To no one’s surprise, Lotus Renault has made official what we’ve been speculating on since Robert Kubica’s crash. Veteran driver Nick Heidfeld will fill in for Kubica until the Polish driver is healthy enough to return to F1 racing. Heidfeld tested well in Jerez, Spain, and has impressed team engineers with his technical strength and ability to provide feedback on car setup. He brings 11 years worth of experience in piloting an F1 car to the team, but has never won an F1 race. He has the dubious honor of most podium finishes without a victory, and is considered by many to be long overdue.
Heidfeld seems grateful for the opportunity, and Autoblog quotes him as saying, “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.”
The biggest question remaining is how well the new Lotus Renault R31 stacks up against the competition; if it’s the right car, I think Heidfeld has a good opportunity to break his streak. I certainly will be cheering for him this season.