Nick Heidfeld has become the hot favourite to replace the injured Robert Kubica in the Renault line-up after team boss Eric Boullier revealed that the German will be offered the drive if he performs in his outing with the team at Jerez this week.
Heidfeld is one of the drivers, alongside Bruno Senna and Tonio Liuzzi, who were believed to be in contention for the drive as Kubica continues to recover from the injuries he sustained in his rallying accident at the weekend. He will drive the new R31 at the weekend in Spain, with Senna also getting the chance to sample the car for the first time.
Boullier has now revealed that Heidfeld could secure the role if the team is happy with his performance at Jerez, with his experience being vital to the development of the car Renault hopes will be a contender during the year ahead.
“Nick is here and if I may say this without being arrogant, he is here to be evaluated,” Boullier was quoted by F1 Fanatic
on the opening day of testing in Spain. “Once we are finished the test, if we are happy with Nick then we will get Nick. If we are not, we will go to Barcelona with another driver.
“If the accident had happened in July or August, the car would have been developed, so we could have had the choice to go for a young driver to give him some miles and train and educate him in Formula 1. The accident, unfortunately, arrived right after the first shakedown of the season. We have to develop the car from scratch so the obvious choice is an experienced driver.”
Heidfeld was team-mate to Kubica from mid-2006 through to 2009 at BMW Sauber and actually outscored the Pole by 140 points to 131 during their three full years together, although Kubica took many of the headlines for the way in which he took his maiden win and launched a title challenge in 2008.