Nick Heidfeld, Renault, Jerez, 2011

Renault confirm Heidfeld to take Kubica’s place

2011 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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. 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).

  2. tomforpresident
    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.

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

      1. tomforpresident
        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.

    2. 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.

      1. 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)

      2. 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

        1. IIRC Kubica (or was it Raikkonen?) already explained that that is not going to happen. Apparently Renault don’t have the resources to accomodate two top drivers.

      3. 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).

  3. 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.

    1. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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

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

      2. 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.

        1. 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.

  6. 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.

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

      1. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

    1. Perhaps even Mr. Fisichella?
      Or am I pushing it too far now?

    2. He’ll be quicker than the mighty Petrov, in any case.

  10. 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 ;-)

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

  11. I read somewhere that Kubica was keen to see his good friend Liuzzi take over his seat (don’t know if it’s really true), but I think Renault made the logical choice. I expect he’ll do ok, and will probably wind up with a podium or two. As normal, it will mostly depend on the car. It’s possible that he and Renault might really surprise us. Hope so!

  12. While I’m happy for him, I don’t understand this whole “Heidfeld is finally getting the chance he deserves” nonsense. Let’s be honest here – Heidfeld has been in the sport a lot longer than most drivers could dream of, and he’s been quite underwhelming. He’s had dozens of chances in the past, and I think it’s fairly telling that he never graduated to a team like Ferrari or McLaren even though he consistently beat his team-mates. He’s not terminally overlooked, he’s a guy who just never impressed despite being given every opportunity to do so. The Renault R31 might be fast, but topping one test sessions is proof of nothing.

    1. It’s a near-as-fact that there are more drivers who deserve to be measured in a good car than there are spaces, so yes, Heidfeld is getting what he deserves, although I doubt the Renault is a top car yet.

      For most of Heidfeld’s career it has just been two teams, McLaren and Ferrari or Renault. First Raikkonen came out of nowhere to beat him to the McLaren seat, then there were a few young drivers top teams were excited about, before you know it Heidfeld is middle-aged in F1 terms and no top team takes them on unless they’re world champions, which Heidfeld never had any chance to be.

      he’s a guy who just never impressed despite being given every opportunity to do so

      Um…what? He’s never been in a race-winning car (no, 2008 does not count) and despite that has had 12 podiums. Nick impressed about as often as Button did before the Brawn Supremacy in equipment that was never quite as good.

      1. Maybe there’s a reason why he has never been in a race-winning car, unlike his former teammates Massa and Raikkonen.

        Button’s case is very rare though. He’s one of the luckiest drivers on the grid. Every driver dreams of a dominant car and a teammate called Barrichello.

        1. I wouldn’t say Button was lucky. There’s a lot in his previous results – particularly in 2004 and 2006 – that show he had a lot of potential. Unfortuantely, all anyone can remember is the period from 2007 to 2009.

          1. Agreed. Aand the brawn car was actually only the outright quickest for 3 races in 2009! And yet Jenson won 6! Vettel had the quickest car all year last year and how many did he win?

    2. How is it not impressive to over the balance of a season beat teammates such as Raikkonen and Kubica??? Honestly…

      1. Oh and add Massa to the list of teammates he’s beaten… hmmm

  13. Yeh, wouldn’t it have been nice to see a youngster like Senna in there. Problem is with two sophomore drivers the team would have gone nowhere all year. Speed is no substitute when you have a pressing need for experience, just ask Ross Brawn when he went for Barrichello over – oops – Bruno Senna.

  14. Heidfeld is their best choice, but at the same time that conclusion is also very sad for motor racing and Formula One in particular. After 174(!) races “Quick Nick” still has to collect his first win. Experience is fine, but since the testing ban it looks like it’s everything, apart from the money.

    1. I hope he gets his first win and gets it quickly. We don’t need too many virgins on the racetrack.

  15. Boullier: Yes Yes Robert, of course Liuzzi is our first choice.
    **Whispers to agents** Quick, while he’s in surgery, sign Nick!

  16. Sometimes just when you think that life passed you by, and you wish you had another chance – you get one.

    Nick has a really good chance to prove his skills. After losing his seat, I am sure he is more humble and more dedicated then ever. And so fortunate to land in such a good car that looks great. He must be so incredibly thrilled, I bet he is having trouble sleeping.

  17. Despite Kubica leaning towards Liuzzi, Renault made the logical decision. While I’m no Heidfeld fan, he’s very consistent and they call him Quick Nick for a reason! He might not win races, but he’ll bring the car home (something not guaranteed by Petrov) and he’ll add development input for the car. I also like Bruno Senna but an inexperienced line-up would be too much of a gamble for Renault. Szybkiego powrotu do zdrowia Robert

  18. I was also pusbing for Senna, since I was looking for something fresh for this year’s championship in terms of driver lineup. Heidfeld is experienced and “quick”, but not front runner quick. Last year he got owned by Kobayashi, a rookie. Yes, Kobayashi had more races on te sauber, but Nick had time to catch up and learn the car in the available races, and he didn’t. Senna is a GP2 Monaco GP winner, as well as a Silverstone winner (in the rain)- two signs of an exciting talented racer. It would’ve been a risk, yes, but that’s what separates winners and losers.

    But I have to agree that choosing Heidfeld over de la Rosa and Liuzzi was indeed the better choice. Just not over Senna.

    1. I would hardly say he got owned by Kobayashi. Although out of five races he was outraced by Kobayashi in three (with both retiring in Singapore), two of those were really close, with Heidfeld finishing just one place behind his teammate.

      I’m no Heidfeld fanboy, but I do think he’s pretty talented and that, if the Renault is quick enough, we might be in for some surprises this year. I really hope he gets to win a race, at least.

  19. Some say that Renault wouldn’t put Kubica back in the car if Heidfeld performed well.
    I think that since F1 is more business than sport now, if only Kubica was fit enough to drive he would get his seat back. Just imagine what publicity will Renault get when/if he comes back. All eyes on them. I bet all the sponsors as well as the owner couldn’t wish for more..

  20. I remember seeing Heidfeld at the Goodwood Festival years ago when he was McLaren’s (I think) test driver. This was before they stopped timing the F1 cars and the commitment he showed in the damp was that of a proper F1 driver.

    I hope the new Renault is as good as it looked with Kubica in it and that Nick grabs this chance with both hands.

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