Tag Archives: Nick heidfeld

Mixed results for F1 drivers at 24 Hours of Le Mans

The 24 Hours of Le Mans has concluded today at the Circuit de la Sarthe, with Audi roaring away with 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th places.

There were 22 drivers there today who have previously raced in Formula 1. Some finished well up the field with consistent drives, while others were involved in terrifying crashes. Here is the report of the F1 drivers from today’s race:

Brundle & Brundle impress in LMP2

Sky F1 commentator and former F1 driver Martin Brundle, along with his son Alex, competed in the LMP2 (Le Mans Prototype 2) category.

Clocking in an impressive 340 laps overnight, the father-son pairing finished 5th in class, and 15th overall. However, during the race, they were forced to switch to right-foot braking – a first for Alex – after problems began to develop on the car.

Alternator and throttle issues prevented them from battling for a podium finish, but the elder of the two stated he was pleased with his racing return.

Davidson lucky after horrific crash

Further up the field, 2007 Super Aguri driver Anthony Davidson was competing for the overall victory with the resurgent Toyota team. He took control of the #8 car, about 80 laps into the race.

However, a horrific smash with a Ferrari 458 (GTE Pro category) sent Davidson flying into the barriers, and the Toyota out of the race. After being sent to hospital to treat him for shock and back pain, it was confirmed that Davidson had suffered two broken vertebrae in the crash.

However, from watching the replay, you could argue that he is lucky to be alive:

Teammate Sebastien Buemi, a former Toro Rosso driver, drove a fantastic stint to bring the #8 Toyota within 3 seconds of the lead beforehand. Stephane Sarrazin – a once-off driver for Minardi, also drove well in his opening stints.

McNish and Gene throw away vital positions for Audi

2002 Toyota F1 driver Allan McNish has moved on to the Audi Le Mans team, this year racing the #2 R-18 e-tron quattro, a hybrid 4-wheel drive car. He inherited the lead from the #1 car, and was in contention for the race win.

However, when lapping a backmarker, McNish spun out and hit the barriers, losing vital time with repair work:

Amazingly, just minutes beforehand, fellow Audi driver Marc Gene (former Minardi and BMW Williams driver) had clashed with another barrier, this time on one of the Mulsanne chicanes. Earlier in the race, the same car was crashed in the exact same spot by Romain Dumas.

Both cars were repaired, at the same time, by the Audi crew, and sent out within 10 minutes – an incredible performance by the team.

Wurz and Nakajima suffer bad luck at Toyota

Besides Davidson’s crash, the sister Toyota car was in the wars as well.

The #7 car was running second after a safety car restart, with former Williams driver Kazuki Nakajima at the wheel. However, he clashed with the radical Nissan Delta Wing, forcing both cars to undergo extensive repairs.

The Delta Wing was out, while the #7 Toyota never recovered. Benneton and Williams racer Alexander Wurz brought the car out of the pits, but it repeatedly stuttered to a halt.

It was a disappointing end to a promising campaign for the Toyotas, but they’ll be back even stronger next year.

Bruni and Fisichella win GTE Pro category

2004 Minardi driver Gianmaria Bruni and Jordan, Renault and Ferrari driver Giancarlo Fisichella experienced success at this year’s Le Mans.

They won the GTE Pro category in the #51 Ferrari 458. While Fisichella was the one who crashed the car on Friday, forcing the car to start at the back of the grid, he did well to move 3 laps clear of his nearest competitor.

Brabham and Chandhok impress in JRM HPD

David Brabham – son of 3 times world champion Jack Brabham – and Karun Chandhok (2010 HRT racer) finished 6th overall in the LMP1 category.

They were racing for the JRM team. Despite some stalling while Chandhok attempted to leave the pits, the #22 car was brilliantly reliable, and briefly ran ahead of some of the Audi R18s.

Heidfeld splits the Audis with Lola

Nick Heidfeld, who has had a stunted career in F1 to say the least, was driving for the Lola team, and managed to finish ahead of one of the Audi cars.

He was driving with Nicolas Prost (son of Alain Prost) and Neel Jani (Lotus test driver), both of which are aiming for drives in F1 in the future.

With excellent reliability, the trio worked their way up to 4th place overall, and ruined a 1-2-3-4 finish for the Audi team. In fact, had any major problem befallen the top 3 cars, Heidfeld and co. would have finished on the podium!

