• Kubica injury

Senna, Heidfeld and Liuzzi on Renault shortlist

ESPNF1 Staff
February 9, 2011 « Robert Kubica faces more operations | »

Renault have named three drivers who are under consideration to replace Robert Kubica, and the absence of Kimi Raikkonen appears to end intense speculation he might be tempted back to Formula One.

Raikkonen has not made any comment, but Renault boss Eric Boullier told reporters outside the Santa Corona Hospital that "the names considered are [Bruno] Senna, [Tonio] Liuzzi and [Nick] Heidfeld".

"The team is close to Robert, we wait for him with open arms," Boullier said. "It was Robert's choice, he wanted to go rallying at all costs and Renault authorised it. Now we just wait to know what the recovery time is for our driver."

"If Robert's recovery will be long and he will not return this season, we will rely on a driver with experience," chairman Gerard Lopes added. "The fate of our season will depend on the new driver. Of course, we must see what happens with the tests we're going to do. Without Robert it's difficult to predict. Obviously, we'll bet on a runner capable of winning the championship."

Senna is already signed to Renault as a reserve driver, while Heidfeld is out of contract after being released by Sauber at the end of last season. Liuzzi had a contract to drive for Force India in 2011 but was nevertheless replaced by Paul di Resta and so has to be considered a free agent.

With the second of four testing sessions starting in Jerez on Thursday, Boullier needs to make an appointment in the next few days if Kubica's replacement is to get fully adjusted to the car in time for the season opener in Bahrain on March 13.

Boullier's comments also appear to rule out Nico Hulkenberg, who was controversially released by Williams at the end of last year. Although he is contracted to Force India as a test driver, it had been rumoured he may have been able to exercise an escape clause if Renault approached him.