Heidfeld puts Renault back on top in Jerez

2011 F1 testing

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Nick Heidfeld, Renault, Jerez, 2011
Nick Heidfeld, Renault, Jerez, 2011

Nick Heidfeld staked his claim to a drive at Renault by setting the fastest lap on the third day of testing at Jerez.

Heidfeld clocked a 1’20.361 in the R31 with just over an hour to go in Saturday’s test.

It’s the second time Renault have headed a test session this year – Robert Kubica was quickest in the final day at Valencia before he was injured in a rally crash on Sunday.

Huge crowds turned out at the Circuito de Jerez to see Fernando Alonso at the wheel of the Ferrari F150th Italia.

The Ferrari driver moved to the top of the times in the morning and stayed there until he was usurped by Heidfeld.

Behind him was Michael Schumacher, who did a series of long runs in his Mercedes.

McLaren had a difficult day with the MP4-26. Lewis Hamilton covered just 35 laps, although he was quick enough to end the session fourth.

Rubens Barrichello also lost time due to another problem with KERS on the Williams.

Kamui Kobayashi caused two red flags in his Sauber, stopping on the track in the morning and late in the afternoon.

Shortly afterwards Paul di Resta spun off at Curva Angel Nieto, bringing out the red flags again.

His team said he’d “been struggling with the brakes all day” in his first outing in the VJM04. “We’re investigating issues with brakes tonight and fixing for tomorrow” they added.

The session was restarted but Sebastien Buemi went off at the same place, causing a fourth stoppage.

The session was restarted with one minute left to go. Sebastian Vettel, Schumacher, Hamilton, Heidfeld and Barrichello all went out for a final run, but there was no time left for any more flying laps.

DriverCarBest timeLapsDifference
1Nick HeidfeldRenault R311’20.36186
2Fernando AlonsoFerrari F150th Italia1’20.4931310.132
3Michael SchumacherMercedes W021’21.0541140.693
4Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes MP4-261’21.099360.738
5Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari C301’21.242840.881
6Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault RB71’21.574981.213
7Sebastien BuemiToro Rosso-Ferrari STR61’21.681921.320
8Heikki KovalainenLotus-Renault T1281’21.711611.350
9Rubens BarrichelloWilliams-Cosworth FW331’22.227991.866
10Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes VJM041’22.945642.584
11Jerome d’AmbrosioVirgin-Cosworth MVR-021’25.471725.110

2011 F1 testing

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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120 comments on “Heidfeld puts Renault back on top in Jerez”

  1. It seems like rb7 is above anything else.

    1. How can you tell?

      1. It’s a bit tricky, but look at rb7 times on the longer runs… not only from todays test but from the previous ones as well.

        1. Maybe I’m blind, but where can one find those full stint times?

          Considering their dominance over the past year and a half I also keep thinking Red Bull is simply taking it easy on the laptimes, but few evidence to back it up. :)

          1. Yeap… lifting on the straights and just testing through the corners… the easy way to test but hide your pace.

            Sorry, but RBR still seem way ahead.

          2. Having said that pretty much everyone has some major developments before the start of the season so you really can’t tell anything.

          3. the applet at this site has each drivers lap times if you click on their names.

            I think Ferrari are pretty solid as well. All their long runs were consistent and pretty fast.

        2. Yeah, apparently the remarkable thing about the RB7’s times so far is the fact that they remain consistent (and relatively quick) during long stints.

    2. Actually, even if you invert the list, there are still five above them.

    3. According to some guy in some top team, the Ferrari has a slight edge over the Red Bull.

      I read that on the BBC Sports site.

      1. It’s not Luca is it?

  2. Anyone who knows the reason Mclaren did so few laps?

    1. Due to a shortage of spare parts.

      1. I was more than a bit surprised to read that McLaren couldn’t run their proper test program today due to a lack of spare parts. That is VERY un-McLaren like!

