Just going into the second race of the season, probably the closest among in recent years, I felt F1 is far from complete, This is the closest season in recent years, certain drivers deserve to be in F1 then others, It is far too early to judge as to who should be replaced and who shouldn't. As I repeat being close means certain things would have gone better way for many teams probably with strategies, better resources, better technical staff or perhaps better drivers. Drivers with a little more experience and little more reputation could have been the difference for Winning or losing.
What's The Story:
On 6 February 2011, Robert Kubica was severely injured in the crash during a rally in Italy. This was a severe blow to the Team, As the Team itself was just re-branding itself into Lotus Renault. There were lots of discussions as to who will replace Rober Kubica and the search was on. Bruno Senna was earlier in that month announced as the Test and Reserve driver was surprisingly not announced as the driver due to his lack of experience. Few days later it was announced that Nick Heidfeld who had a decent run with BMW Sauber in 2010 will be Testing for the Team. Based on the evaluation from the Testing, it was announced that Nick Heidfeld will be driving for the injured Robert Kubica and he will be sharing the duties with Viatly Petrov
Results did start to come in as early as the second race for Nick Heidfeld who finished on Podium at Sepang. The Team had a disappointing run in the third race but Nick Heidfeld was constantly in the point scoring position thereafter. But Back to Back retirements in Germany and Hungary did not help his cause and during the three week summer week break it was announced that Nick Heidfeld will not be further driving the car as he is replaced by Bruno Senna.
Here are few tit-bits
Why was he replaced?
When Nick Heidfeld was signed, Renault Team Boss Eric Boullier said that the Team was looking for someone who was experienced and who would lead the Team. And that Nick Heidfeld was the ideal man for the job as he was quick, Experienced and was technically strong with his feedback and understanding the car.
Few Months later when Nick Heidfeld was replaced. Eric Boullier stated that after reviewing the performance and the level of motivation within the Team, They had to take some decision as to show new direction and that the Renault Team required a 'shake-up' and the only way they could achieve was by changing the drivers. He also stated that the German failed to deliver the speed nor the leadership qualities that the Team hoped for
Nick Heidfeld -The Cult Of Personality
Here are few interesting records that the German possess
Nick Heidfeld: P11
Mark Webber: P10
In the Year 2010, He was brought into the struggling Sauber squad, Where he replaced Pedro De la Rosa and he matched his teammate Kobayashi in the last 5 races of the season
The Final Cut:
Lotus Renault Team having stated that Nick Heidfeld didn't live up the expectations of the Team was very unfortunate. They had a car which was designed under the blown diffuser system and had to redesign the system during the British Grand Prix. Much of the time, It was about performance of the car and not the driver, Although they can say that Nick Heidfeld didn't have the pace in qualifying, He really did have the pace in the race and for the matter of fact that he was ahead of his Teammate really meant that the decision to replace Heidfeld should have been properly explained. Immediately after the deal with Senna was announced, New sponsors poured in. It might be pure coincidence but it could also be a fact that Renault was struggling in terms of funding and Senna was a medium to get more funds in.
Nick Heidfeld deserves another chance in Formula One. His Records speak for him and he just deserves a nice car. Although he is really unlucky having yet to register a win in F1. He has some solid records to speak and he deserves to stay here in F1.
The Bottomline: Nick Heidfeld is one of the few drivers to be highly underrated in this F1 circus!