In truth, his fortunes in F1 were shaped all the way back in 2001, when following a meteoric rise up through the ranks in the junior formulae and promising performances as a grand prix rookie – and despite a long association with both McLaren and Mercedes – he was overlooked by the Woking-based outfit in favour of his Sauber team-mate Kimi Raikkonen in a move that launched Kimi's career but arguably sunk Nick's. Raikkonen went on to claim 18 race victories and the 2007 drivers' crown with Ferrari; Heidfeld is still looking to break his duck.
A decade on, though, he finally has his chance to right that wrong, with a car that on testing form at least, could just be the dark horse of the campaign and a bona fide
threat to the likes of anticipated front-runners Red Bull Racing, Ferrari and McLaren.
Yes, he may not be the most dynamic or colourful character in the paddock – and let's not beat about the bush, there are rather too many who waste no opportunity to sell themselves or brag about their potential – but he is, as defending world champion Sebastian Vettel has acknowledged, honest, dependable and, most importantly of all, exactly what Renault needs right now. He will get the job done.
Nick Heidfeld is one of the sport's good guys, and a bloody good racer to-boot. All of us here at Crash.net
wish him the very best for F1 2011 and beyond.