2011 final driver rankings: 18th – 11th

This is the second article out of 4, ranking all 28 drivers from this season. This section includes drivers such as Felipe Massa, Kamui Kobayashi and Jaime Alguersuari.

18th – Felipe Massa

The Pirelli tyres brought no improvement to Massa's form

The Pirelli tyres brought no improvement to Massa's form

Previous ranking: 14th

Review from previous ranking: “Ferrari need a second driver who can consistently take podiums, not struggle for 6th.”

The one thing I find more frustrating than Felipe Massa is those who keep praising him despite his disastrous pace. Every single year, we are promised a return to form by the Brazilian, and every year is a let-down.

This year, it was the Pirelli tyres that were to catapult Massa to the top, which of course never happened. While teammate Fernando Alonso took 10 podiums, one of which was a win, Massa was never higher than 5th.

A clear sign of his ineptness at the Ferrari was in India, where he was the only driver to find trouble with the kerbs – and did it twice. as well as this, he was not blameless in the spat with Lewis Hamilton – turning into the McLaren in India was ill-judged to say the least.

The best indicator of a driver’s pace is their performance relative to their teammate, and Massa didn’t even get half of what Alonso won. Even Mark Webber, who had a shocking season by his standards, was able to beat this.

Renault and Ferrari have, in recent times, shown that it is entirely plausible to end a driver’s contract prematurely. Why they haven’t done this with Massa yet, we’ll never know.

17th – Bruno Senna

Senna's first race was ruined by his own hand

Senna's first race was ruined by his own hand

Previous ranking: 24th (2010 half-way rankings)

Review from previous ranking: “Senna’s potential is still unclear.” (2010 half-way rankings)

After spending 2010 lingering at the back of the grid, the Senna name was thrown into the midfield of the grid, after Nick Heidfeld was given the boot. So far, Bruno’s impact has been unconvincing to say the least.

He qualified an excellent 7th at his first race of the year in Spa, but bottled it at the first corner. A pair of points were scored at Monza, but that was the only top 10 finish of the season.

Despite this, he showed interesting flashes of pace, generally being faster than Vitaly Petrov, and driving well at his home race in Brazil, before clashing with Michael Schumacher – the first time since 1993 that those two surnames have collided.

As the Renault and its radical front exhausts fell apart, it became clear that Senna was unable to demonstrate his prowess. I’m unsure as to his full potential, but many feel that despite the circumstances, he should have performed better in 2011.

16th – Vitaly Petrov

A single podium was the only high point of Petrov's season

A single podium was the only high point of Petrov's season

Previous ranking: 9th

Review from previous ranking: “It will be up to Petrov to take the majority of Renault’s points this year.”

As the Renault car became more and more hopeless, Petrov began to falter, and was being worryingly out-paced by new recruit Senna by the end of the year.

A podium in Australia was undoubtedly the standout moment of the year, but there wasn’t much to talk about after that. In Malaysia, a mistake by Petrov resulted in a spectactular launch into the air, which was the last race the team had any chance of racing at the front.

Apart from a 5th place in Canada, he was only able to snatch 9th and 10th places throughout the year, and only had 3 points more than Nick Heidfeld – who missed the last 8 races.

It was an improvement from 2010, but not improvement enough to keep his seat for next year, and I can’t complain about that.

15th – Sebastien Buemi

The wheels came off Buemi's season in the second half

The wheels came off Buemi's season in the second half

Previous ranking: 16th

Review from previous ranking: “Of Ricciardo impresses at HRT, then Buemi may still be under pressure for the race seat in 2012.”

After the unceremonious dumping of both drivers, Toro Rosso have indicated that they have had enough of their drivers. Buemi and Alguersuari tussled for the lead in the team throughout the season, but ultimately the better driver came out on top.

Sebastien had the upper hand in the first few races, adapting well to the Pirelli tyres. He was able to out-qualify Alguersuari, and conserve his tyres better in the races. However, when Jaime turned his season around, matching pace from Buemi was nowhere to be seen.

It must be considered that he suffered more than his fair share of technical problems, but the general consensus is that Buemi should have achieved more after 3 years in Toro Rosso, which is considerably more than what many other drivers got.

