Robert Kubica is considered one of the best driver on the F1 grid today and now former team mate Nick Heidfeld will have to fill in for him after a severe accident at a rally event where an Armco barrier pierced into the Skoda Fabia S2000 and nearly severed the Pole’s arm.
After a week of speculation, following Heidfeld’s test sessions in Jerez, where he topped the time sheet several times, Lotus Renault announced that the 33-year old German has joined the team and will take over driving duties from the recovering Kubica.
Heidfeld is one of the most experienced drivers in Formula 1 having started 172 races over the last 11 seasons. He will race alongside Vitaly Petrov when the season gets underway in Bahrain on 13 March.
Nick Heidfeld: "I would have liked to come back to Formula 1 in different circumstances, but I'm proud to have been given this chance.
“Everything has happened so quickly, but I've been very impressed by what I have seen so far in terms of the facilities and the dedication of the people at Enstone.
“I really enjoyed the test last week in Jerez and I've already settled in well with the guys at the track. I have a good feeling for the car, which is quite innovative. I'm extremely motivated and can't wait for the season to begin," he added
Team Boss Eric Boullier was clearly relieved to secure the services of an experienced pilot.
"The team has been through a very difficult couple of weeks and we had to react quickly. We gave Nick a chance in Jerez last week and he really impressed us.
“He's quick, experienced and is very strong technically with his feedback and understanding of the car.
“We always said the priority was to have an experienced driver in the car and we feel he is the ideal man for the job. We are pleased to welcome Nick to the team and look forward to a strong start to the season with him and Vitaly in Bahrain," said Boullier.
Heidfeld and Petrov will be taking part in the Barcelone test sessions from 18 to 21 February and both will take part in pit-stop practice on Friday morning.
Petrov will take to the track on Friday afternoon and Sunday while Heidfeld will be driving on Saturday and Monday.