Renault and Heidfeld formally split

2011 F1 season

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Nick Heidfeld, Renault, Nurburgring, 2011

Renault and Nick Heidfeld have formally announced they have parted ways.

A statement released on Friday said the pair had reached “an amicable settlement” and split with immediate effect.

Team principal Eric Boullier said: “Our disagreement with Nick has been the subject of much media coverage lately, and we are pleased to have reached a swift and reasonable solution.

“Our separation process was already a painful one, and neither of us wanted to go through another legal hearing. We’re very grateful to Nick for the highly valuable contribution he’s made to the team. We certainly had good times together, in particular remembering our podium finish in Malaysia.

“He is a very strong and determined racer and we wish him every success in the future.”

Heidfeld said: “Obviously I’m disappointed to be leaving Lotus Renault GP in the middle of the season.

“I thought I could still make a big contribution to the team, but I have to see things as they are and I want to turn my attention to the future. We have taken the right decision by choosing to end our collaboration today.

“I would like to wish all the friends I made at Enstone a successful end to the season. One thing is for sure – I’ll be back racing at the highest level soon.”

Heidfeld joined the team at the start of the season to substitute for the injured Robert Kubica. Heidfeld was replaced by Bruno Senna at the Belgian Grand Prix.

Update: Renault have also announced Bruno Senna will continue to drive for them for the rest of the year

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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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80 comments on “Renault and Heidfeld formally split”

  1. He reckons he’ll be back? To be honest, I don’t know what team he could go to now, I don’t see anyone that would want him.

    1. Perhaps Team Lotus if Trulli is demoted to tester or similar… although they don’t need the experience with the two they have already… Maybe HRT…

      But I thought Nick wanted to drive at the front. Williams?

      1. Yeah, I agree, Williams and Lotus are his only chances.

        I don’t think he’ll get enough money to drive for HRT.

        1. What about Virgin? They could use an experienced driver to help develop their car.

      2. I can’t see Heidfeld going to HRT, and can’t see him at Lotus, as they have Trulli & Kovalainen. If Trulli was to be dropped or retire, I’d imagine them bringing in a young driver. And I can’t see him back at Williams, as they’re edging towards pay drivers, and Barrichello will probably stay another year. He’ll probably end up in DTM I think.

        1. I think if Trulli was going to leave we’d have heard it already this year.

          At some points early on he was visibly unhappy with the car, and not enjoying racing. However, that seems to have changed now.

    2. Well, DTM can be considered top level racing as well, can’t it?

      1. Yes, it’s definitely the top touring car series in the world, what with WTCC being rubbish.

  2. In other words Team Genii have coughed up some readies to Nick who has decided to cut’n’run instead of push it further!

  3. If this is the end of Heidfeld’s Formula One career, then I’m sorry to see him go out in this way.

    1. I feel the same. I’ve never been a huge fan of his, but this is just a crummy way to end a career.

  4. “One thing is for sure – I’ll be back racing at the highest level soon”

    Presumably he’s referring to F1? I can’t see that, unfortunately. I’d argue that he’s still good enough for a drive in a midfield team, but so many of his competitors for these seats bring money that it’ll be difficult for him to get a look in.

    1. Could join Barrichello at Williams? That would make sense

      1. If Williams were to employ Heidfeld, they’d get rid of Barrichello, and pair Nick up with someone who has some who has money on them (i.e. Maldonado).

        1. Why swap an expert driver for another expert driver?

      2. Perhaps Williams, but I feel your joining Barrichello quote is far of the mark. Williams are rumoured to be in financial difficulty so if a driver leaves Williams it will surely by Barrichello before Maldonado.

        1. The only problem there is, I can’t see Heidfeld bringing a significant performance boost and Rubens would drive for nothing if it meant he was in F1. I doubt Nick would match that.

      3. He might rather be joined by Rubens as being a former F1 driver next year.

        Williams has trouble paying Rubens a salary, no way can they afford to pay 2 drivers. Instead they will surely be looking to replace Rubens with a young driver showing some promise and a pot of cash to go with them.

