Nick Heidfeld, Vitantonio Liuzzi, and Bruno Senna are set to fight it out for the race seat of Polish driver Robert Kubica at Renault following his crash driving between rally stages.
Renault have said that the injuries sustained by the 26 year old, which include fractures to his arms and hands, are likely to keep him out for at least two months however doctors have said that it could take the Pole up to a year to fully recover from the injuries he sustained on Sunday.
All three drivers took part in last season’s Formula One calendar. Heidfeld drove for Kubica’s old team Sauber last season while Liuzzi was in the driver’s seat at Force India. Senna raced for much of the year for Hispania while briefly losing his seat part way through the campaign.
It is thought that the 33 year old Heidfeld had talks with the team on Tuesday, and the German might feel that this is his last chance to secure a drive in Formula One. The veteran driver has taken part in 174 races since his debut in 2000 and has amassed 225 points racing for Prost, Sauber (twice), Jordan, and Williams. His experience has seen him win 12 podium finishes, but never as the winner, and he holds the record for the most experienced Formula One driver never to win a race.
Liuzzi, four years Heidfeld’s junior, has been involved with Formula One since 2005 and has driven for Red Bull, Torro Rosso, and Force India for whom he has collectively driven 63 times, winning 26 points, however 21 of those came last season.
Senna, the nephew of the late three times Formula One World Champion Ayrton, has just one season of driving experience at the very highest level. That came last season as the 27 year old raced 18 times for Formula One debut team Hispania, however he was unable to win a single point and was replaced for the British Grand Prix by Sakon Yamamoto.
If Renault were to go for experience to race alongside Vitaly Petrov, in just his second season, they would choose Heidfeld or, if they feel his star is fading, Liuzzi. However, the team could instead choose to go for Senna if they feel that he could improve and fight for a place with Petrov, or possibly even Kubica, once the Pole returns. This second option would require either Petrov or Senna to assume the role of number one driver however, something which neither of them have any experience of doing.
Whoever replaces the injured Kubica, they will find it tough to fill his position as lead driver. Since his debut in 2006 he has taken part in 76 races, winning 273 points, one race victory, and 11 other podium finishes, during this time. He former BMW Sauber driver was also in contention for the 2008 Driver’s Championship for much of the season before eventually finishing fourth on 75 point.