    2. A lack of parts apparently.

      1. If so, isn’t that kind of bad organization with such little testing available and after using the first set of tests just to try out the tyres?

  3. Hmm, with the re-introduction of KERS could we see dramatically lower reliability compared with 2010? Im sure the teams will work hard to try get all the kinks sorted out by Bahrain, though part of me wishes they wont so the races will be slightly more unpredictable…

    1. I’m not sure. Mclaren were reliable with it in 09 and Ferrari only had the odd issue such as Kimi’s fire at Malaysia (or maybe Spain) but some surprises would be nice!

      1. With the re-introduction of KERS could we see Massa’s visor problems return? ;-)

  4. Well done Nick! It’ll be good to have a competitive driver stand in for Robert. The usual suspects are definitely all quick. I’m disappointed that McLaren did so little running today though, but 4th despite that is definitely reassuring. So far Ferrari & Red Bull are definitely the teams to beat when you analyse pace over long runs, but Merc, McLaren & definitely Renault are showing serious promise. I’m also pleased to see Lotus doing so well!

    1. Well, I echo your sentiments. Makes me feel a bit confident that they will indeed be in contention of points scoring positions.

  5. It seems Nick wants to be as fast as possible to get the R31 seat, I hope Senna show us some good driving tomorrow ;)

    1. There is a risk he crashes to try to be faster or almost as fast. When Nick is up to his best like that Senna doesn’t stand a chance…

      1. Senna has a chance if he can prove that he is notably better then Petrov. At least, I would think he should have a chance, I think it is really too early to see how he is in a proper F1 car. I hope he impresses tomorrow. I really don’t like Petrov as a driver.

    2. I would love to see lap graphs to get a feel of their consistency over multiple laps.

      Is that something you could do Keith?

      Fast over one lap is fairly “easy” but to keep consistency over longer runs is the tricky part. Qualification of course is very important but when it comes down to it the race is what gets you on the podium and the race is more then a few laps and if you have to change shoes every 7-10 laps your in trouble.

  6. Indranil Dudhane
    12th February 2011, 16:09

    I wonder what was the point in doing another lap right at the end

    1. Headline grabbing I suspect

    2. With the testing restrictions so tighht at the moment, all teams will try and get every metre of running they can.

    3. But that lap was not set right at the end. More like 2/3rds in (lap 58). It was at the start of a 10 lap run, so not even a simple glory run, pretty much comparable with Schumi’s yesterday and what Alonso did today.

      I see it as a confirmatoin the Renault is pretty solid.

  7. I bet Petrov is glad he’s got a watertight contract!

    1. have you read it then?

      1. No, but I suspect that they won’t get that Lada money if he’s not driving!

  8. My wonder is, if NH is in a really good position mid season (say top 3) and RK is ready to return what will renault do? lol. maybe Petrov would have to stand down for RK to return.


    1. Depends what sort of contract he signs really doesn’t it? If Petrov has a contract for the year and Heidfeld gets one saying he has to give up his seat then they won’t have much choice.

      1. They’d have a simple way around it though. Claim that Kubica isn’t physically ready for a formula 1 car. That way they could keep Heidfeld driving.

    2. If he’s doing that well, then, yeah, that would make the most sense. Of course, I doubt he’ll be a title contender anyway.

      If Renault really love Petrov enough, he can regain his seat for 2012 (which he is somehow contracted for).

    3. RK isn’t going to be back mid season so a mute point, but late season its a no brainer it would be Petrov on the side lines to give NH a chance to finish as high as possible.

      1. mute point? Do you mean ‘moot’ point?

    4. Who knows? Maybe Petrov will be in contention too.

      1. I dont like to write people off without giving them a chance to prove themselves, but meh…

      2. Now that would be bit of a suprise, but why not!
        Off course it all depends on when Kubica would be returning and how the team are doing and how confident they are Kubica will be immediately on the pace.
        Certainly if Nick is in a good position for the championship with 2-3 rounds to go, they might just let him take it to the end. Or not.