        Its not as if either Rubens or Nick is going to achieve anything in a Williams that will be battling the back pack next year.

    2. If people argue that there is no space in F1 for people like Schumacher and Barrichello who have had varied but good success in the sport – then there is no space for Heidfeld. I feel that things could have gone very differently for him if he had won a race in 2008 (perhaps Canada).

  5. Recent rumblings make me feel the Barrichello-Williams relationship may or may not continue into 2012. If he goes then Heidfeld is surely a good replacement.
    As for the second driver, Maldonado may stay but if PDVSA’s cash isn’t tied to him remaining is it possible van der Garde could get a seat? Or perhaps Boullier would be willing to push Sir Frank some cash in return for Grosjean having a ride?

    1. “Recent rumblings make me feel the Barrichello-Williams relationship may or may not continue into 2012.”

      The alternative being?

  6. I wasn’t aware that DTM was considered top level

    1. Ya, he obviously meant NASCAR lol

      1. Actually DTM is quite high in terms of touring cars come to think of it. And certainly should be placed higher than NASCAR

        1. DTM (= 14 slow cars)is hardly considered top-level now. It’s entertainment value and the quality of the cars lags far behind Super-GT. DTM is to Formula 1 drivers as the Qatar Star League for football players. A place to pick up that last bag of cash when you’re far past your prime. A place to retire.

          1. Paul di Resta tells us differently.

          2. BasCB has batted that post out of the ballpark.

  7. IMHO I never really saw the top level skill from Nick. Back in the BMW days, he was never a challenge for his teammate. He had a little something for this much less experienced colleuge at Renault, but this is the least that should be expected. To me, NH never showed any unique quality that made him superior. Just an “also ran”.

    1. Back in the BMW days, he was never a challenge for his teammate.

      Then how do you explain his points tally against Kubica over their three-and-a-bit seasons together?

      1. Points don’t necessarily show the true story.

        1. It’s still fair to say that Heidfeld outperformed Kubica overall during their years as team-mates.

        2. They do, if points determine money… which they do.

          1. The points won’t tell you what happened during the race, who was lucky, who had a mechanical problem, who was stuck behind a slower driver, who had a great pace, who showed us some overtaking skills, who had a terrible pit stop etc.

            In F1 points alone won’t tell you who’s a better driver. It’s a complex sport and there are more variables, than just a man behind the wheel.

    2. That’s not true, he has almost always been just that little bit in front of his team mate (as he was in front of Petrov now).

      Only problem is, he was just a bit in front of them regardless if it was against Kimi, Kubica or a burnt out JV.

      1. So…Heidfeld to replace Webber at red bull? Maybe he could end up just a bit in front of Vettel… ;-)

        1. Would be funny to see that happening, wouldn’t it!

  8. NICK HEIDFELD….Another name for the history book of those who drove in Formula One.

    1. Yes, but that is such since his debut in the 2000 Australian GP ;)

  9. Chris Goldsmith
    2nd September 2011, 17:53

    I do feel bad for ‘Quick Nick’. Feel like all he really needed was a really good car under him and he could have elevated himself in the way that Button has managed over the past few years. Sadly the history of F1 is littered with drivers who have slogged their guts out and somehow managed never to achieve their full potential. He’s a nice guy and it doesn’t feel like this is the right way for him to have to exit the sport. Realistically though, it’s unlikely any other team is going to want him now.

    I said at the start of the season that I thought Senna should have been given Kubica’s car, rather than Heidfeld, on the basis that we had basically already seen what Heidfeld was likely to achieve – a solid, if unremarkable season, picking up points and making a reasonable contribution to the development and setup of the car. Even by those fairly low expectations it doesn’t sound like he really delivered an awful lot. Senna by contrast, despite being an unknown quantity, I saw as a driver who had the potential to deliver something surprising. Looks like he’s going to get that opportunity after all, and I’m really stoked for him. I can see Senna getting an electric reception at the Brazillian GP. While this is obviously a sad end to Heidfeld’s GP career, it might just be the start of a remarkable new one.

