Kimi wants in at Renault and Heidfeld officially back at Sauber

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It’s today’s tale of two drivers.

First, the rumor, well, confirmed rumor: Kimi Raikkonen is trying to secure the second drive at Renault for next year. The good folk at Autosport have the news:

Sources have revealed that in the wake of Renault’s impressive form at the Belgian Grand Prix, Raikkonen approached the French car manufacturer with the intent of putting a deal together.

It is not clear, however, whether Raikkonen spoke to Renault himself or if it was done through his management team.

Raikkonen has always insisted that he would only come back to F1 if he was in a competitive car – and that is something that Renault now appears to be able to offer him.

But despite Raikkonen’s credentials, Renault is in no rush to advance talks with him – and it is still holding on for current driver Vitaly Petrov to prove he can deliver what the team is demanding of him.

Renault team principal Eric Boullier confirmed that Raikkonen had approached the team – and is in contention for a seat alongside Robert Kubica in 2011.

“It is true that the summer has passed and we have had more and more requests – and the guy you mentioned [Raikkonen] is on the radar now,” Boullier told AUTOSPORT.

“He is on the radar because he contacted us.”

According to the Autosport story, it isn’t a slam dunk. Current driver Vitaly Petrov isn’t doing too badly, but even more importantly he opens doors in Russia for sponsorship and other opportunities.

Ladies and gentlemen, there you have your conundrum of the day. A proven winner in Kimi, with a whole list of baggage, over a guy who is showing promise and opens the way to a vast, untapped market.

That is why Bouiller is paid the big bucks.

What the Autosport story fails to mention is that Kimi’s progress in World Rally Championship racing isn’t exactly … well… it’s Petrovian. He sits in 10th in the standings and crashed out this past weekend at the Rally of Japan, failing to score any points. Just a coincidence that this news is coming right after that? I doubt it.

In official news, yesterday’s rumors about Nick Heidfeld replacing the poorly performing Pedro de la Rosa at Sauber are no longer rumors. He will run the last five races for his old team. Here is the Sauber release:

Nick Heidfeld replaces Pedro de la Rosa

Hinwil, 14th September 2010 – Sauber Motorsport announces a driver change: From the Singapore Grand Prix, 23rd to 26th of September 2010, until the end of the season Nick Heidfeld will be driving the second C29 alongside Japan’s Kamui Kobayashi. Thirty three-year-old Heidfeld from Germany replaces Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa (39). The team’s contract with Nick Heidfeld comes into effect on Friday, 17th September.

Team Principal Peter Sauber said: “It was a hard decision for me to make as a Team Principal and I want to thank Pedro for his professionalism. By signing Nick we have a driver we know extremely well who will help us to further judge the comparative potential of our car.”

Pedro de la Rosa: “I am surprised by the team´s decision, but I respect it and would like to wish everyone good luck for the remainder of the season. I still intend to be in Formula One for 2011.”

Nick Heidfeld: “I’m looking forward like crazy to having the opportunity to go racing again in a good car in Formula One from the Singapore Grand Prix onwards. After the last months I’m even more motivated than ever. For me it is like coming home, as I raced for seven years in total for the team from Hinwil. Without doubt I will be feeling at home straight away and this should help me to familiarise myself as soon as possible with the car. I want to thank Peter Sauber for the faith he has put in me.”

Nice of the team to let Pedro have a quote in the release. So far, the team seems to be handling this very professionally. And Pedro is showing himself to be a professional, albeit maybe not one who should be driving on race Sundays in Formula 1.

No word on 2011 for Nick. We all know he was doing testing for next year’s tire maker, Pirelli, so that “experience” could be useful. According to the BBC, Nick’s cleared his arrangement with the Italian tire company, so he’s up for anything.

So… two big names. What do you think? Is Kimi the way to go for Renault and is Nick just a quick fix for Sauber or should the team keep him in 2011?

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