Nick Heidfeld has admitted that he hopes his 'usual job' will be enough to convince Lotus Renault GP to employ him as a stand-in for his injured former BMW-Sauber team-mate Robert Kubica in the F1 2011 World Championship – as he stakes his claim during testing at Jerez today.
Heidfeld has emerged as the overwhelming favourite to secure the vacant Lotus Renault GP berth until Kubica is able to return from the hand, arm and leg injuries he sustained in a high-speed crash on the Ronde di Andora Rally in Italy last weekend, from which he was lucky to escape with his life.
As he undergoes surgery to multiple fractures, the Pole is likely to be out for the entire campaign – although he insists he is determined to rejoin the fray as quickly as possible [see separate story – click here
] – meaning Heidfeld is staring a golden opportunity to revive his stalled F1 career right in the face.
After just two hours in the R31, the 33-year-old had already bettered the time set by his would-be team-mate Vitaly Petrov the previous day by some six tenths of a second, and there have thus far been none of the spins that blighted the latter's running, with the young Russian blaming his unfamiliarity with KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems), of which Heidfeld, of course, has plenty of experience from 2009.
Lotus Renault GP reserve driver Bruno Senna is due to be similarly evaluated on Sunday, and both Force India F1 refugee Vitantonio Liuzzi and Sauber exile Pedro de la Rosa are reportedly waiting in the wings for the German to slip up – but the common paddock consensus is that barring a disaster for 'Quick Nick', the deal is all-but sealed.
“It's not necessarily having to push myself [to impress the team],” he told BBC Sport
, although pointedly, he has just gone quickest of anyone on day three in Spain. “I will just do my usual job. I've been speaking to Renault anyway for the last two years about being involved with the team in some way.
“Robert has been doing a great job. If I can step in until he's better, that would be great. I haven't spoken to him directly, but I have sent him a text and I'm very happy that he's on the mend.”