In motor racing much depends on being in the right place at the right time, and for a while Nick Heidfeld got everything just right. Last September he was the obvious candidate when Peter Sauber decided that Pedro de la Rosa wasn't doing a good enough job. Then in February he was the man Renault called soon after Robert Kubica was ruled out of the 2011 season.
But what goes around comes around, and in August it was Heidfeld's turn to be on the wrong end of a management decision when Renault promoted Bruno Senna for the Belgian Grand Prix. The team claimed it was just down to performance on and off the track - any subsequent commercial advantage related to taking the Brazilian on board was a happy coincidence.
In reality Heidfeld's sudden departure went largely unremarked. Senna is a very popular guy, and no one can deny that his presence is good for F1. The consensus was that he deserved an opportunity. And it was hard to deny that Vitaly Petrov had enjoyed the upper hand over Heidfeld in qualifying.
Nevertheless, at the time of the change Heidfeld had scored two more points than the Russian, which was respectable. And in the six races since, Petrov has only been able to add four more to his personal tally, moving two points ahead of Heidfeld's score. So perhaps he didn't do such a bad job after all.
To continue reading this feature, join Autosport Plus today.
Are you an Autosport magazine subscriber? Activate your online account
- Your Autosport Plus membership includes:
- Unlimited access to Autosport's news - no monthly cap.
- Read the best motorsport features, analysis and opinion.
- Explore Forix, our comprehensive motorsport stats database.
- Choose from a monthly or yearly membership.