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Motor Racing

Nick Heidfeld replaces the injured Robert Kubica

Nick Heidfeld is to replace the injured Robert Kubica at Renault for the foreseeable future.

Kubica is potentially out for the entire forthcoming Formula One season after undergoing a series of operations at the Santa Corona hospital in Pietra Ligure, following the serious injuries he suffered in an accident in the Ronde di Andora rally 10 days ago.

Renault have moved quickly to secure his replacement in the highly-experienced Heidfeld, who partnered Kubica at BMW Sauber for three and half years from 2006-09.

Heidfeld impressed in testing for Renault last week in Jerez, with the German topping the timesheets on the third of the four days.

Although it is understood Kubica would have preferred close friend Vitantonio Liuzzi to replace him, Renault have opted for Heidfeld, who has 172 race starts over an 11-year career in F1.

Heidfeld, 33, said: "I would have liked to come back to Formula One in different circumstances, but I'm proud to have been given this chance.

"Everything has happened so quickly, but I've been very impressed by what I have seen so far in terms of the facilities and the dedication of the people at Enstone.

"I really enjoyed the test last week in Jerez and I've already settled in well with the guys at the track.

"I have a good feeling for the car, which is quite innovative. I'm extremely motivated and can't wait for the season to begin."

Heidfeld will test again at the four-day session which starts on Friday at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya, driving the car on Saturday and Monday.

Explaining the reasoning behind selecting Heidfeld, who began in F1 at Prost before moving onto Sauber, Jordan, Williams and then back to Sauber in 2006 when they were backed by BMW power, team principal Eric Boullier felt it was a straightforward decision.

"The team has been through a very difficult couple of weeks and we had to react quickly," Boullier said.

"We gave Nick a chance in Jerez last week and he really impressed us.

"He's quick, experienced and is very strong technically with his feedback and understanding of the car.

"We always said the priority was to have an experienced driver in the car and we feel he is the ideal man for the job.

"We are pleased to welcome Nick to the team and look forward to a strong start to the season with him and Vitaly (Petrov) in Bahrain (next month)."