Nick Heidfeld was satisfied with his test for Renault in Valencia today in which he set the fastest lap of the day.
Speaking to reporters after the test he said: “Yes I’m very pleased. Not only with the position, because that depends on various factors, but I’m happy with the job I’ve done today. I think I couldn’t have done better.
“I did the best I could, I didn’t do any mistakes. I’ve already helped quite a bit to understand the car which at least over the day helped but this is something you’d have to ask Eric [Boullier].”
But he said he doesn’t know when he’ll find out if he’ll be racing for the team in 2011:
“I don’t know, I haven’t discussed it yet.
“My focus today was fully on this day and this was what mattered. It doesn’t help if you think ‘after this test will they tell me now or later?’ It’s just taking your concentration away.”
Heidfeld said his priority was getting used to the car and adapting it:
“The balance in the morning was, of course, bad, but it was the first time I’d sat in the car. The engineers did a good job in improving that.
“We didn’t have time to do so much in one day but the car is already very different to how it was this morning, suiting my driving style a lot more. It is still not ideal, from the feeling I have I hope there’s more to come. But it’s a good base.
“In the beginning it feels a bit like sitting on top of the car and something is happening and you really expect it and don’t exactly know how to react to it.
“Then if you drive more and more you feel more like you’re at one with the car. You already know what might happen next and know how to react, it just takes some time.
“I think we already started today, whether I drive or not, to try and improve the car and find out directions and where problems are, where strengths are.
“I’m obviously trying today to do the best job in order to drive in the future but I’m also just using it as normally and trying to develop the car.”
Despite setting the fastest time of the day Heidfeld isn’t reading too much into the lap times:
“I think does mean that the car is not shit! But not a lot more than that.
“I think any of the guys here, if you make the car empty and put very soft tyres on all day, anybody could be in front. But on the other side let’s say it’s not a bad sign.”
Heidfeld picked Red Bull as the team to beat this year after watching their car on track yesterday:
“I would definitely not put us, Lotus Renault, as favourites.
“For me it’s very clearly Red Bull that is the favourite. When I walked the track yesterday they looked again, as last year, very, very good.”
Heidfeld used KERS at BMW and said his experience of it was useful for Renault:
“I have some experience there and know how it can feel, should or shouldn’t feel and what we could try. I would not say it’s a big problem at the moment, it was working fine.
“There’s some fine-tuning but the base was good. It’s certainly better than at BMW when I used it in 2009 where I didn’t really like it.”
He also used the new Drag Reduction System today but has reservations over the rear wing device: “We’ve already said last year – most of the drivers and the GPDA – that it might be too much.
“And when you’re not in the car I also thought about it and you think “come on, it’s two buttons, it’s OK”, but when you drive with it, it’s really a lot of things to do at the same time.”
He added that his hands are not big enough to use all the car’s systems properly:
“What made it a bit more difficult is that I cannot reach all the paddles and levers that I should. My hands are as small as my body so I cannot reach all of the positions.
“So we might do some adjustments. It can be changed and if you do it more and more often you get used to it. But it’s not easy.”
Heidfeld described his surprise at potentially being in a position to race in F1 this year:
“It’s a bit unreal. I still have to try and realise it because a week ago, before Robert had his bad accident, it was something I didn’t even dream about – not Robert’s accident, but getting into the car.
“Of course you always hope but it was so unrealistic. And now I’m sitting here, having a good chance to do the season.”
Bruno Senna will drive the car tomorrow.
2011 F1 testing
Image © Pirelli