With lead driver Robert Kubica possibly out for the entire 2011 F1 season after his serious rallying accident, Lotus Renault GP is expected to overlook its bench of reserve drivers and seek a more experienced driver to lead the line. As we’ve speculated earlier, vastly experienced German driver Nick Heidfeld has emerged as a favourite to take over the race seat and will test for the team this week.

Reports say that Heidfeld has been in talks with Lotus Renault over the last two days and will test the R31 at Jerez. Vitaly Petrov will test today and tomorrow at the Spanish circuit, with Bruno Senna and Heidfeld taking over duties over the weekend. This can be considered a shootout between the former Sauber man and third driver Senna, who last year raced with HRT.

“Should Robert be out for the entire season, then it will normally be a more experienced driver to do the entire season, to develop the car, and everything else,” team owner Gerard Lopez told IVG.it.

“There are drivers who have had good races, for example Nick Heidfeld. We all know that Nick is rather good, but we don’t know what level he is in now, we don’t know how he does with our car. Same goes for Vitantonio Liuzzi, same goes – I don’t know – for Bruno Senna, who last year was in a team with a car that could do nothing,” he added.

As to Kubica’s condition, it’s not as bad as first feared. “The phase of the final surgery operations is beginning: the double operation to foot and shoulder is planned for Friday morning, while the course of surgeries will end next week. The driver’s right hand has completely stabilised. Now the delicate recovery of the functionalities begins,” explained Giorgio Barabino, Head of ICU at the Santa Corona Hospital.