Heidfeld makes way for Senna at Renault
By Phill Catterick
Thursday 08 Sep 2011 19:06:00
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Renault has announced that Bruno Senna will race for them for the remainder of the season after an out of court settlement was agreed with former driver Nick Heidfeld.

Bruno, nephew of three times World Champion Ayrton, was controversially chosen ahead of Heidfeld for the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa, sparking rumours that the team were struggling financially.

As a result Heidfeld opened a legal battle with the team, suggesting they were in breach of contract. He refused to answer questions in great detail last time out, but it appears a High Court judgment has determined that the team were within their rights to oust the German.

Heidfeld, widely regarded as one of the best drivers to never win a Grand Prix, is now rumoured to become one of the drivers that BMW will employ for next season's DTM campaign. Andy Priaulx is reportedly being lined up to join him for their very first year in the series.

With Heidfeld now removed from the Renault team completely, Senna now has the chance to display his talents until the end of 2011, although many commentators and pundits are arguing that finance only is the reason why he has inherited the drive. He wasn't chosen as a race driver back in March which has given the financial argument extra gravitas.

Renault and Senna deny these suggestions saying that pure talent and roar pace alone is the only reason why he was chosen ahead of Heidfeld.  If this is true it would beg the question why he wasn't on the grid in Melbourne nearly six months ago for the start of the season.

He will partner Russian Vitaly Petrov, who was infact behind Heidfeld in the World Championship standings prior to the Belgian Grand Prix, meaning that the Renault Lotus driver partnership is now the most inexperienced on the grid.

Heidfeld told BBC Sport that he was 'disappointed to be leaving in the middle of the season,' which is understandable considering the fact he felt he was contracted for the entire year while Robert Kubica recovers from a rally accident.

When the Polish driver returns it will be interesting to see which of the two current drivers vacates their seat, as the former BMW Sauber driver is due to return in 2012.

Renault team Principal Eric Boullier also told the BBC: "He (Heidfeld) is a very strong and determined racer and we wish him every success in the future.

"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 made to the team.

"We certainly had good times together, in particular remembering our podium finish in Malaysia."

Senna's first race in nearly 11 months resulted in him finishing behind Petrov in 13th place, despite qualifying in an impressive 7th. He braked too late going into La Source hairpin on the first lap ultimately resulting in his front wing being removed, and from there on in he was always playing catch up as his rivals roared off into the distance.

The Brazilian is currently preparing for Friday practice at Monza, a venue where his uncle won twice for Mclaren in 1990 and 1992 respectively. Just a points finish in his second race for Renault would put just as big a smile on his face as the tifosi welcome last year's winner Fernando Alonso to their home turf.

 



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