14th – Kamui Kobayashi

A difficult second half of the season for Kobayashi

A difficult second half of the season for Kobayashi

Previous ranking: 6th

Review from previous ranking: “Kobayashi continues to punch well above his weight with scintillating drives.”

The fans’ favourite overtaker suffered a disappointing second half to the season, while his teammate took the limelight.

The first half of 2011 was spectacular, with Kobayashi finishing in the top 10 7 races in a row, something that neither of the Mercedes drivers could achieve.

However, his qualifying pace began to falter alarmingly, and teammate Perez began to take control. Finishing the season with 2 points finishes was impressive, and helped him end the season with double what Perez achieved. However, it must be considered that Sergio missed out on two races which I feel he would have performed well in.

Overall, it was a decent season, but improvement is still necessary for Kobayashi.

13th – Jaime Alguersuari

A spate of points-scoring finishes was not enough for Alguersuari

A spate of points-scoring finishes was not enough for Alguersuari

Previous ranking: 12th

Review from previous ranking: “Alguersuari came very close to being replaced, but several good drives have rescued his career.”

Not good enough, I’m afraid. An impressive improvement came in the second half of 2011, but Alguersuari was still dropped at the end of the year.

A series of 18th-to-points runs were entertaining to watch, and a pair of 7th places in Monza and Korea were the high points for Jaime. Qualifying 6th in Spa was also an excellent performance, before he was cruelly taken out by Bruno Senna.

In the end, he was comfortably ahead of his teammate, where he deserved to be. However, holding up Vettel in Korean practice did him no favours with Red Bull, and earned him an severe dressing-down from Helmut Mark0 (which I’ve heard will be featured in the F1 review DVD).

Whether this politics hurt his chances at retaining his seat, we’ll never know.

12th – Nick Heidfeld

Heidfeld was a casualty of Renault's demise

Heidfeld was a casualty of Renault's demise

Previous ranking: 11th

Review from previous ranking: “Reliable driving has helped him in the races, but a lack of raw pace is holding Nick back.”

A surprise ditching by Renault saw Heidfeld out of a drive halfway through the season. Because of this, we will never know how he was to handle with the deteriorating R31.

A magnificent start in Malaysia, as well as holding up the McLaren drivers, saw Nick take a well-deserved podium. As the Renault slipped down the order, Heidfeld was able to take as many 7th and 8th places as he could. He was taken out on the first lap in Germany, and an exploding sidepod took him out in Hungary, which proved to be his last race.

I’m still confused as to why Renault bothered dropping Heidfeld, considering Petrov could hardly amass his points total with an extra 8 races in hand. He was a safe pair of hands, and consistently got the job done, aside from a calamitious error at the Nurburgring.

His main weakness was dire qualifying, which principal Eric Boullier was particularly angry about. Still, I feel that Renault was worse off without Heidfeld.

11th – Heikki Kovalainen

Kovalainen far exceeded the car's potential

Kovalainen far exceeded the car's potential

Previous ranking: 19th

Review from previous ranking: “It will be up to Kovalainen to secure 10th place in the Constructor’s Championship for the team.”

With HRT and Virgin constantly falling further behind, and Jarno Trulli proving lacklustre, it was always going to be up to Kovalainen to prove Lotus’ worth.

I admit that I had nearly given up on Kovalainen after his dismal years at McLaren – he recently said that those two years had drained all his confidence. In that light, going back to basics was the best possible move for Heikki. With little pressure around him, he has been able to re-invigorate his racing spirit.

Whenever a midfield car faltered, it was Kovalainen who snatched the opportunity to move into Q2, which he did three times. He absolutely demolished his teammate in every sector – qualifying (16 successes out of 18), and races, where he often finished half a minute ahead of Trulli.

A 13th-placed finish in Monza secured 10th for Lotus in the constructors’ championship. With luck, the team soon to be known as Caterham can finally improve to the midfield, with Kovalainen the driving force of the squad.

Heidfeld and Renault split, Senna confirmed for rest of 2011

Heidfeld has officialy left Renault

Heidfeld has officialy left Renault

Nick Heidfeld and the Renault F1 team have made a settlement outside of court, with the German confirmed to be leaving the team.

Heidfeld was booted out of his race seat for Bruno Senna in Spa, and Nick promised to take Renault to the Labour Court. However, Renault have confirmed that an agreement has been made between the two parties, including an “amicable settlement”.

