|© Lotus Renault GP
Nick Heidfeld has revealed that it was Lotus Renault GP which got in touch with the driver rather than the other way round in its search to replace the injured Robert Kubica this season.
The Enstone-based outfit ran the German during the Jerez test in order to evaluate his performance after it named him as a potential candidate for a replacement.
“I want to point out that the team contacted me, and not vice versa,” Heidfeld told Formula1.com. “I know that some drivers contacted the team.”
A number of names were thrown up to fill in for the Polish driver after he was ruled out for the season following a horrific crash in the Andorra rally. Pedro de la Rosa and Vitantonio Liuzzi are the other probable contenders for the seat.
“On Tuesday I was already visiting the team in Enstone and was speaking with Eric (Boullier – team principal) and the engineers - but no seat fitting then,” he continued. “The seat was done in Jerez in two nights because during the days Vitaly (Petrov) was driving. The first night - Thursday - we were working until 3am, and on Friday until 2am.
“On Wednesday I was heading home to get my license - as a Formula 1 license at that time was not very high on the agenda - and from one moment to the other it became a paramount issue.”
The 33-year-old has made a strong case for a likely drive this year after he topped the charts during the third day of the test at the Spanish circuit. The veteran, who drove in five Grands Prix for Sauber last season, however admitted that he has been in negotiations for his future in F1.
“We’ve been speaking with Mercedes GP for the same position as last year: test and reserve driver,” he said. “Sure, you start to think about other options. DTM was on my list - I thought that this could be something - but clearly F1 was always my priority.”