Renault gave Nick Heidfeld's stalled Formula One career a jump start yesterday by calling up the German as a possible replacement for injured Polish driver Robert Kubica.
The team said in a statement that Heidfeld, who was Kubica's team-mate at BMW-Sauber for the best part of four years, would join Russian race regular Vitaly Petrov and Brazilian Bruno Senna at the second pre-season test in Jerez, Spain, this week.
Kubica is in hospital in Italy after suffering serious arm, leg and hand injuries while competing in a minor rally near Genoa last Sunday. He will be out for several months and could miss the entire season.
Senna, nephew of the late triple champion Ayrton, is the official reserve driver but lacks Heidfeld's experience.
"Vitaly will drive the R31 on Thursday and Friday, as originally scheduled," said the Lotus-backed team, who also have Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi on their three-man list of possible stand-ins. "For Saturday and Sunday, the team will give mileage to Bruno Senna and will also evaluate Nick Heidfeld."
Heidfeld has never won a race in his 172 starts. Only one driver in Formula One history, Italian Andrea De Cesaris, has started more without standing on the top of the podium. However the 33-year-old does have eight second places to his name and four third places in a career that started with Prost Peugeot in 2000.