Formula 1 News

Senna in as dumped Heidfeld sues Renault

Two sides of the coin with the move. A very Happy Bruno talked to the press today, while the German's bitter departure might put an end to his F1 careers.
Thursday, August 25, 2011

Spa-francorchamps, Belgium, Aug 25, 2011 (AFP) - Bruno Senna, the 27-year-old nephew of the late Ayrton Senna, will make his racing debut for Renault at this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix - his first appearance in Formula One with a major team. 

Senna, previously the team's test and reserve driver, was promoted in a move that saw him oust experienced German Nick Heidfeld, a 34-year-old veteran of 183 Grands Prix and the outfit's lead driver and leading points-scorer this season.

Senna said his immediate future with Renault was guaranteed only for Belgium and the Italian Grand Prix at Monza next month.

Speaking at a news conference Senna added that he hoped, subject to the resolution of legal issues, to be in the car for the rest of the season.

The Brazilian said: "Right now I am confirmed to do this race and the next race, but there are some legal issues to be resolved. I cannot confirm if I am doing the rest of the year or not. The intention is I am going to do it, but it still cannot be confirmed."

As he spoke, the team were reconciled to an ongoing legal battle with journeyman German Heidfeld, dumped unceremoniously mid-season in favour of Senna, despite being the team's leading points-scorer.

Renault confirmed the legal dispute between them and Heidfeld was now expected to go to court to be settled.

Senna admitted that he faced a major struggle to reach a competitive level of speed this weekend after 10 months since his last Formula One race at the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

He said: "It is going to be a big challenge to come back into the middle of the season, a bit later than the middle of the season, to go racing.

"But I have been participating in all the meetings with the engineers, and am up-to-date with all that is going on at the team.

"Hungary was useful for me to know how the car could go, but it will be an uphill battle to get on the form of these other guys here who have been racing for 11 races now.

"But I am really looking forward to it, hoping to progress fast and repay the faith the team has given me. Friday was very tough in Hungary, when I did the practice session, and it was really difficult. Senna's appearance in Spa-Francorchamps signalled his first outing with a major F1 team after a season spent at the back of the field with the Hispania team last year.

Senna, previously the team's test and reserve driver, was promoted in a move that saw him oust experienced German Heidfeld, a veteran of 183 Grands Prix.

The switch of drivers was confirmed late on Wednesday by Renault after lengthy negotiations on a deal that may, effectively, bring an unexpected and premature end to Heidfeld's career in F1.

Many paddock insiders believe that the reason the team only confirmed Senna for a single race - at Belgium - is because they have yet to agree a full compensation package with the unhappy Heidfeld.

It has been reported that the team faced financial difficulties due to funding shortages that may be solved with the introduction of Senna, who brings a multi-million Euros package of sponsorships with him, as a 'pay driver'.

Heidfeld was a salaried driver. The team has denied it was in any financial trouble. Renault may also be interested in drafting in current GP2 series leader Frenchman Romain Grosjean if Senna fails to deliver competitive performances.

Senna has yet to score a point in his fledgling career. Heidfeld has scored 259 points and has the unfortunate record of being the man with most second place finishes - eight - who has yet to win a race.

The bearded Heidfeld also holds the record as the driver to deliver the most successive race finishes, 41, in a career that has seen him race for Prost, Sauber, Jordan, Williams and Renault.

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