Mercedes release Heidfeld to test Pirelli

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Nick Heidfeld

Mercedes GP has released Nick Heidfeld from his contract as reserve driver with the team to become Pirelli’s official test driver.

Heidfeld will start driving for Pirelli at today’s test at the Mugello circuit, behind the wheel of a 2009 Toyota F1 car.

Mercedes’ Team Principal Ross Brawn said, ??We can confirm that the team is pleased to allow Nick Heidfeld the opportunity to join Pirelli and contribute to their development work for the company’s imminent return to Formula One.

??Nick is an extremely experienced driver and we are confident that his racing knowledge and technical feedback will prove extremely useful to Pirelli and therefore of benefit to the sport as a whole.

??Nick has been a real asset to Mercedes GP since joining our team this year and we are pleased to see his career progressing.??

Heidfeld was left without a racing seat following last season, when he raced for BMW Sauber before the German car maker withdrew from the sport.

Heidfeld joined the team as reserve driver at the beginning of the season and said:

First of all I would like to thank Ross Brawn, Norbert Haug and Nick Fry for allowing me the opportunity to become Pirelli’s official test driver.

The team has always said that they would not stand in my way if such a chance arose and they have kindly allowed me to take up this exciting new role. I would like to thank everyone at Mercedes GP for the great cooperation that we have had this year.

I have greatly enjoyed supporting the team in my position as Reserve Driver and have felt welcome right from the outset. It was impressive to have the opportunity to work with the current World Champions and I wish the team all the best for the remainder of the season and beyond.
Nick Heidfeld

67 comments on “Mercedes release Heidfeld to test Pirelli”

  1. With all that tyre testing, Nick’s going to be a good catch for a drive next season. Nothing an F1 team likes more than the inside line on new developments.

    1. And yet most of the seats are confirmed anyway. The only one which remains is Renault, and I suspect that Petrov will retain that place.

      1. I think this year he gambled on Schumacher retiring. He will probably have to lower his standards if he is going to get a seat in 2010.

        1. I speculate that he’ll need to go back in time if he wants a 2010 seat. But it’s clear what you mean.

          1. I think Nick’s only chance is Renault if they want to replace him with Petrov or may be Sauber if they car competitive in 2011.Without this options I don’t think there is anywhere he can go.

          2. @wasiF1: How about Force India?

    2. Prisoner Monkeys
      17th August 2010, 23:52

      Actually, I doubt Heidfeld will be able to join the grid at all.

      1. @ OEL: I think Force India may look at Paul Di Resta for 2011 as he have some experience driving the car.

  2. Hope theres videos. Or some kind off advert they will show on tv saying there nexts years F1 tyres etc.

  3. They should’ve released Schumacher! There’ll be no other cars to hit, and he never liked the Bridgestones anyway.

    1. Not sure about him not liking bridgestones (he did win quite a lot in bridgestone shod cars).
      But he is very experienced in tyre testing, doing thousend of miles during the years of favoured partnership with Bridgestone.
      And as he has problems with doing the simulator, it could help him get into a groove as well.

      Only the marketing at Mercedes would not like that i suppose.

      1. Bullfrog: Schumacher + Ferrari + Shell + Bridgestone + Unlimited Testing = 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 & 2004 World Championships.

      2. From reading James Allen’s biography of Schumacher, it’s not really clear if Schumacher is a good test driver.

        Apparently with Schumacher, when the car doesn’t handle well he adjusts his style to suit the car, compensating for the problem, which is part of the reason he was such a unbeatable race driver.

        For a testing role I would think that you would want a driver who can identify a problem, and report it to the team, rather than someone who can naturally adjust their driving style to compensate for the problem.

        1. And thats my point.

          You could argue that he was a good test driver as the car/team was always going to be set up around him, so evolving towards a package that best suits him is the goal.