A statement from team principal Eric Boullier reads as follows:

"Our disagreement with Nick has been the subject of much media coverage lately, and 
we are pleased to have reached a swift and reasonable solution.

Our separation process was already a painful one, and neither of us wanted to go 
through another legal hearing. We’re very grateful to Nick for the highly valuable 
contribution he’s made to the team. We certainly had good times together, in 
particular remembering our podium finish in Malaysia."

Heidfeld made a standard statement on his disappointment to be leaving the team, before briefly noting:

"One thing is for sure – I’ll be back racing at the highest level soon."

If Nick is referring to F1, then he may be out of luck. As far as I see it, the only potential drives for 2012 would be at Williams or possibly Lotus. If Williams were to be the case, then Heidfeld could join Pastor Maldonado at the squad, seeing as the team are in financial difficulty, and Rubens Barrichello doesn’t bring much sponsor money.

However, this is still a low possibility, and we may have seen the last of Nick Heidfeld in Formula 1.

Meanwhile, Bruno Senna has been confirmed as staying in the second Renault seat, as expected.

Senna confirmed at Renault for two races

Senna has taken over Heidfeld's seat - for the moment

Senna has taken over Heidfeld's seat - for the moment

It has been revealed today that Bruno Senna has been confirmed at Renault for the next two races of the season.

While it appears as if the team want for him to race for the rest of the year, legal issues with Nick Heidfeld’s contract remain. It appears as if Heidfeld does not wish to leave, and his contract does not include an exit clause.

A brief statement from Bruno reads as follows:

"I am confirmed for this race and the next race. The intention is I will do the rest 
of the year but it is not confirmed."

The Telegraph is reporting that Nick Heidfeld is prepared to take Renault to court in order to keep his race seat.

Renault are yet to comment on this issue.

Heidfeld replaced by Senna? (Confirmed)

The BBC are reporting that Renault driver Nick Heidfeld has been dropped from the squad’s line-up, with Bruno Senna taking his seat for the rest of the year.

Heidfeld has endured a trying year with the Renault team, having failed to lead the team after the loss of Robert Kubica after a rally crash.

It has also been hinted that Renault are suffering from a lack of funding. While Nick demands several million euro in salary, Senna comes with substansial sponsorship money free of charge.

Romain Grosjean was rumoured to be lined up for a race seat, having performed exceptionally well in GP2  this year. He previously stood in for sacked Nelson Piquet Jr. in 2009.

While this story has been reported by a trusted source, the team are yet to confirm this story.

Heidfeld currently lies 8th in the drivers’ standings, 2 points ahead of teammate Vitaly Petrov.

Update: Renault have confirmed that Senna will race alongside Vitaly Petrov in this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix. A short statement was issued:

"Lotus Renault GP is pleased to announce that Bruno Senna will race alongside Vitaly 
Petrov at this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps.

Bruno will attend the Official FIA Press Conference tomorrow at 15.00.

A press release with further details on the matter will be issued tomorrow morning."

It is currently unknown is this switch for one race only, or for the rest of the season.

Buemi takes 5-place grid drop for Hungary

Buemi will take a grid drop after colliding with Heidfeld in Germany

Buemi will take a grid drop after colliding with Heidfeld in Germany

Sebastien Buemi has been ordered to take a 5-place grid penalty for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The stewards decided that he was at fault for causing a collision between the Toro Rosso and Nick Heidfeld early on in the German GP.

Approaching the Veedol chicane, Heidfeld was squeezed onto the grass by Buemi, then the Renault was launched into the gravel trap and out of the race. Buemi continued, but pitted for repairs to his rear right tyre.

Although the television images suggested Buemi squeezed Nick off the track, Sebastien claims “Heidfeld drove into me”.

This follows Buemi being disqualified from qualfying, after a fuel irregularity with his car.

In related news, the FIA has stated it will not take any action against Nick Heidfeld, who was issued a drive-through penalty (for colliding with Paul di Resta) before he crashed out.

2011 mid-way driver rankings: 14 – 6

Here is part 2 of the mid-season review of all the Formula 1 drivers. This article tackles drivers ranked 14th up to 6th.

14 – Felipe Massa

Massa has found himself being beaten by all his rivals

Massa has found himself being beaten by all his rivals

Ranking in 2010: 14th

Review from 2010 ranking: “No race wins, no pole positions, no fastest laps, and no hope for 2012 if he doesn’t improve fast.”

