Bruno Senna will return to Formula 1 at this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix as the replacement for Nick Heidfeld at the Lotus Renault GP team.
Renault had decided over the summer break that it wanted to shake up its driver lineup, and hoped to move Senna into a race seat alongside Vitaly Petrov instead of Heidfeld. The matter was complicated, however, by the fact that Heidfeld was not willing to simply walk away from his deal at the team – especially because there seemed little reason to dismiss him on performance grounds as he was ahead of Petrov in the point standings.
Following intense discussions between representatives of both Renault and Heidfeld over the past 48 hours, however, an interim settlement was reached on Wednesday night, leaving the way open for Senna to be given the green light to race in Belgium.
A statement issued by the team said that it was only confirming Senna for this weekend's race at Spa, with the team's plans for the rest of the season expected to be announced on Thursday.
"Bruno will attend the official FIA press conference tomorrow. A press release with further details on the matter will be issued tomorrow morning," the statement read.
Senna's chances of keeping hold of the seat for the rest of the campaign will likely depend on his level of competitiveness, because Renault has made no secret of the fact that it is looking at handing GP2 Series leader Romain Grosjean another F1 chance. Speculation has already suggested that Grosjean could be drafted in at the team after the GP2 campaign finishes at Monza – which means he could do some of the final flyaway races this year.
Although Heidfeld is likely to have agreed to financial compensation for the severance of his contract, it will provide little consolation as there appear to be few opportunities for him to continue in F1 – which means his grand prix career could be at an end. The German was drafted in as replacement for the injured Robert Kubica on the eve of the campaign. But despite finishing on the podium in Malaysia, he failed to live up to Renault's expectations, and particularly struggled in qualifying.
Senna last raced in F1 at the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, during his final outing for HRT. He moved to Renault this year as test driver, and completed a Friday practice session for the team in Hungary.
· In the below video, Senna did a demonstration run at Spa-Francorchamps while holding a cellphone camera. He uploaded this to his YouTube page.