          Ferrari had such a strong partnership with Bridgestone at the time that not only was the Ferrari set up to best suit Michael, but you basically has a “Schumacher Spec” Bridgestone tyre, which was designed around Michaels driving style.

          1. Which was to be the quickest most of the time.

            Love or hate – it was a stunning package for so long. The rest of the drivers/teams simply couldn’t rise to it…

  4. Suddenly Nick Heidfeld is looking like a much better prospect for a 2011 race drive. Assuming he takes part in a few more tests for Pirelli in the next few months, he’s going to have some expert knowledge of the new tyres.

    Maybe he might even try to shape their development to suit himself, like Schumacher did with Bridgestone

    1. Any team getting him onboard, will surely find it easier to get to the sweetspot in tyre use a lot easier.

      Only thing might be that part of the arrangement is, that Nick is not allowed to join any team earlier than middle of next year.

    2. I still wouldn’t be surprised to see Mercedes re-sign him at the end of the year to replace Schumacher, and I agree he’ll be a much better prospect for next year now with all the Pirelli testing

  5. Well this can only be a good thing. I hope we see Heidfeld racing next year. If he does, I would expect to see him at Sauber or Williams. Heidfeld was strong in 2009, and deserved a race seat this year.

  6. Suddenly the bearded man looks a much stronger possibility for 2011. I’d be interested in knowing what would be his release note and who will replace him.

  7. His statement should have read:

    “First of all I would like to thank Ross Brawn, Norbert Haug and Nick Fry for not allowing me an opportunity to drive the Mercedes GP W01.”

    Quick Nick is well and truly back in the shop window for 2011 now…

    1. And carry on : “Though I believe Michael and I could swap places for the common good of all parties, I guess he will remain in the seat and I, therefore, can’t see why I should stay glued to this no-future seat. ”

      If Michael Schumacher injures himself in the next race, Heidfeild will be hammering his head to the wall.

    2. Quick Nick?

      Reliable Nick? Yes. Quick? you must be joking.

      1. Fair enough.

        What about “Nippy Nick”?

      2. dragon_2712 (@)
        18th August 2010, 2:29

        Er…he was indeed quick. Not the raw pace of a Hamilton or Alonso, but more that consistant, smooth driving that Button is so well known for. He’s always a threat in a decent car.

  8. If I were Button I’d be telling Martin Whitmarsh to make sure that Nick Heidfeld is McLaren’s test driver next year…


    Because, from what I read, the 2 drivers have a very similar style!! (Not to mention a shared interest in facial hair!!)

    1. 100% agree, on both accounts

  9. Heidfeld has to be one of the most overrated drivers in F1 today. He managed nothing while at Sauber, Jordan or Williams and it looks like this testing is likely to lead to him being even more overrated when it comes to signing a driver for next year.

    1. So helping Sauber achieve their best ever finish in the championship is nothing. Getting some points in an uncompetitive Jordan is nothing. Getting podiums and a pole position for Williams is nothing.

      Yes, maybe some people, including me, take things a bit far with saying how good Heidfeld is. But to say he has done nothing is just daft.

      1. Agreed with slr – look at some of the team mates Nick had: Massa, Raikkonen, Webber – all of whom he beat. If Heidfeld did nothing for Sauber and Williams, what did they do?

        It’s very easy to get carried away with appraisals of Heifeld yes – he has become something of a cult figure – but to go to the opposite end of the scale and totally dismiss him is harsh.

        1. “look at some of the team mates Nick had: Massa, Raikkonen, Webber – all of whom he beat”

          I wonder why those guys went on to do bigger and better things and Heidfeld didn’t.

          1. they were more marketable. he should have got raikkonen’s mclaren drive when hakkinen retired. that must be one of the biggest kicks in the balls anyone has got in recent years in this sport.

  10. What I’d like to know is: if one of Mercedes’ drivers now goes down with an injury, do FIA testing rules prevent Heidfeld from driving for Mercedes for the rest of this year?