    5. If Nick was top 3 mid season, Kubica wouldn’t be allowed to return till next year. No way you would jeopardise a situation like that by changing horses and shifting emphasis in the garage. And assuming he’d take a few races to get up to speed he wouldn’t be brought in to secure team points either.

      Anyway, it’s all hypothetical as he won’t be back this season, I wouldn’t put a quid on it at a million to one.

      1. true. even in top 5. and as for 2012 – who knows what it could bring on.
        really pity for Robert.

        1. lol… Robert is going to wind up with a good team next year. The pity’s the loss of a seemingly decent Renault this year for Robert. He’ll get another good car next year in all likelihood whether its at Renault or somewhere else.
          As a thought, I don’t expect that Webber will be at RBR next year if Vettel is. There is still tension there and they are just sucking it up for another year, but they will probably break it off at the end of the year.

  9. Nick stayed on the track, and no doubt gave some very good feedback to the team. The drive is his, regardless of what Senna does tomorrow.

    1. Agreed. As much as I’d love to see Senna get the drive, Renault need someone with experience to hold the team up on track (Petrov can’t do that).

      If i were Senna I’d use the test as a chance to experience a good car, give some feedback and enjoy it.

      We’ve seen quite a few spins and crashes from the new and newish boys so far. So hopefully he can keep that to a minimum.

    2. My thoughts exactly, VXR. It was never going to be a shootout between Senna and Heidfeld for the seat. I’d imagine that Nick showed the brass all they needed to see in order to give him the drive.

  10. oh well looks like it not macca’s year again. anybody know what spares were missing? just a bluff i reckon, we’ll get to bahrain and they’ll be 1/1.2 secs behind redbull

    1. How can you say that? Their times over three days with all their drivers are suspiciously consistent. I don’t think they’re showing their pace, just debugging.

      1. Looks like they’re might confident. No real technical problems with the car but they’ve only done 36 laps. How’d you read that?

  11. that’s it! well done in securing the seat, Nick!

  12. well done Nick

    1. Hope he gets the seat. I’d rather see a fast driver then a pay driver

  13. Why is the Virgin so slow? Is it just D’ambrosio being slow or is the car that bad?

    1. Glock was only a couple of seconds off the top time yesterday. Probably doing very high fuel load runs.

    2. It’s both…

      1. Yea Virgin doesn’t look good. i really think they gained only a second.

  14. ForzaLaScuderia (@)
    12th February 2011, 16:28

    Great drive by Heidfeld, Alonso 131 laps…wow. Nice to see the Ferrari reliable and consistently near the top of the table throughout the testing season.

  15. I have a feeling that 2012 will see Nick and Robert together again.

    1. Unless € and $ will decide. Skill-wise, Robert and Nick outclass Petrov and I wanted them to be reunited at Renault last year.

    2. You know what, I was just wondering the same thing.

    3. That would be good :D

      We already know they make for great team mates.

  16. Redbull: Sandbagging much?

    1. I don’t know really. Does anyone know what fuel loads and tyres they were running for each of their runs?…….thought not. ;)

      1. Meh, I guess so :D
        I think it’ll be mighty close between the top 5/6 teams whatever happens!

  17. What happenned to Mclaren??!! Lack of parts?!! Seriously? :-)

    1. Probably one or two bits got left behind in Germany.

  18. The RB7 is far ahead of everyone else i think. Vettel at one point did something like 15 laps in the 1:22´s. Of course i dont know what tires or fuel loads he had but it was constantly quick.

    1. And therein lies the problem. No one has a clue what fuel load or tyres they were running to achieve that.

  19. Lotus 1.4 seconds short of the current best time at Jerez. They’re ‘faster’ than the Williams and Force India have been able to show so far. Very promising, I hope they’ll be up there in the real pack from the start, especially since their car is one of the best looking around.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Nick’s time has as much to do with Renault wanting to be up there as it has to do with Nick’s driving, although I have no idea what sort of stint he was on when he set that time. After losing one of the current top drivers for the season there are a lot of anxious people in need of reassuring. Still, good productive day for Renault either way.

