Who will replace Kubica in 2011?

While we wish Robert Kubica all the very best in his recovery from the horrific accident he suffered at the weekend, the F1 season is almost upon us and there is the small matter of who is going to step into his seat at Lotus Renault to think of.

There are a host of names in the frame, with quite a few drivers surely eyeing up the chance to get into what should be quite a competitive car come the first race on 13 March. Renault principal Eric Boullier has named who is in contention at the moment.
First up is Bruno Senna, 27, who has the advantage of already being contracted to the Renault team – he signed as a reserve driver at the end of January and was unveiled at the same time as the 2011 car.

The Brazilian nephew of legend Ayrton Senna has the best part of a year's racing in the sport under his belt, having spent last year at Hispania. He competed in 18 of the 19 Grands Prix in 2010, but failed to score a single point and enjoyed a season high finish of 14th at the Korean GP.

This less-than glamorous record is perhaps the reason why Boullier is also looking at a couple of other drivers. The second of which is the Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi, who is without a drive after losing his Force India seat to young Brit Paul di Resta.

Liuzzi, 29, has raced for both Toro Rosso and Force India, and made his debut for the latter team in 2009 when Giancarlo Fisichella left mid season to replace the injured Felipe Massa at Ferrari. He was more successful than Senna last season, scoring 21 points and finishing as high as sixth at the Korean race.

The third name Boullier has mentioned is that of German driver Nick Heidfeld. Heidfeld has enjoyed more success in F1 than Senna and Liuzzi, finishing as high as fifth in the championship in 2007 for BMW Sauber, but he has yet to win a race.

He spent the first half of last year as a Mercedes test driver, but then rejoined Sauber and scored points in both Japan and Korea, finishing eighth and ninth respectively. Of all the current drivers, he has started the most Grands Prix without enjoying a race win.

But while these three appear to be front runners, other names have naturally been tossed around. The 2007 F1 world champion Kimi Raikkonen, 31, has apparently been given the go ahead from his Citroen WRC boss Oliver Quesnel should he get the call and fancy a return, but this would require the Finnish driver to give up his rallying career, which he shows no sign of doing so far.

Former driver Mark Blundell has thrown another name into the hat – that of Pedro de la Rosa. Blundell told his Twitter followers that: "Pedro is a team player and has several years of McLaren experience as well for Renault to tap into and I would put him on race by race deal."

He reckoned that de la Rosa's experience with the new Pirelli tyres would be crucial, saying: "2 young guns in the Renault is high risk when developing new tyre and car combo, if car is off pace no depth to lead team forward, just my view."

Who else do you reckon Lotus Renault should consider? Should they follow Mercedes' lead and tempt back a former champion? Jacques Villeneuve was close to a return with the ill-fated Stefan Grand Prix team in 2009, and has kept his racing eye in by competing in the NASCAR series in America (albeit not very successfully...)

We're unlikely to see another British driver on the grid though – Anthony Davidson, 31, has already ruled himself out sadly, recommitting himself to his Peugeot Le Mans drive. And a certain Mr Ben Collins is still looking for a full-time job, but we reckon this might be a little too beyond the former Stig's capabilities.
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