Already the favourite to replace the injured Robert Kubica at Lotus Renault GP, Nick Heidfeld strengthened his case by topping the time sheets on Day 3 of testing at Jerez, Spain. It was an impressive showing by the veteran German driver considering that it was his first taste of the R31 and his first time back in an F1 car since November last year. He is justifiably happy with the outcome.

“I’m pleased with the job I did, very pleased. I don’t think I could have done any better, and I didn’t do any mistakes,” said Heidfeld, who was Kubica’s teammate at BMW Sauber.

“We already started today to try and improve the car, find directions, where the problems are, where the strengths are. I’m obviously trying to do the best job today so I can drive in the future, but I’m also just using it as a normal test and trying to develop the car,” he told hacks at the track.

“The car is already very different to how it was this morning, suiting my driving style a lot more. It is still not ideal – I hope there is more to come from the feeling I have – but it’s a good base,” added Quick Nick.

“Today we had the chance to give Nick time in the car and we carried out a big evaluation. Our first feelings are very positive: he worked well with the team, gave good feedback and improved the car during the day. We managed to cover 86 laps and the times are encouraging, which is also thanks to Robert and Vitaly’s early feedback and the hard work of everybody in the team,” praised team boss Eric Boullier.