The sidelining of Robert Kubica left big shoes to fill at the Lotus Renault GP team. After the Polish driver crashed out in a pre-season rally, the team was left scrambling to find a replacement. But rather than dip into its own considerable reserve of back-up drivers, the higher-ups opted to bring in Nick Heidfeld to fill Kubica's seat.
The eleven-season F1 veteran performed admirably in a pinch for Renault, most notably scoring a podium finish in Malaysia. But that didn't keep the team from replacing him for last week's Belgian Grand Prix, promoting their test driver and former HRT pilot Bruno Senna to his place.
The move lead to much speculation over what would unfold for the rest of the season, but Renault has now put that to rest by announcing that Senna will be driving the remaining seven rounds left in the season and that Heidfeld – who had (quite understandably) expressed some measure of dissatisfaction with having been shown the door – is departing the team.
It's a big leg-up for Senna and a ballsy move for Renault, but undoubtedly disappointing for Heidfeld. For his part, the German driver (who's spent the bulk of his career at Sauber) pledges to be back next season. Meanwhile Senna's previous role as test driver will be taken up once again by Romain Grosjean, the Franco-Swiss driver who took Nelsinho Piquet's place at the team in the wake of the Crashgate scandal in 2009 and who just claimed the title in the GP2 series.