead of an FI in a faster car. If anyone should be upset about that deal going sour it’s Mallya. Mallya gave Liuzzi a chance and Liuzzi simply failed. Liuzzi kept claiming he could do better and he just never did.

          At worst you could blame Mallya for being so stupid to hire Liuzzi in the first place. Especially after the way Liuzzi got publicly humiliated by Tost for not performing in the STR.

  11. austin said on 16th February 2011, 20:00

    I would have enjoyed seeing Senna get another chance. Alot of drivers need a few seasons to mature and get better. Watching Heidfeld is just boring, boring personality etc. Bruno may not be the best choice, but it is sure exciting watching him hoping he does well, F1 needs their superstars.

    • Dan83 said on 17th February 2011, 4:16

      Why is it exciting watching Bruno race?? I can’t remember anything terribly great from him last season.

      • Gubstar said on 17th February 2011, 9:07

        You should try watching the start of the spanish GP last year before he got taken out. In that sh#tbox of a car he took his teammate, the virgins and the lotus’s and was battling with the torro rosso’s off the start line. And for all thos peaple who say he got outclassed by klien last year you are all ignorant. Yes Klien outqualified him at singapore (in a car that was much better than Senna’s) but come brazil he had out-raced him, and come abu dhabi he out qualified and out raced Klien (in a worse car which was public knowledge)
        And considering Bruno’s time in comparison to “quick” Nicks at Jerez the other day (just 0.150 secs slower on the same tyre) and how much faster than Petrov he was, I think people should be a little bit more respectful

  12. I read this on my iGoogle home page and thought for a split second he had signed for Lotus, most confused there for a second.

  13. Nick is F1’s journeyman, i would have hired some young blood and given them a shot. Nick is not a bad driver but he lacks the killer edge and speed that the top drivers have.

    The R31 is a real darkhorse though, so he may have just lucked into a top drive.

  14. The New Pope said on 16th February 2011, 21:00

    So, are we going to be inundated with “Quick Nick” comments all year long? I don’t know what it is about the guy, but I think I enjoy watching Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock more than this guy, and that is not saying a whole lot.

  15. Icthyes said on 16th February 2011, 21:13

    Renault have done the right thing. To have a black-helmeted driver in a black car is only correct, you cannot defy the laws of awesomeness ;-)

    • BasCB said on 17th February 2011, 7:29

      A very true word. The foresight of this guy making such a helmet design is great. It really looks menacing!

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