    Can’t wait for them to go at in Bahrain and settle this excruciating speculation though. :)

  20. If i remember right Nick´s 1:20,3 was on the second lap of an 8 lap run, if i remember it right. We probably can guess it was on the super soft ones.

    1. If it was second lap then it could not have been super softs, surely? Drivers have said that there is barely one lap in those tyres.

      1. One lap for warming up, and a second fast one. Same thing with Schumacher yesterday

      2. Not 100% sure but I think it was of super softs.

        The tyres will still do 10 laps but at seriously increasing times.

        Saying they have one lap in them means the fastest lap, not that they can be ran for anymore laps.

  21. That’s why they call him Quick Nick. So beat that Mr. Senna! I bet Bruno will crash the car tomorrow.

  22. Make that a 9 lap run:

    67 1:22.459
    68 1:20.361 -2.098
    69 1:22.261 +1.9
    70 1:22.623 +0.362
    71 1:22.420 -0.203
    72 1:23.115 +0.695
    73 1:23.913 +0.798
    74 1:24.083 +0.17
    75 1:25.394 +1.311

  23. Anyone else notice that McLaren’s lap times are suspiciously similar across all three days so far?

    1. That`s their absolute limit I fear.

      1. Lol Alexi, I see their times more in correlation to RBR as they were always close to each other.

    2. I suppose they are testing and comparing parts doing the same things on track?

  24. McLaren had a difficult day with the MP4-26. Lewis Hamilton covered just 35 laps,

    do you know why?

    1. A lack of spare parts.

  25. ”Fernando ran with an image of his friend Robert Kubica’s helmet on his own one”, I read this on the Ferrari website.

    Any pictures?!

      1. That’s a nice touch by Fernando!

  26. Too early but….
    Order based on stats so far and the context of those stats (a bit subjective I admitt)


    but who really knows, the picture didn’t appear until the 3rd test last year and suspect the same this year. Depending on the stints they do I think it might be possible to predict after the next test.

    1. PS not really enough data on Mclaren.

      1. The next test at Barcelona (loads more Alonso fans) will give a much better idea of where all the cars are at.

        1. Well exactly…. plus the teams start to get low on testing time before the first GP and need to start putting the actual components that will be raced on the car.

          They also start doing Quali sims

          1. Oh, and its a GP track.

  27. Younger Hamilton
    12th February 2011, 17:35

    Its a Shame not to see Lewis running that much,problems with Brakes.But hey 4th will salvage something after the difficult day for McLaren but hey its Testing.Hey are Ferrari and Mercedes and Sauber running on low Fuel to make the car look good,they’re most certainly are in my opinion.I know what McLaren and Red Bull are up to with longer runs and evaluating their long run pace before showing off their goods in Barcelona and Bahrain(Final two tests) Hope to see an indication before this test ends!!btw i think Nick would be a great replacement for Robert,the experience and skill is what he’s got.

    1. They may be using softer tyres, but I would doubt that they are running on fumes given that most of the fastest lap times seem to come at the beginning of a multi-lap run.

    2. you are delusional. ferrari has been the fastest in 2 days ,the second fastest in 3 days and the fifth in one day (massa’s oil problem)do you think they are this consistent by trying to make the car loook good? go and watch the live timing,ferrari has been doing lung runs and the same type of runs as the other teams,even longer runs and their car hasput ut at least 100 laps in all but one test. and by the way how do you know what mclaren and the rbs are doing?do you work there or is just your love and affection for the english team that make you write assumptions that you have not idea about.

      1. Says the man who blatantly worships Ferrari

        1. no,a realistic person who is not blind becuase of the affectionfor the teams. all that I wrote are facts!!

