F1 Fanatic guest writer Journeyer gets us ready for the German Grand Prix by looking back at the career of Nick Heidfeld.
After a three week break, F1 is back in business at the Nurburgring. There are five German F1 drivers on the grid today, but one of them has been particularly good at this track – BMW’s Nick Heidfeld.
While he may have fallen tantalisingly short of a maiden win many times, his consistency in producing good results has ensured his stay in F1 for many years now. Let’s take a look back at his career so far.
1998: Quick Nick first came onto the F1 radar courtesy of Mercedes man Norbert Haug. Having been sufficiently impressed by his performances in German F3, he gave him a seat in McLaren’s Formula 3000 team.
Heidfeld had a very good rookie year, finishing runner-up to Juan Pablo Montoya. Here’s some highlights from that year’s race at Pau, where he spun, but managed to finish third.
1999: A second shot at F3000 saw him crowned champion. McLaren was also giving him some solid F1 exposure as a test driver. Here he is running the McLaren F1 car at Goodwood that year – when he set the all-time course record which still stands ten years later.
2000: He finally got his F1 break courtesy of Alain Prost’s team. Heidfeld had a rough year, failing to score any points in the uncompetitiv car. He also had some big crashes, including this one with team mate Jean Alesi at the A1-Ring.
2001: Having had enough of Prost, he decided to move to Sauber for 2001. It was the right move at the right time – he scored his first podium at Interlagos, and led the team to fourth in the constructors championship.
But he was shocked to find out that McLaren had skipped him over for his young team mate Kimi Raikkonen, despite outscoring him over the course of the season. Heidfeld hasn’t even been close to driving for McLaren ever since.
2002: Heidfeld next had to deal with Felipe Massa, whom he beat easily. However, he didn’t have too many memorable performances, either. He’d probably want to forget about this crash into, of all things, the medical car at Interlagos.
2003: It just got tougher and tougher for Heidfeld. While he did make a mistake while qualifying at the Nurburgring, he managed to go from P20 to P8 in the race. Sadly, he’d only score twice more that season. Worse, Sauber dropped him to make way for Giancarlo Fisichella.
Where would Nick go now? Part two tomorrow will show how he managed to revive an F1 career that looked like it had hit the buffers.