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GP Week : Issue 131
F1 NEWS >> ONE of the biggest stories in the run up to the Belgian Grand Prix weekend was the confirmation that Nick Heidfeld had been dropped by Renault, with the German driver replaced by Bruno Senna. In an exclusive interview with the Formula1.com website, Renault team principal Eric Boullier explained the thinking behind the deal. A key factor, Boullier said, was that Heidfeld hadn’t been able to develop the necessary leadership skills to fill Robert Kubica’s fire- proof racing boots. “I would not say that [Heidfeld] hasn’t got qualities – he unfortunately couldn’t develop them, mainly because he’s been outperformed and out-qualified by Vitaly [Petrov] and that didn’t help him develop these qualities,” Boullier said. “I respect his pace and his experience, but in the end as a team principal I had to see the bigger picture with the team. Our team didn’t develop properly – there is a technical reason but also some other reasons within the team – so as a consequence of this I had to shake up my driver line-up. ... [Nick] didn’t get the car fast enough, so it didn’t work for us.” Despite his general disappointment in Heidfeld’s performance, Boullier told Formula1.com that he has no regrets about his earlier choice of driver. “No regret at all,” he said. “It was an experience that didn’t work out. “I understand that Vitaly is more comfortable and has clearly stepped up a notch. What I can say is that we – and I clearly say weasateamandnothim–have missed some opportunities with Nick, and that didn’t help to create a positive loop to get him back on track.” The decision to replace Heidfeld with Senna was a simple one, and based on Renault’s driver line-up, Boullier explained. But despite the mid-season driver change, the team’s 2012 line-up is still a work in progress. “Bruno was our third driver and we’ve tested him several times,” he said. “His dedication is really good and he is a nice character. And first thing you do if you change your driver line-up unexpectedly is to lean back on your third driver. “2012 is next season, so we will see. We have to consider many scenarios. Robert Kubica obviously is our number-one scenario; Romain Grosjean is doing a good job; and let’s wait and see what Bruno is doing and delivering for the next eight races,” Boullier concluded. Boullier explains Heidfeld sacking 9