    1. Sorry Maciek I’m having a dizzy moment here but I don’t entirely understand your question.

      If one gets injured, then they would still be replaced by any driver Merc chooses such as Jaime replacing the fired Bourdais, Badoer, Fisi and even Schumi were ready for Massa. I’m not sure what testing has to do with it. There would still be no testing (or perhaps some testing if all the teams agreed) but he’d be able to compete for them I believe.

      1. As long as he has a super license that is

      2. I’m probably confused as to how the testing ban applies to this case, if at all, but my question came from the fact that Mercedes released him and the wording of the statements on both sides suggested a parting of ways, which I thought meant that they had to officially terminate his contract with Merc so that he could test for Pirelli… which then led me to wonder whether this was so because of the ban on in-season testing (i.e. he couldn’t test while contracted to Merc) – and then consequently, since he will have done the Pirelli tests, would he or not be theoretically allowed to drive in a race later this year. I’m sure I could have put that more concisely, but you get my meaning?

        1. PS. Although I suppose that to avoid conflicts of interest, Pirelli couldn’t test the tires that all teams will be using with a driver contracted to one of the teams… anyhoo, if any of my questions are intelligible do try to enlighten me.

  11. Rohan, if it weren’t painfully obvious that no one has really gotten anywhere with a Sauber or Jordan your comment might actually hold water, but it doesn’t. You can be biased all you want, but Heidfeld, though he doesn’t set the track on fire, is a good and extremely consistent driver. Overall he outperformed Kubica at BMW and while he doesn’t have a race win he is more deserving than several drivers who have won. He has 8 2nd place finishes to his name, 4 in the 2008 season alone. You can be biased all you want, but then so I can I. I am glad Heidfeld will be doing the tire testing and I hope it lands him a decent race seat next year. If Schumacher’s ego hadn’t got in the way, Quick Nick would have one already and I’m sure he’d be pushing Rosberg harder than their elder statesmen is.

  12. Heidfeld outperformed Kubica in 2009 only because BMW made it possible (rubbish car). Overall he was outperformed by Kubica while both drivers worked for BMW-Sauber.

    1. Um hate to break it to you godol but Kubica was outperformed by Nick in 06, 07, and 09 which means Kubica only beat him in the 08 season. Therefore Kubica could not have outperformed Nick during there time together at BMW sauber (Nick:3 Kubica:1)

      1. 06 – Kubica took over from Villeneuve by the end of the season. Can’t take it into account.

        07 – 2 times retired (gearbox), accident in Canada and lack of his bimmer reliability put him behind Nick in points.

        08 – Appointed as BMW first driver. Delivered many points. Considered title contender until BMW decided to give up on development and concentrated on 09 season.

        09 – Outperformed by Nick. Clearly KERS not friendly,

        In overall I would never put Heidfeld ahead of Kubica.

        1. 08 only won due to team orders. Nick despite struggling with tyres still finished only 15 points behind Kubica in championship

          07 car famous for being quick but unreliable, Kubica 3 retirements to Nicks 2

          09 BMW did not have Kers on car all the time and I think Robert didn’t have Kers on it because he couldn’t work it. Kers also made the car heavier!

          Points wise Nick wins

          1. 08 – Team orders? You must be joking.
            The fact was that team had been working hard to close the gap to Kubica sacrificing Bob’s title hunt.

            If Heidfeld was better driver we should have seen him this and next season driving for decent team. The fact is that Kubica is working for Renault and regularly scoring point and ‘quick’ Nick sniffing rubber :)

  13. Who’s replacing Heidfeld at Mercedes?

    1. Maybe Ant Davidson, he’s already their simulator driver according to his Twitter bio.

  14. I find it hard to believe that Heidfeld would have been less competitive against Nico than Schumacher. Michael can blame the car all that he likes, but the fact remains he’s getting his butt kicked by his steady but dull teammate.