          1. They are testing the cars, not racing them at the moment. Fastest times are fairly irrelevant, consistency over long runs are more of an indication of car performance at the moment.
            The red bull and ferrari are both looking good over long runs so far, not enough data on the mclaren, and they are further behind in their program then the other which makes it even harder to tell how they are performing.

            Those are the facts :) haha

  28. everybody is saying that RK is coming back midseason. To tell you the truth i have to see it to believe it.
    What we can be sure of, it’s that when Robert sees heidfeld first in today’s laptimes chart, he is going to punch the wall with the recently operated fist.
    The lotus renault is fast, and the fastest driver on the pack is lying on a hospital bed.

    1. I actually think, he will be confirmed his tip for a replacement driver was good, and then ring up the team and Nick to get some feedback and give tips.

      They are definitely going there for a debrief, good talk after Barcelona taking the data with them (Boulliers said that), so Robert will be involved all the way through.
      Will be even better motivation to come back stronger than ever, possibly this year (not betting on that though) but at least next season.

  29. If a sponsor is on a winning car, but the paid driver isn’t performing well, I don’t say why they wouldn’t just switch drivers. If it means the difference between the team being in the running for the championship or not, then they should.

    Senna has a chance if he can prove that he is notably better then Petrov, and close to Nick’s times. At least, I would think he should have a chance, I think it is really too early to see how he is in a proper F1 car. I hope he impresses tomorrow. I really don’t like Petrov as a driver.

    1. Petrov has a contract for him to drive this season. Senna has one that doesn’t. That’s how it is in F1.

      And Senna hasn’t really driven an F1 car yet, has he.

  30. Well, it seems that Heidfeld has really done all you can ask of him!!

    I will be very surprised if he doesn’t now get the Renault drive.

  31. Me too, it’s up to Senna to match that if he can.

    1. Not just match, top by quite a margin: The car-development experience of Heidfeld makes it his drive, unless Senna shows some blinding speed.

      1. Heidfeld would have to have a disastrous drive in order to lose Kubica’s replacement role. Boullier said they needed an experienced driver, to Senna never was a real contender. Eric also said recently that he’s been talking to Liuzzi and De La Rosa, and if Heidfeld drives well on Sunday (which he did) – the drive is his. End of the topic.

        1. I meant Saturday of course:)

        2. I agree. From what Heidfeld says, he is able to get feedback, compare tyres and KERS usage as well as find the setup road from experience.
          That is something Senna just cannot give with only a year of truck driving behind him in F1.

          1. Or has Keith’s banhammer fallen on him?

          2. Yep, that was back yesterday for a while, but Keith got rid of it fast.

      2. how would he show a “blinding speed” in car he could possibly not develop?

        I think people are expecting too much from Brunno … :(

  32. *which would be impressive but looks doubtful.

  33. The RB7’s engine cover doesn’t have the “half” shark fin anymore. So much for having space to show the bull’s tail.

    1. I thought they might paint the device for the adjustable rear wing red to make that tail, it has exactly the right form :-D.

      That car looks a lot better without the fin though.

  34. William’s website lists Shumacher on top, not Heidfeld.

  35. Williams site lists all times from all days, not just a single days times.

    Heidfeld really is criminally underrated. Today pretty much confirmed what any major F1 fan suspected, he’s got the drive in the bag.

  36. guess bruno senna is having bad dreams right now…
    really sure heidfeld will be the one who drives in place of kubica…

  37. IMO, Heidfeld is quicker than Bruno, and Petrov is bringing the big bucks, so again, IMO, it’s a no brainer (and probably a done deal already)

    Race seat 1 – Heidfeld
    Race seat 2 – Petrov

    I’d like to see Bruno in a good, fast car, though.

  38. Good performance by Nick, he need this,if he can carry his momentum then I guess he will be given that race seat.

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