Nick Heidfeld's future with the Lotus Renault GP team is in doubt, amid speculation that the outfit is looking at slotting in Bruno Senna from this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix.
Amid a campaign that has not lived up to preseason expectations, and with the team having admitted that it expected more from Heidfeld, it is believed that moves have been under way over the last few days to shake up the driver lineup. Although Renault declined to comment on the Heidfeld/Senna situation when contacted on Monday night, it is understood that the team has actively been looking at promoting Senna to a race seat from this weekend's event at Spa-Francorchamps, having given him a Friday run in Hungary.
TV pundit Eddie Jordan, who has close links to Heidfeld after he drove for his team in F1, reported on Monday night that the deal was in place for Senna to take Heidfeld's seat for the remainder of the season. However, AUTOSPORT reports that the plans are complicated by the fact that Heidfeld is not willing to simply walk away. The German is aware that there are few opportunities elsewhere for him in F1 if he leaves Renault now.
Heidfeld will also know that the Belgian GP gives him a good chance of delivering the kind of result that he and the team have been looking for, with new aerodynamic updates set to be introduced. He said after the Hungarian GP that the Belgian package was a key one for the season.
"I feel it finally has to work because we have been saying for some races now that we understand the problem, and that we have moved forward," he said. "This will be the first time that we really have something big."
It is not clear if Heidfeld's contract with the team gives it the option to drop him at this point of the campaign – especially as he is currently eighth in the drivers' championship with 34 points, one place and two points ahead of his teammate Vitaly Petrov. It is understood that negotiations are ongoing between Heidfeld and Renault about the situation, with the matter possibly only being resolved on the eve of the Belgian event itself.
Heidfeld was drafted in to Renault shortly before the start of the season as replacement for the injured Robert Kubica, and he delivered a podium finish as early as the second race in Malaysia. However, he has not stamped his authority on the team as much as it had hoped and, although his form in the races has been good, he has often struggled to deliver speed in qualifying.
Speaking about Heidfeld's form earlier this year, Renault boss Eric Boullier said: "Let's say good, but not good enough. Sunday is OK. Sunday's pace is good, it is very good, but obviously the higher we qualify on the grid, the better the chance we have to score more points."