SHANGHAI, April 14, 2011 (AFP) - Nick Heidfeld has dedicated his podium finish in last weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix to Renault's Robert Kubica, who is still recovering from a serious accident on the eve of the 2011 season.
Poland's Kubica was competing in a rally in Italy in February when he suffered multiple arm injuries in a crash and Heidfeld was drafted in as his replacement at the Anglo-French team to partner Russian Vitaly Petrov.
The vastly-experienced German finished third in Malaysia last Sunday, and on the eve of this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix, used his website to write an open letter to his injured teammate. "This third place is also yours. During the race I had often been thinking
of you. Crossing the finish line, happiness totally flooded my head," Heidfeld wrote.
"I know what you are thinking right now: 'Lotus-Renault has built such a wonderful car this year. I want to get back as soon as possible and drive it!' You can do it. I wish you all the best for your rehabilitation."
Heidfeld said he had Kubica's logo printed on the front of his helmet and the Polish flag on the side to show he was still part of the team.
Heidfeld and Kubica were teammates at BMW-Sauber for four seasons between 2006-09, but Heidfeld looked to be without a drive for this season until Renault offered the 33-year-old a caretaker role until Kubica is deemed fit to
His podium in Malaysia was his 13th in Formula One, a record among drivers who have not won a Grand Prix.
Malaysia was the second consecutive race that a Renault featured on the podium, after Petrov took his maiden top-three finish in Australia a fortnight earlier.
The 26-year-old Russian, in his second season, looked set for another strong points finish in Malaysia before a spectacular late-race accident saw his car become airborne after he ran off the circuit and attempted to rejoin over a drainage kerb.
The impact as his car landed broke the steering column, forcing him to retire, and Petrov will revert to the chassis he used in Melbourne this weekend in Shanghai. He admitted he was fortunate not to crash more heavily in Malaysia. "I was lucky because my car continued to go straight rather than left or right. Otherwise, you can imagine if the car goes to the right I would have
crashed two times harder. So I think I was a little lucky," he said.