Nick Heidfeld – 8
At the start of February, on a normal Sunday morning, I went off to church still thinking about the first pre-season test. When I came back, the news of Robert Kubica’s accident hit like a stone. All day I kept checking anywhere I could to find new news, to find out if he was okay. All kinds of crazy rumours were going around. And of course another question that had to be answered – who would replace him?
In the end, the obvious choice was Robert’s former teammate Nick Heidfeld. ‘Quick Nick’ with all his podiums and no wins. Surely he would be the best driver to guide the team in Robert’s absence? Well, he’s done an okay job since then, but he hasn’t shone in the way that Renault were really expecting. Although he is ahead of Petrov in points, he really should be much further ahead. There is now talk of his replacement by Senna or Grosjean after the European rounds, though I doubt Grosjean would do that.
His season began in the worst way possible: while his teammate got into Q3, he was the fall guy and sat just in front of the two Lotuses on the grid. While he attempted to push his way through the field, he didn’t get any points in the end and finished 12th.
Malaysia was a complete turnaround, and he got the Renault into Q3 and ahead of Petrov. In the race, he pushed onwards and came home third, taking his 13th podium finish to make him the driver with the most podiums without a win. China was another disappointing pointless race, with Petrov picking up two for the team, but then he had a run of three points finishes in Turkey, Spain and Monaco.
Next stop Canada, and an error of judgement saw Heidfeld push his front wing into Kobayashi’s car. The win slipped under his front wheels, and he went skidding off the track. He scored more points in the next two races, before being put out of the German Grand Prix in the early laps by Sebastien Buemi. And then came the Hungarian Grand Prix. Fighting to try and overtake Heikki Kovalainen, he came in for a pit stop where the car was held on the throttle for too long. Renault’s exhausts were apparently already damaged, and the strain was too much. Fire resulted, for the second time for the German whose car had also had a fire in free practice in Spain. Hopefully, Nick won’t have to do much more escaping from fire this year! He’s already had a crazy-enough year!
Worst qualifying: 24*
Best qualifying: 6
Worst finish: 12 (Australia, China)
Best finish: 3 (Malaysia)
Average difference: 1.09
Laps completed: 564/681 (83%)
Average race position: 10.60 (Best: 4.4 Malaysia; Worst: 17.7 Germany, Hungary)