To lag behind Sebastian Vettel in 2011 is to be expected. But to have only a quarter of the German’s points, while driving a Ferrari, is nothing short of laughable.

This year was where the Pirelli tyres would leap Massa back through the field. Nothing of the sort has occurred. Take the Spanish Grand Prix for example – Fernando Alonso tussled for the lead in the early stages, while Massa was being beaten by the Force Indias in the envious battle for 10th.

With less than half of Alonso’s points, and not even a sniff at a podium finish, Felipe has been completely dominated. He has yet to out-qualify Fernando at any point in 2011.

While it would be incredibly difficult for Ferrari to find a driver as talented as Alonso, they need a second driver who can consistently take podiums, not struggle for 6th.

13 – Paul di Resta

Di Resta has had a solid start in F1

Di Resta has had a solid start in F1

Ranking in 2010: N/A

Review from 2010 ranking: N/A

Ragged drives have lost him points, but nevertheless a decent start to his F1 career for the Scot.

Di Resta’s best performances so far have been in qualifying, as he has out-qualified teammate Sutil 7 times in 9 races, with over 0.6 seconds in the average gap between the two.

However, despite spending more laps in front of Sutil than vice-versa, Paul has struggled for results, with only 2 points to his name. He was on course for a large points haul in Britain, before a tyre mix-up ruined his chances.

Poorly-judged moves, particularly in Monaco and Canada, have also cost Di Resta. However, with more consistency and experience, he may be able to challenge Sutil in the driver’s championship.

12 – Jaime Alguersuari

Alguersuari has improved in recent races

Alguersuari has improved in recent races

Ranking in 2010: 19th

Review from 2010 ranking: “Three points finishes is all he could do, with a car that never really looked like pushing for points.”

Alguersuari came very close to being replaced, but several good drives have rescued his career.

3 points-scoring finishes in a row have kept Jaime his Toro Rosso race seat from going to Daniel Ricciardo. The Spaniard now lies one point ahead of Sebastien Buemi.

His qualifying results have been poor, but in recent races Alguersuari has been able to turn Q1 knockouts into points on race day.

Both of the Toro Rosso drivers’ futures still hang in the balance though, so it will be interesting to see which driver ends the season on top.

11 – Nick Heidfeld

Heidfeld has not performed up to expectations

Heidfeld has not performed up to expectations

Ranking in 2010: 16th (Only 5 races)

Review from 2010 ranking: “He will need to work fast just to get a drive for next year.”

Hailed as a consistent replacement for the injured Kubica, Heidfeld has not had the required impact at Renault so far.

The German has only just taken the lead in the championship standings battle with Vitaly Petrov. With 11 years of F1 experience, much more was expected, especially going up against a rookie driver.

Heidfeld has been soundly beaten in qualifying, being knocked out in Q1 on more than one occasion. Reliable driving as always has helped him in the races, but a lack of raw pace is holding Nick back.

10 – Michael Schumacher

Driver errors are still an issue for Schumacher

Driver errors are still an issue for Schumacher

Ranking in 2010: 12th

Review from 2010 ranking: “Schumacher’s 2011 campaign entirely hinges on the W02.”

Expected to be soundly beaten this year, Michael Schumacher has surprised some by showing much improvement from last year.

While his qualifying record against Nico Rosberg is still extremely poor, race day has allowed Schumacher to make huge progress, often held back by misfortune.

Punctures in Australia and Britain, DRS difficulties in China, as well as being swamped near the end of the Canadian GP, show that Michael’s points tally doesn’t reflect his occasionally great drives this year.

12 points is a gap that could be easily bridged with good luck. Further improvement this year would be the main aim for Schumacher.

9 – Vitaly Petrov

Petrov has improved compared to last year

Petrov has improved compared to last year

Ranking in 2010: 10th

Review from 2010 ranking: “2011 should see Petrov improve even more.”

A first-ever podium in Australia, followed by leading Heidfeld for most of this year – 2011 has not gone badly for the Russian.

Consistently out-qualifying Nick, often by huge margins, shows that Petrov has improved alongside Renault this year. However, it is still apparent that neither driver could hold a candle to Robert Kubica, who surely would be dicing it with the Red Bulls at this stage.

