Pirelli swap Heidfeld for Grosjean in test “to avoid favouring any individual team”

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Romain Grosjean will take over Nick Heidfeld’s role testing tyres for Pirelli.

The change follows Heidfeld’s move to re-join Sauber, announced on Tuesday.

Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said the change of drivers to Grosjean was “in order to avoid favouring any individual team”:

We’d like to thank Nick for his very valuable contribution to our tyre development programme and we wish him all the best for the future.

In order to avoid favouring any individual team, we have jointly decided to release Nick from his contract and now we have chosen Romain to test for us in Monza. He’s packed a lot of experience into a short space of time, including all our GP3 tyre development, so I’m sure he’ll be able to give us some very useful feedback.

The tests here at Jerez have gone extremely well and we completed all the work that we planned over the two days. Now we move onto Monza, where our task will be to finalise the construction before we focus further on compounds.
Paul Hembery

Heidfeld completed 100 laps of running in the two-day test at Jerez.

Read more: Grosjean joins Lopez’s Gravity management

Image © Pirelli

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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70 comments on “Pirelli swap Heidfeld for Grosjean in test “to avoid favouring any individual team””

  1. May be they just need someboby in the cockpit…Heidfeld was largely a better tester, in my opinion.

    1. But how much do we actually know about Grosjean as far as testing and developing a car is concerned?

      1. well he was test driver for Renault for a few years, of course these days that doesn’t mean much but I’m sure he would have done more than a few km’s for Renault in testing

      2. I don’t think it really matters how well he can develop a car, as hes not developing a car. I think they are more just after someone who can provide feedback on the handling of the car and more than anything put together consistant fast laps.

        Pirelli will be doing all the developing, they just want someone that can simulate the pace the tyre will be subject to over the season.

  2. The whole saga seems that much stranger. Why abandon Mercedes for Pirelli, only to move to Sauber and not continue with the Pirelli stuff? There doesn’t seem to be any incentive in any of this unless Heidfeld fancies himself as Schumacher’s replacement and wants track time to build up to it.

    1. he wouldn’t say no to a race seat for the last races. you got to take every oppurtunity. it’ll also put him in a good place for at least a seat with sauber for next year.

    2. I think he was certain he would not get the permanent drive with Mercedes (i heard they consider Sutil before Heidfeld to fill that spot).

      And as he was really wanting to drive, he did a deal with Merc to release him and with Pirelli to get some recent track time and add to his value. He said to the official FOM side, that he was driving for free with them.

      I think now he can get a seat it would offer the option of racing, and maybe even getting paid for points scored or so, and there is the prospect of getting the seat for next year or impressing and getting another seat.

      Pirelli probably wanted to keep going with him, but the other teams could hardly agree with such a move (after not agreeing with a Mercedes test driver, why should they like it better with Sauber?).

      1. Half the people who post on here make no sense at all.

        1. christopher ebert
          17th September 2010, 20:45

          which is right, even if you were in the wrong half.

    3. At the end of the day I think that Nick just wants a race seat… I suspect he left Merc to test tires for Pirelli in the hope that this would count in his favour when it comes to getting a drive for next season.

      Then when Sauber offered him a drive in place of Pedro he jumped at the chance, meaning that Pirelli then felt obligated to let Nick go as they don’t want to be seen to be giving privileged information to any team.

      I suspect they will have taken Grosjean mostly because they doubt any team will be dropping drivers to take him this season.

    4. Heidfeld has clearly said on a number of occassions that picking up the Pirelli role was solely to help him get back into a race seat.

      Mission accomplished. He’s now back in a race seat.

    5. Now that is just silly.

      Why would he stay with Mercedes and not get to drive?

      Why would he stay with Pirelli and only do test driving?

      He has made the logical move both times.

    6. Since there is no in season testing the Pirelli job was the best way to get some recent time behind the wheel, which is the only reason he was attractive to Sauber. You don’t really want your new driver’s first laps of the season to be in race conditions.

      Its also possible that he already thought there might be a mid-season opening when he left Mercedes for Pirelli. Pirelli gave him a good reason to ask Mercedes to let him out of his contract. While Mercedes would likely let him out to go to Pirelli, would they have also let him out of his contract to race against them? If a Mercedes to Sauber move wasn’t possible directly, this was the best way to do it.

  3. Can’t hurt Grosjean’s prospects for a drive next year – never thought he got a fair crack at the whip in what was a poor car last year.

    1. I completely agree, at the time it was a team with a lot of internal problems too.

    2. It makes for pretty good thinking by Genii as well. Have him in the DAMS GP2 car to do some races, then get him to do the tyre development (did not know about PG3 tyres developed by Grosjean, but you keep learning).

