Nick Heidfeld has said he is hopeful of finding a race seat for the 2011 season, after Sauber announced this week they would sign young Mexican Sergio Perez.
Heidfeld had been drafted in to the Sauber team to replace Pedro de La Rosa for the final few races of the season. The 33 year old, who had previously driven for the team in both its privateer and BMW ownership days had been hopeful of racing for the team in 2011.
However he is now looking for a seat in another team, and some big teams like Renault and Williams have yet to confirm their driver line ups.
“I think it will happen,” he said of his prospects of landing a race drive. “But until it’s signed, you can never be sure.
“Obviously there are not that many places left for next year, but we are doing our best. It’s looking positive, definitely.”
“I didn’t know about it [Perez signing for 2011] before I signed for this year,” said Heidfeld. “Obviously I knew that there were things going on in the background and Peter [Sauber] informed me before it was made official.
“Actually, I didn’t complain. Quite the opposite – I congratulated him because it’s great news for the team and especially for the guys in Hinwil who I have worked with for seven years. I’m happy that they can continue with a partner in Telmex that secures the future and gives them the possibility to move further up.”
Mexican rising star Sergio Perez has been announced as one of Sauber’s race drivers for the 2011 season.
Perez, who drove in this season’s GP2 Series, will join Kaumi Kobayashi at the Swiss based outfit. Sauber took over the team once again at the start of the season, following BMW’s withdrawal from the sport.
“Formula 1 is the dream of every young racing driver,” said Perez. “And now this dream is about to come true for me.
“Although I’m very much aware that this is also a big challenge and responsibility, I’m happy to accept that and am proud to be representing my country in the highest category of motor racing.
“I would like to thank Peter Sauber for the faith he’s shown in me and I’ll do everything I can to make the most of this wonderful opportunity.”
Along with a new driver, Sauber also announced a major sponsorship deal with Telmex, the telecommunications company owned by Mexican entrepreneur Carlos Slim.
“Sauber has been not only a very successful racing team but also a strong talent developer of some of the most recognised names in racing since their early stages as well as one of the most respected people in the sport,” said Telmex chairman Carlos Slim Domit, the eldest son of Slim.
“Their decision of having Sergio with them is very significant on his career to become a top driver representing Mexico. For Telmex and our racing project Escuderia Telmex it’s a great step forward, and we feel very proud to be able to consolidate these years of work for having a Mexican driver in F1 with Sauber Motorsport.”
Peter Sauber added: “Telmex has been involved in motor sport for a number of years already and supports drivers in various race series. Now they are making the key step up into the top category of motor racing, and we are happy and proud that they are taking this step with us.”
Sauber have already changed drivers this season, with Nick Heidfeld replacing Pedro de La Rosa. The German now has no seat for 2011, although he is being linked with a drive at Renault.
Renault boss Eric Boullier has said the Enstone based squad are keeping their options open with regard a team mate for Robert Kubica next season. While current Renault number 2, Vitaly Petrov, has not been ruled out of racing in 2011 the speculation has been high that the Russian would make way for a new driver at the resurgent team.
Kimi Raikkonen has been hotly tipped by many, including ourselves, for a race seat with the team. The Finn, who was world champion in 2007, has contacted the team twice and Renault say they are flattered by the interest. However Boullier is concerned about the motivation of the former Ferrari and McLaren driver.
“He [Raikkonen] contacted us but, once again, our main issue at the moment is whether we should keep Petrov; only if this question is negated we will look for replacement.” Boullier told Formula1.com
“I would have to speak personally with him first, look him in the eyes to see if I see enough motivation there for him to return to Formula 1.
“It doesn’t make sense to hire somebody – even a former World Champion – if you can’t be sure that his motivation is still one hundred percent. Why should you invest in somebody who leaves you guessing?”
Boullier added that there were possibilites away from Raikkonen in the form of Adrian Sutil and Nick Heidfeld.
“Now I have to choose my words very carefully” Boullier continued when asked about Sutil and Heidfeld,
“Let’s put it this way: we don’t have a direct contact right now and the door is not open yet, but we have signaled that it could open under certain circumstances.”
Raikkonen is still the hot favourite for the race seat, but looks like he will have to prove himself to the team if he is to be on the grid at the start of 2011.
Pedro de la Rosa has been sacked from his position as a race driver with the Sauber team, to be replaced from the Singaporean Grand Prix by German driver Nick Heidfeld.
Heidfeld has had a long relationship with Sauber, driving for it under its private ownership in the early 2000’s, and again when it was run by BMW. He left at the end of last season and joined Mercedes Benz as a test driver, before being released to help Pirelli with their 2011 tyre testing. Now he rejoins Sauber for a race seat.
Sauber had some bad fortunes early on, but hit form recently with good finishes. The Ferrari powered car is quick, but sadly not reliable enough. Heidfeld will partner popular Japanese Kamui Kobayashi.
“It was a hard decision for me to make as a team principal and I want to thank Pedro for his professionalism,” explained Sauber. “By signing Nick we have a driver we know extremely well who will help us to further judge the comparative potential of our car.”
De la Rosa expressed his shock at the decision, which comes after he returned to the sport at the start of this season.
“I am surprised by the team´s decision, but I respect it and would like to wish everyone good luck for the remainder of the season,” he said. “I still intend to be in Formula 1 for 2011”.
Heidfeld himself added: “I’m looking forward like crazy to having the opportunity to go racing again in a good car in Formula 1 from the Singapore Grand Prix onwards. After the last months I’m even more motivated than ever.
Pirelli have confirmed they will be exiting tyre production in the World Rally Championship in order to focus on their tyre supply to Formula One.