The hot-blown diffuser crackdown has hugely hurt the team, so expect to see Petrov and Heidfeld slip down the order. Still, it will be up to Petrov to take the majority of Renault’s points this year.

8 – Sergio Perez

Perez is arguably the rookie of the year

Perez is arguably the rookie of the year

Ranking in 2010: N/A

Review from 2010 ranking: N/A

Already a master of the 1-stop strategy, impressive pace has led many to praise Perez as rookie of the year.

With 7th place in his first ever F1 race, his talent was clearly apparent. Poor luck in Malaysia and China held him back, before another points finish in Spain.

His year was disrupted by a heavy crash in Monaco, ruling him out for 2 races. However, the smash did nothing to faze the Mexican, taking 11th on his return, then a career-best 7th in Britain.

A large tally of points could have been taken in Monaco and Canada, so Perez’s current total doesn’t reflect his excellent performances so far.

Two energetic rookies may not seem like an intelligent combo, but it has worked wonders for Sauber so far. With luck, Perez could even challenge to finish in the top 10 in the championship.

7 – Mark Webber

Webber has been dominated by his teammate

Webber has been dominated by his teammate

Ranking in 2010: 2nd

Review from 2010 ranking: “Dominant at times, disappointing at others, but still a wonderful campaign.”

While Sebastian Vettel continues to rip up tarmac at the front, Mark Webber seems to be lacking in pace, and is at risk of being overtaken by Fernando Alonso. What’s going on?

It’s not like the days of Ferrari domination, though. Back then, when Schumacher crushed his opponents to win, Barrichello would come around in 2nd place. This year, a single 2nd place is all Webber can muster so far.

In Australia, for example, Mark had absolutely no pace. His first pole position (Spain) was ruined by a bad start, relegating him to 4th after the chequered flag.

Webber has had good moments though. A spirited charge through the field in China saw him take 15 places back after a qualifying disaster.

However, his second pole saw him suffer a similar fate, slipping to 3rd during the race.

On the plus side, the Australian is yet to finish outside the top 5. Still, that doesn’t mean much when your teammate hasn’t fallen lower than 2nd at any point.

6 – Kamui Kobayashi

Kobayashi is as impressive as ever

Kobayashi is as impressive as ever

Ranking in 2010: 9th

Review from 2010 ranking: “Kobayashi has breathed fresh life into Formula 1 with his “unique” [driving] style.

Still as exciting to watch as ever, Kobayashi continues to punch well above his weight with scintillating drives.

If people were asked which car was quicker – the Mercedes or the Sauber – there would be little doubt that the Mercedes has much better pace. Because of this, seeing Kobayashi only 3 points behind 7-time world champion Schumacher will demonstrate how much Kamui is extracting from the car.

6 points finishes in a row is much better and more consistent than many drivers – only the Red Bulls, McLarens and Alonso can claim better records.

While teammate Perez is taking headlines for his special 1-stoppers, Kobayashi tends to take the 2-stop route. Compared to the rest of the grid, both Perez and Kobayashi have taken the least pit stops this year, which is a massive advantage.

Like Perez, a top 10 finish in the championship is well within Kamui’s reach.

Heidfeld confirmed as Kubica’s replacement

Nick Heidfeld has been chosen as Renault's driver for 2011

Nick Heidfeld has been chosen as Renault's driver for 2011

The Renault team have confirmed that Nick Heidfeld will replace the injured Robert Kubica for the 2011 season.

Nick was always the favourite for the drive, after leading the third day of testing in Jerez after a 1-day trial with the team.

Nick 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.”

Interestingly, when Robert Kubica was asked who he would prefer to be his replacement, he stated that he would have picked Vitantonio Liuzzi, Force India’s driver last year. The 26-year-old is friends with both drivers.

Heidfeld leads Jerez Day 3

Nick Heidfeld led Day 3 in Jerez

Nick Heidfeld led Day 3 in Jerez

Nick Heidfeld made the best possible application for the empty Renault seat, by leading the third day of testing in Jerez.

Fernando Alonso had led the timesheets for most of the day, but with an hour to go Heidfeld 1.20.361 lap put him on top. Michael Schumacher concentrated on long runs, and was 3rd.

Lewis Hamilton only completed 36 laps, but was still quick enough to go 4th. Kamui Kobayashi was 5th, despite causing two red flags after stopping out on track twice. Sebastian Vettel was 6th.