    1. I felt all along that Renault should have signed Heidfeld to partner Kubica in the first place. Then, when Kubica had his accident, Heidfeld would have naturally stepped up to team leader status as he would have already been fully integrated into the team. Then they could have brought Petrov in this season.

      After Massa and Raikkonen at Ferrari, and Hamilton and Button at McLaren; Kubica and Heidfeld at BMW had the most amiable and productive partnership in recent years.

  10. OmarR-Pepper (@)
    2nd September 2011, 17:57

    HRT needs some money Nick, despite that team is not exactly on the top level

  11. About how much money are we speaking when saying a driver is coming with a huge sponsor in his back into a team – I really cant figure it out that it has such an importance to the finances of a team.
    10 Millions? 50???

    1. I read somewhere that Jose Maria Lopez, the driver that never got to drive for USF1 had to bring 10 million dollars in order to get the seat. This might be a petty sum for bigshots like McLaren and Ferrari but for small teams every buck is important. Why do you think that along with the new teams so many pay drivers arrived in F1?

    2. Although the exact amount of money Venezuela brings Williams is not known, its in the range of 21-29 million year, dependant on the amount of coverage on the car.

      That is a really big deal. Otherwise its in the range of about 2-10 million mostly.

  12. Oh well. Too many hangers-on still.
    Hope Lotus find someone to replace Jarno Trulli, and Williams get rid of Rubens.
    (Not mentioning Schumi, I love Schumi)

    1. I read somewhere when he signed with williams that he was thought to be bringing $20 million to team and that their budget (before that) was around $80 million.

      I’m not sure how much truth there is to that though. I would definitely like to know more about the teams’ finances and what the pay drivers contribute.

      I haven’t even seen any articles in a very long time that tried to estimate team budgets.

  13. “He is a very strong and determined racer and we wish him every success in the future.”

    Future? Not in F1, Renault, you’ve sent him into retirement early.

    1. I think he’s being doing that to himself for a couple of years now.

  14. Kubica was right, Liuzzi was to choose over Heidfeld! He wouldn’t have let down!
    If Nick was capable of a podium, Liuzzi would now be a two-times winner, at least.

    1. Sarcasm fails over the Internet. P:

  15. Well, there is always Sauber, saviour of old unwanted F1 drivers :)
    But I think we have seen the last of Heifeld in F1, I cant see how he is going to comeback. The last season would have been his last if it weren’t for the accident of Kubica.
    I am sad for Kubica, when he comeback he will find Renault a long way from the team in 2010. That team seems to be going nowhere.

    1. Sauber seems to have a set line up now though. After giving both Heidfeld and De la Rosa chances, they seem quite happy with Kobayashi and Perez, which is a great, young lineup.

    2. Sauber saviour of unwanted F1 drivers? I always thought Sauber was the “spawning pool” of future F1 stars – Raikkonen, Kubica, Vettel, Kobayashi, Perez (maybe)…

      1. Yeah but there are also Heinz Herald Frentzen, Pedro Delarosa and Heifeld. All 3 of them had effectively finished their career when Sauber hired them.

  16. I really can’t see Heidfeld going anywhere apart from DTM, unless someone at (say) HRT or Lotus gets injured and another driver is needed on a one-off basis. Certainly the teams that have been mentioned so far are dependent on paying drivers, Williams being a case in point – should Rubens retire at the end of this year, they’ll be after a younger driver who can bring in some more sponsorship. Like Bruno Senna.

  17. Maybe he can take dambrosio’s seat at virgin, how is his contract situation?

  18. I’d like to see this guy retire from F1. Too many up and comers these days bringing a lot of sponsorship money to the table, not to mention driving talent.