Pirelli, the Italian tyre manufacturer, won the contract to be the sole tyre supplier to Formula One earlier this year and have already begun testing ahead of their supply to the teams. Using an un-raced Toyota TF109 with Nick Heidfeld at the wheel, early tyre tests have been said to be positive.
The manufacturer say that F1 isn’t the only reason why they are leaving. They have added that the extent of the rule changes in WRC for 2011 and then in 2012 have forced them the last mile out of the door. Michelin are said to be interested in tendering for the now open WRC contract.
“The first point to make here is the way the rules have been changed,” Paul Hembery, boss of Pirelli Motorsport told Autosport. “There have been three significant rule changes in the last nine months – and, possibly, an even more significant change coming in 2012.
“In December we tendered for another three-year deal to supply tyres for WRC. Once again, our tender was set out to provide finance for continued investment in the FIA, in the sport’s promoter and, of course in the Pirelli Star Driver scheme which we financed from its inception in 2008.
“That three-year tender was rejected and we were offered a one-year extension on the same terms as the current three-year deal, then a one-year deal on the new tender conditions – that was something we felt was unacceptable.
“And now we come to the current regulation, which we feel is neither a control tyre scenario or competition. And, based on the experiences we have had in GT racing, where regulations similar to those in the WRC were open to interpretation and were flexible if a [tyre] manufacturer was having some difficulties. We explained those issues [to the FIA] and we have had no significant response. These rules leave a lot to be desired and we have communicated these limitations to the FIA.
“Overall it just feels that we were not wanted in the sport despite delivering run-flat technology, a Tarmac-specification tyre [which is] fully EEC road homologated, an offer to bring self-sealing, puncture-resistance to the sport, aromatic oil-free tyres and, of course, a level puncture resistance that was unheard of before 2008. We leave the sport with our head held high, having supported the series through some of the most difficult economic conditions ever experienced.”
Nick Heidfeld has been officially confirmed as Mercedes Benz;’s 3rd driver for the forthcoming season, and therefore creates an all German driver line-up for the silver arrows squad.
Heidfeld had been racing up until the end of last season with BMW, but after they pulled out his contract was unrenewable and he was linked with a variety of outfits including Lotus and Renault. But Lotus went with Trulli and Kovalainen, and Renault took on rookie Russian Vitaly Petrov (and his €15million sponsorship package) instead.
Now Heidfeld returns to the marque who he raced for early in his career and goes back to being a test driver for the first time since 1999 when he was testing for McLaren, who were powered by Mercedes at the time. Heidfeld set a lap record at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 1999 in the McLaren (see here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYY-WkPnUbg ) before getting his big break with Prost.
Heidfeld said: “I am very pleased to be joining the Mercedes GP Petronas Formula 1 Team. It’s the team which has attracted the most interest in the close season, not only because of the comeback of Michael Schumacher, but also because this season sees the return of the Silver Arrows cars as a Mercedes-Benz works team for the first time in over 50 years.
“While I would of course have preferred a seat as an active driver, I am really proud to be part of the new Silver Arrows team. I have seen how committed everyone at the team is and I feel the same. I will be doing my very best to support Michael and Nico this year.”
Perennial F1 driver Nick Heidfeld has reduced himself from a top race team role to a test driving role to keep himself in Formula One it was leaked today.
The German driver, who raced with the BMW Sauber team until the end of last season was left without a drive following their decision to withdraw from the sport. He did not do enough to secure a race seat with the reformed Sauber team, nor with Renault who are flirting with a variety of new drivers. Nor did Heidfeld do enough to impress Mercedes Benz, as he lost out to Michael Schumacher in the fight for the second seat.
Now Heidfeld’s manager suggests he will settle for a test role to keep his hand in at the pinnacle of motorsport.
“Nick wants to concentrate fully on his job as test driver and support the regular drivers with his experience,” Heidfeld’s manager Andre Theuerzeit told respected German magazine Auto Bild.
“Nick had focused on having a [race] cockpit with the top teams, but their decisions were rather late. So we’ve gone for another opportunity.”
Nick Heidfeld says he is still confident of finding a race seat for the 2010 season even though options and opportunities are slimming for the German.
Heidfeld says that while he is happy to see Michael Schumacher return to the sport, the 7 time world champion and fellow countryman hurt his chances of finding a drive, after Nick was heavily linked with Mercedes Benz.
“Of course over the holidays my current job situation did not let go of me, even after Michael Schumacher’s decision was published just before Christmas,” he said. “This is certainly a great thing for Formula 1 and I wish good luck to Michael and Mercedes.
“This decision affects me directly because it means there is a relevant less space for next year. I am not naive when I say, especially after the past few weeks, a lot of unexpected things can happen in Formula 1.”
Heidfeld now looks to have a shot at getting the second Renault race seat alongside 2008/9 team mate Robert Kubica, or even taking a 3rd driver role within Mercedes.
Nico Rosberg was unveiled this morning as Mercedes Benz GP’s first new driver for the 2010 season.
The highly rated German youngster left Williams after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and was connected with the team before Brawn sold out to Mercedes. When this happened, it became almost 100% certain that Rosberg would join Benz as the manufacturer looked to German drivers.
“I am really happy to be a part of the Silver Arrows re-launch in 2010 as a driver for Mercedes,” said Rosberg.
“No other brand in Formula 1 can look back on such a long and successful tradition in motor racing. I am very proud that I will now drive for the new Mercedes team and work with Ross Brawn.
“I am more motivated than ever and can hardly wait to start testing with the new Silver Arrow and for the first race of the new season at Bahrain in March.”
Speculation is mounting as to who his team mate will be. With internet (and Eddie Jordan’s) finger pointing at Michael Schumacher, lets not forget Nick Heidfeld the “maybe” man has been linked with the drive, could this re-spark his career?