Sebastien Buemi caused another red flag when he Curva Angel Nieto, and could only manage 7th. Heikki Kovalainen was 8th, and Rubens Barrichello lost a lot of time with a KERS problem, demoting him to 9th.

Paul di Resta spun at the same spot as Buemi, and was 10th, while Jerome D’Ambrosio was 11th and 2.5 seconds off the Force India.

Heidfeld said he “couldn’t have done any better” with his driving today, but was still unsure would he get the drive with Renault this year. Adrian Sutil, who handed over his Force India to Di Resta today, complained about the durability of the super-soft Pirelli tyre:

"It’s a good tyre for one lap.

Sometimes you probably lose a little bit in the last sector, already, so you have a 
very good first and second sector, the last one drops away, but it’s still a lap 
time improvement.

It will be interesting how it lasts during a race distance, they’re going to be 
really, really critical.

The medium (tyre) we have is different. It’s very hard, quite a lot harder, and it 
doesn’t last longer, for some reason.

So it’s just very slow in the first few laps and the degradation starts very early, 
still, even with the hard compound. I was not so confident on that tyre and not so 
happy. it’s just the difference you have between the tyres. It’s pretty big.”

Heikki Kovalainen, meanwhile, was pleased with the progress of the Lotus car:

“The whole concept is now a modern Formula 1 car. It’s much more like a Formula 1 
car should be.

The rear end is very good. The gearbox and the engine feels good, the gear-changes 
and generally the rear end is working really well.

And the chassis feels like a proper Formula 1 car. It’s much, much lighter. This 
time last year we were overweight, we could not take any weight out of the car. 
Now we have ballast in the car – a lot of ballast.

So it’s a huge difference. I don’t know how much the chassis is lighter – I think 
it’s around 20 kilos, something like that.

Of course we still need to improve and find more pace. But it’s very encouraging 
what the team has been able to do in a short period of time. Of course now it gets 
difficult – the last part to catch the guys ahead of us is going to be tricky.”

Times from Jerez Day 3:

Pos  Driver              Car                   Time       Gap       Laps
 1.  Nick Heidfeld       Renault               1.20.361             86
 2.  Fernando Alonso     Ferrari               1.20.493   0.132     131
 3.  Michael Schumacher  Mercedes              1.21.054   0.693     114
 4.  Lewis Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes      1.21.099   0.738     36
 5.  Kamui Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari        1.21.242   0.881     84
 6.  Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull-Renault      1.21.574   1.213     98
 7.  Sebastien Buemi     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1.21.681   1.320     92
 8.  Heikki Kovalainen   Lotus-Renault         1.21.711   1.350     61
 9.  Rubens Barrichello  Williams-Cosworth     1.22.227   1.866     99
10.  Paul di Resta       Force India-Mercedes  1.22.945   2.584     64
11.  Jerome D'Ambrosio   Virgin-Cosworth       1.25.471   5.110     72

Heidfeld to be evaluated for Renault drive

Nick Heidfeld will be testing with Renault this weekend

Nick Heidfeld will be testing with Renault this weekend

Nick Heidfeld is to share a car with Bruno Senna this weekend in Jerez, as Renault seek a replacement for he injured Robert Kubica.

Kubica, who of course was involved in a rally crash last week, will probably be out for the entire season, and Renault have already made moves to shuffle their line-up. Vitaly Petrov will continue to drive one of the Renaults, but the other drive is up for contention.

Bruno Senna, one of the team’s test drivers, is in the running, as is Vitantonio Liuzzi and Nick Heidfeld. Nick will be evaluated by the team this weekend at Jerez, according to a statement:

Lotus Renault GP has revised its driver line-up for this week’s test session in Jerez 
de la Frontera, Spain.

Vitaly will drive the R31 on Thursday and Friday, as originally scheduled. For 
Saturday and Sunday, the team will give mileage to Bruno Senna and will also 
evaluate Nick Heidfeld, who is a potential replacement for Robert Kubica as a 
race driver. The exact running order for the weekend will be confirmed on 
Friday evening.

If Senna gets the drive, it is believed that he will take the second driver role, while Petrov would be the lead driver. On the other hand, if Heidfeld or Liuzzi is hired, then either of these two will lead the team.

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