Nick Heidfeld stands in for Robert Kubica at Lotus Renault F1

Group Lotus-backed Renault have confirmed Nick Heidfeld will take the Formula One seat of recovering Robert Kubica this season.

The 33-year-old German will take over lead driver duties from this week's third pre-season test in Barcelona, which starts on Friday, after impressing during testing in Jerez alongside new team-mate Vitaly Petrov.

Heidfeld, who will be one of the most experienced drivers on the F1 grid in the coming season, steps in for Kubica after the Pole suffered a horrendous rally accident earlier this month that left him with multiple injuries and an absence from F1 likely to last for most of the season.

Renault team principal Eric Boullier said: 'The team has been through a very difficult couple of weeks and we had to react quickly. We gave Nick a chance in Jerez last week and he really impressed us.

'He's quick, experienced and is very strong technically with his feedback and understanding of the car.


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'We always said the priority was to have an experienced driver in the car and we feel he is the ideal man for the job.

'We are pleased to welcome Nick to the team and look forward to a strong start to the season with him and Vitaly in Bahrain.'

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Heidfeld, who has started 172 races over 11 seasons but is yet to win a race, added: 'I would have liked to come back to Formula One in different circumstances, but I'm proud to have been given this chance.

'Everything has happened so quickly, but I've been very impressed by what I have seen so far in terms of the facilities and the dedication of the people at Enstone.

'I really enjoyed the test last week in Jerez and I've already settled in well with the guys at the track. I have a good feeling for the car, which is quite innovative. I'm extremely motivated and can't wait for the season to begin.'

Heidfeld tested for new F1 tyre supplier Pirelli during last season after being left without a full-time drive, despite a short spell at Sauber.

He will have the new R31 to himself on Saturday and Monday in Barcelona, after pipping a clutch of drivers and reserve Bruno Senna to be Kubica's stand in.

The new Formula One season starts in Bahrain on March 13.

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