  15. Does anybody know what’s the status of the Toyota Pirelli is using for the tyre testing program ? Is it loaned to them by Toyota, did Pirelli bought it ? If there is still someone out there interested in buying what’s left of Toyota’s F1 operation and Heidfeld is putting miles and miles on last year’s car, then yes he could still be back in F1 next year. Otherwise, it looks like he’s going down the road to become a test pilot and nothing else.

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      18th August 2010, 6:37

      I believe the car Heidfeld is using is the TF109. This is not a good platform for developing a team in the future – the TF109 will already be twelve months out of date in 2011. For some reason, people seem to think that you can simply acquire the TF110 chassis, bolt a single-layer diffuser onto it, and you’re good to go. You’ll instantly be competitive. But it doesn’t work that way – the car is designed around the diffuser; its entire point is to maximise the part’s potential because it has proven so crucial to the car’s performance. Simply removing the double-diffuser and sticking a singl-plane one in its place will disrupt the balance of the entire car. It would probably be cheaper to design a car from the ground up than to try and re-develop the TF110 to suit a single-plane diffuser. Easier, too.

  16. So it might be a blessing in disguise that Heidfeld chose a team for 2010 where it was likely he would not be racing (and at least, it did turn out that way). It also may help his chances of obtaining a racing seat for next season, but unless some surprise possibilities would still open up, I’m inclined to believe that his interview goals of getting a car with race and championship winning potential might have to be postponed.

  17. Here are some pictures of Pirelli’s test:

    1. How exciting! Looks like a car driving with some tires on it!

      1. Looking rather bulky in white, I have to say.

        1. The car lacked sponsor. Why it is white in colour? If it’s a Toyota 109 then it should have appeared with the sponsors it has finished with.

  18. Well it’s official. Wonder where this will put him for next season.

  19. What car is it? its got a weird front :)

    1. It is 2009 Toyota car.

  20. Prisoner Monkeys
    17th August 2010, 23:58

    Actually, I doubt Heidfeld will be able to race next year. I’m willing to bet there’s something in his contract that does not allow him to race in order to prevent one team gaining an unfair advantage. At the most, he can probably expect to be a test driver – which was all he was ever good for, anyway.

  21. HAH! Nice to see Ross back at his old antics (getting friendly with the tire makers).

    Does it actually say he no longer works for Mercedes Benz?

    1. Basically, Nick has written off ANY chance of a ride in 2011…
      I firmly believe he is working for Ross still.

    2. Prisoner Monkeys
      18th August 2010, 3:23

      Does it actually say he no longer works for Mercedes Benz?

      Yes. The Autosport article on the subject says that he has been released from his contract. It is likely that one of the conditions of his contract with Pirelli is that he cannot be affiliated with any of the current teams, as this would give that team an unfair advantage. I also very much doubt that he’ll be racing in 2011, either, for the same reasons.

      1. ok cool… you seem to believe only what you read.

        1. Prisoner Monkeys
          18th August 2010, 6:24

          Actually, I know something of the way contracts are drawn up. Nick Heidfeld must be a free agent in order to work with Pirelli. If he had any association with Mercedes, the other teams would complain and move to block his joining the tyre tests because that would give an unfair advantage to Mercedes.

  22. Really glad for Nick! He way deserved better than being a test driver. If he had gotten MS car, Merc would be so much better in the standings right now… (IMHO).

  23. I’ve always wiked Heidfeld for some weason. He’s not as intewesting as some dwivers, but he waces consistentwy in a vewy wawified enviwonment.

    ….thats it!

  25. Just wondering, does anyone know whether Pirelli bought the car they are using from Toyota, or whether Toyota is leasing / loaning it to Pirelli?

  26. What a great way for Ross Brawn to get more information on the tyres for next year. Schumi cant make his tyres work this season, so they send the reserve driver to get a heads up on the competition. It would be great if Heidfeld replaced that 41 year old jackass, but it seems highly unlikely.

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