    Not so sure it was Nick’s driving… The Renault started off the season very well with Petrov, but seemed to have fallen back. Shame Senna binned it in the first corner at Spa, could’ve had a very good finish indeed…

  19. Lucas "Mr. Veloce"
    2nd September 2011, 21:06

    Nick is so unlucky, he ought to get good seats like at the start of 2010, he was linked to drive alongside Nico Rosberg at Mercedes GP or alongside Kamui Kobayashi at Sauber but those seats were taken by two old goats who were already past it. I personally think Nick Heidfeld is one of the most under rated drivers in F1. I hope someone signs him.

    1. Agreed in full.

      I was really hoping to see him in the Mercedes. But Michael Schumacher trumps everyone.

  20. I always hate how teams get rid of drivers right before a big upgrade. Then, they put the new driver in a much more competitive car and blame the old drive who had suffered with slow car for most of the season. I mean, Heidfeld and Petrov weren’t getting past Q2 in qualifying for a while, and after the upgrade for Spa, both Senna and Petrov make it to Q3. Does that mean Senna is better than Heidfeld. NO! That means the upgrades worked.

    I wish Nick would have gotten the Mercedes drive last year instead of Schumacher. Schumacher’s return from retirement has been a waste of a decent F1 seat.

    1. It is indeed an annoying trend.

    2. Schumi’s performances haven’t been that good, but is still forever a big name. Heidfeld is a nobody in comparison, and isn’t exactly a Hamilton, Alonso or Vettel.

  21. “Recent rumblings make me feel the Barrichello-Williams relationship may or may not continue into 2012.”

    “The alternative being?“

    Well “If he goes then Heidfeld is surely a good replacement.“ Whilst unspectacular he usually delivers some good points and is experienced. Depends on Williams’ financial situation though as others have said, as they may want another young driver who can bring some funding..

    IF one driver leaves Williams at the end of the season, it seems more likely to me that it will be Barrichello than Maldonado..

  22. He’s just so dull

  23. This has been coming hasn’t it? With all respect, Heidfeild hasn’t done a great job this season, and while his drives from the back have been good, the fact is that he shouldn’t be starting there. He should also be well clear of Petrov.

    His experience and technical nous would make him an asset to one of the new teams, but I can now see him going to sports cars or DTM. Renault really was his last chance and it’s time to move on. While it’s a shame he’s never won, some things were never meant to be.

  24. Not sure whether Nick will ever come back in a high standard team but it’s good to see both him & Renault fixed things between then without too much noise.

  25. I won’t miss him if he doesn’t come back to f1.
    He’s had his chance @BMV, and now Renault, where he failed to impress, apart from his start in Malaysia.
    There are pilots i find interesting, lively (ex. Hamilton, KOB, Webber) and others that don’t spark the slightest hint of enthusiasm from me (Him , Sutil…)

    Maybe Renault wamt to have a real-life test of B. Senna, so that they can figure out what to do with R. Grosjean ?

  26. is very bad by lotus to ban the heidfeild becoise he is very good driver and experince in many f1 car since 2000. is because he is german reno removed it? and reno is france and they wanting french driver roman gorjean? is very very bad if it is they want to give prefrence on national basis. heidfild is even got a podium in sepang and rocket start to 2nd place even petrov is not so good compare with heidfiel. poor heidfiel is betrayed by reno & eric boiler.senna got seat only because of his name, he is no special & dont know how to develop car. reno car always catching fire & that too only in nick’s car. why? I think reno sabortaged the car of nick to get rid of nick. But nick is very decent person. cheap tactic from eric boiler. did he learn this trick from flavio briatorie? i always support reno from the days of benetton, but now i change my mind.nick heildfiel leaving reno is a loss to them. nick is a good driver and very consistent, he beat alesi,raikkonen,HH frentzen,webber,kubika in the past & was even beating petov. i think reno dont want german association so they dump him to hire roman gosjean. I will not support reno from today.

