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The search for Kubica's replacement hots up

We've got a round-up of all the action from the second testing session of the season in Jerez

Posted Feb 13, 2011 by Weekend Round-Up

Nick Heidfield - worthy stand in for Kubica?

There is no doubting that Robert Kubica is a tough act to follow and as one BBC pundit put it, it’s such an awful shame that it took a horrific rally car crash to bring the driver to the attention of the world.

Despite Kubica having won only one grand prix in his career, he is classed by many as being different to the other mid-ground drivers; in fact many Formula 1 observers and the drivers themselves regard Robert Kubica as one of the finest drivers in the championship at the moment. David Coulthard said recently you could talk about Kubica in the same breath as the likes of Alonso or Hamilton and I think retired F1 driver Coulthard is spot on.

The thing holding Kubica back is the car. Try as he might, he hasn’t managed to secure a spot in one of the more competitive teams. He proved himself when he won in 2008 when he was part of BMW Sauber in what was a fantastic race in Canada but has since faltered mid-table racing for Renault. Kubica’s condition is said to be stabilising following an operation last week and although the Polish racing driver is keen to get back in the hot seat, it is still though that he will spend much if not all of the 2011 season recovering. This means that Renault is scrambling to find a suitable replacement in time for the opening race in Bahrain.

We’ve talked previously about the three likely replacements for Kubica but I thought it wise to reassess the situation now that the second testing session of the season, held in Jerez, has drawn to a close.

Nick Heidfield proved he was worthy of replacing the injured Kubica at Renault as a long term stand-in when he chalked up a very impressive lap time of one minute, 20.361 seconds, the fastest on day three.

Bruno Senna, who is also gunning for the spot at Renault, managed a lap time of one minute, 21.400 on day four which again makes him joining the team look less likely.

Heidfield pointed out that lap times aren’t necessarily reflective of the driver as different teams are testing out all sorts of factors like new technology, tyres and optimum fuel levels. That being said, Heidfield was helping Renault appraise the new floor upgrade and he still managed a stellar lap time but of course the circumstances in each of the teams are different. The German said he enjoyed the day and admitted that there are always challenges to working in a new team, as far as I can see, Nick seemed to settle in pretty quickly.

Rubens Barrichello notched up the fastest lap time overall when on day four he unleashed a blistering lap time of one minute, 19.832 seconds. Michael Schumacher had previously topped the lap time leader board with a very impressive run out on day two in Spain.  

Nick Heidfield is still in my eyes the front runner to replace Kubica. The two had previously been team mates back when they both raced for BMW Sauber and Kubica stepped into replace Jacques Villeneuve after the Canadian fell out with the team bosses. Heidfield is a very capable veteran – I don’t think he will easily follow Kubica’s class act but Renault I’m sure will let him keep Robert’s seat warm.

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