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Page last updated at 20:03 GMT, Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Nick Heidfeld replaces Robert Kubica at Renault

Nick Heidfeld with Robert Kubica
Heidfeld (left) was Kubica's team-mate at BMW Sauber from 2006 to 2009

Nick Heidfeld will drive for Renault for the foreseeable future after it was announced that the German is to replace the injured Robert Kubica.

Pole Kubica suffered multiple fractures and a partially severed right hand in a rally crash earlier this month.

Kubica had a further eight hours of surgery on Wednesday and will be in intensive care for a few more days.

Heidfeld, who impressed in a test in Jerez, said: "I'm motivated and can't wait for the season to begin."

The announcement comes as no great surprise after the 33-year-old set the fastest time on Saturday.

Heidfeld was Kubica's team-mate at BMW Sauber for three-and-a-half years from 2006 to 2009 and is a highly experienced driver, having started 172 Formula 1 races over the last 11 seasons.

"I would have liked to come back to Formula 1 in different circumstances, but I'm proud to have been given this chance," added Heidfeld.

I have a good feeling for the car, which is quite innovative

Nick Heidfeld

"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 [the Renault factory 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."

Heidfeld will test again at the four-day session which starts on Friday at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya, driving the car on Saturday and Monday.

Renault team principal Eric Boullier said the former Sauber, Jordan and Williams driver was the "ideal man for the job".

"The team has been through a very difficult couple of weeks and we had to react quickly," said Boullier.

"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.

"We are pleased to welcome Nick to the team and look forward to a strong start to the season with him and Vitaly [Petrov] in Bahrain [next month]."

Kubica is expected to miss the entire 2011 season, although he told Gazzetta dello Sport on Friday that he was aiming to return to F1 before the end of the year.

The 26-year-old has undergone 24 hours of surgery since crashing his Skoda Fabia into a church wall in the Ronde di Andora rally on 7 February and the latest operation was to repair a complex fracture to his elbow.

Surgeons reconstructed the damaged fragments of his joint structure in Wednesday's surgery.

In a statement, Renault said: "At the end of the surgery the doctors were pleased with the outcome, with the procedure being completed successfully."

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see also
Kubica recovering after final op
18 Feb 11 |  Formula 1
Heidfeld heads Alonso to top test
12 Feb 11 |  Formula 1
Kubica targets return this season
11 Feb 11 |  Formula 1
Three in frame to replace Kubica
08 Feb 11 |  Formula 1
Kubica requires further surgery
08 Feb 11 |  Formula 1
Can Kubica make a successful return?
07 Feb 11 |  Formula 1
Kubica career at risk after crash
07 Feb 11 |  Formula 1

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Yahoo! UK and Ireland Eurosport Webber: Schumacher test pace 'just a little show for Germany' - 54 hrs ago Should Robert Kubica Quit WRC Rallies? - 15 Feb 2011
The Independent Kubica remains in intensive care - 15 Feb 2011
Planet F1 Senna: Renault need experienced driver - 15 Feb 2011 Sebastian Vettel confirms craving to drive for Ferrari in the future - 15 Feb 2011


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