    1. What a pathetic comment…

      Is it because he’s german that they hired him in the first place ?
      And what do Mercedes do about national preferences, when you are so comcerned about your german driver ? Don’t they play the national card ?
      And you truly think they’ll put fire to their own car, just to get rid of the driver they hired ???

      1. What is so pathetic in my comment gwenoullie? is open fact that reno is preference french pilot. but no good french pilot is been borned since alan prost. roman gorjean is not so good & is no experince in car development.

        as for mercedes, one driver is 7 times champion & the other is a definete future champion.

        Yes I truly think heidfield car is not same specification as petrov. reno always do this even during benetton days. ask brundle,jos vestrappen, johnny herbert, trulli, fisichella, kovialailenen, piquet jr. but is not good eh? boooo

        1. On what ground can you say that Grosjean isn’t good ?
          Didn’t Petrov get a 2nd place too ?
          Do you really think that if Heidfeld was such a gem at car developping they’d fire him ?

          Enough for me…

  27. It’s a very complex situation, and as I feel it totally unfair from the personal and professional aspects delivered by Renault and especially Boullier, from managerial and financial aspects it does make sense.

    Bringing in some new upgrades for a GP? That’s fine. But who helped the engineers developing those parts? Not Senna with his friday drive in Hungary, not Petrov who had 2 fine races in a row in his whole career, not the injured Kubica. Must have been Heidfeld with his 10 seasons experience.

    Suffering in a car which was starting to be developed with Kubica last year? Tells a lot.

    Shining in a car which was starting to be developed with Alonso back in 2009? Tells a lot.

    Fishing in trooubled water at a rainy qualification? It’s not much more than Winkelhock was able to do back in 2007 leading the European GP. But at least Winkelhock didn’t ruined another guys race just 100 meters from the start.

    I have nothing against Senna, he was ignored for such a long time, and it’s natural that he wants drive finally, and I’m actually happy to see him racing again. The thing that I’m against is the way Boullier and the media make these happenings look like and explanations were kind of bullsh_t.

    I don’t really see where could he join next year, or even this year. I could see maybe Force India, that might lose Adrian Sutil to Williams, and if they don’t want to compete without an experienced driver, Nick could be the right choice alongside with either Hülkenberg or di Resta.

    I’m curious what’s next, and I’m furious how F1 drivers with no deep pocket treated…

  28. His case was somewhat pointless to begin with anyway. Let´s say he won the case and got his driving seat back… how do you think the team would treat him? I understand his bitterness but it made no sense to try and get his seat back through legal action.

    1. That’s exactly what I thought.

  29. Well I’m glad we don’t have to go through any legal wranglings, always gets tiring as a fan of the sport.

    I really don’t see what Renault’s justification was for this.

  30. But the Renault seems to be prone to legal wranglings lately :)
    I’ll just repeat myself from before, I don’t like the way Eric is managing the team. I’d fire him, bring in Sam Michael if possible. Renault should take a year off. Bring Toyota, Ford, Jaguar or even Peugot instead. :)

  31. Considering the Renault started the season strongly but went backwards since then, should Heidfeld take some of the blame for this? Maybe his input wasn’t good at all?

  32. Nick started F1 in 2000 – same time as Jenson Button. He has yet to win a race in his 10 years in F1 (not 11 years as he lost his seat in 2010). 10 years in F1 is a considerable amount of time and one would expect some decent results, but instead his team mates have always moved on and achieved better results – re: Webber, Kubica, Raikkonen & Massa – all of which have won races. Honestly it’s time for Nick to hang up his F1 ambitions and look at IndyCar or DTM – he’ll likely to get more success out of those categories than against the current crop in F1.

  33. As much as I think Nick is a fantastic driver, and deserves to be in F1 over all these pay-drivers, the only team I think he could go to in 2012 would be Williams, replacing Barrichello, that way Williams would still get the sponsorship money from Maldonado and have an experienced driver…remember that Williams are using Renault engines from next year – maybe this has something to do with Renault and Heidfeld’s settlement – that he drives “at the top level soon” with the Williams team! Well here’s hoping!

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