Former team boss Eddie Jordan has gone on the record with his belief that the Renault team management is guilty of “bullying” stand-in driver Nick Heidfeld.
The Irishman, who is now a pundit for the BBC’s F1 coverage, has referred to the continued criticism of Heidfeld’s performance during the season while he substitutes for the injured Robert Kubica.
Despite their respective podium finishes at the start of the season, neither Heidfeld nor team-mate Vitaly Petrov have come close to replicating the feat in subsequent rounds as the development of the radical R31 seemed to have stalled.
The pair lie eighth and ninth respectively in the current championship standings, with Heidfeld on 34 points and Petrov on 32.
Renault team boss Eric Boullier and team owner Gerard Lopez have praised the performance of Petrov, recently describing his pace as being close to what Kubica would have achieved were he not sidelined with his injury.
Yet Heidfeld has run at a pace similar to Petrov, so would that not, there, infer that the 34-year-old is performing well in what is clearly a difficult car?
But this hasn’t stopped team management from being unrelenting in their criticism of the German veteran, sparking rumours that Renault test driver Bruno Senna or Gravity-managed GP2 championship leader Romain Grosjean could be helicoptered into Heidfeld’s race seat before the end of the year.
“It could even be described as bullying,” Jordan told Sport Bild, when asked about his theories of the pressure being applied to Heidfeld, who drove for Jordan’s team in 2004.
“They probably want to wear him down so he throws in the towel voluntarily,” he speculated.
“For me, he is Mr Consistency,” Jordan added in Heidfeld’s defence. “I know this because Nick drove for me for a year. 2004 was a very difficult year for Jordan financially, and we could not give him the car that he deserved.
“The same is true also at the moment of the … Renault,” he added.
[Original image via The Cahier Archive]