      And maybe they can get him in the Renault next year if they want to replace Petrov or the year after if they want

    3. It seems that for now Grosjean is still working on getting a more permanent job as tyre tester for Pirelli for this year (http://www.gpupdate.net/en/f1-news/242968/grosjean-wants-pirelli-job-full-time/).
      But I am sure the target is to get a full time racing seat next year for him.

  4. Luca Badoer would have been a good choice! They should have someone experience who can help to develope the tyre. David Coulthard would have been a good choice given his experience as both driving for Michelin & Bridgestone.

    1. Badoer ? ….. I’m guessing at some point Pirelli will really want there tyres taken to the very limit…. can’t see Badoer doing that can you ?

      1. Trust me I wasn’t serious.

        1. It would be nice to have some new font for irony on the interweb, eg. 12 pt ironic bold or something like that.

          Being serious about the Badoer, like every other racing driver out there he must be in F1 for some reason, so i’m pretty sure that even the slowest drivers on the grid can crack very fast laps with some consistency, and could teach all of us a lot about apexes and so on.

          1. Luca could maybe develop a tire for tractors?

    2. They will need the tires to operate at the proper temperatures when testing. Not sure if Luca would be able to get them there.

      (Continue to insert Badoer jokes below)

      1. Badoer could simulate running behind the safety car or the formation lap?

      2. I just want Luca’s job

    3. That’s actually not a bad idea. Think about it – Luca was the lead Ferrari tester for all of Schumacher’s Ferrari titles. Understandably, Schumi did a lot of testing himself, but he trusted Luca enough for him to keep the test seat for years (he outlasted their other testers Luciano Burti and Marc Gene). Luca may not be the fastest driver, but I think he has this tester’s quality of being very consistent with how he drives, regardless of how good/bad the car is. And that means he can establish an effective baseline from which to start improvement.

      1. hmmmm consistently slow :)

        1. But fast for a tractor :D

  5. I wonder if Sauber knew this would be the case?

    1. Given that Pirelli has already gone to the lengths it has to make itself impartial I suspect they they expected them to drop Nick.

      I would imagine they have taken a calculated decision that Nick has already given the information that Pirelli are going to use as a baseline to develop the tires, so he will stand them in good stead for next season whilst also keeping him inexperienced enough to stop other teams poaching him for next season.

      1. And to add to that, it would have been a pretty tight scedule to fit the fly away races and factory duties at Sauber together in an intensive testing program in Europe wit Pirelli anyhow.

  6. Will pirelli only use one test driver? I would have thought that they might want to use 2 or 3 to get different view points. Still I agree with the move by pirelli.

    1. Given that once Romain has done his test they will already have used 2, I find it doubtful they’d only use 1!

      I agree with you though, an array of drivers would be best!

  7. No official word on lap times but apparently they’re “there or thereabouts”.

    1. A shame, although understandable.

      I hope Heidfeld keeps that nice dark helmet he’s wearing during the tests when he goes to Sauber, it would fit nicely with the car.

  8. I can’t understand why they didn’t take P De la Rosa instead. Good news for Grosjean though.

    1. Yes, exactly. PDLR would have been perfect considering his experience, especially as a McLaren tester.

    2. If Pirelli is serious about developing one tire for F1 & GP2, then Grosjean is a better choice as he’s driven cars in both levels. While I’m sure PDR could drive a GP2 car, he doesn’t have the race experience in one that Grosjean has. Plus they both run roughly the same number of F1 races each over the last two years.

  9. Romain Grosjean was an average starter. Agreed that the R29 was a Rhino but he should have tried to do something more with that car. Had he shown some perseverance like Kobayashi did, he would have been racing this year in some new team.
    But its a good opportunity for the youngster.

    1. He was closer to Alonso than Petrov is to Kubica. And let’s underline again that the R29 was a complete truck:

      Why Grosjean deserves another F1 shot

      1. Grosjean has all that a driver needs to deserve a seat in F1. Wins in GP2, wins in the inaugural GT1 World championship, and was in a torturous team in the aftermath of the piquet crash-gate scandal.. i don’t think any young driver could have done any better than him in last year’s renault really.

        probably more deserving than most other F1 hopefuls.

    2. Kobayashi although impressive in his first few races, is where he is today because of Toyota money.

      1. i think Kudos to both of them!

      2. That is at least something of a good legacy for Toyota then.

    3. I thought Big John was the best driver of 2009, especially when he crashed in Singapore at Pique corner. I tell you, I was falling out of my chair laughing out loud!

  10. Heidfeld must feel slightly vindicated. He’s landed a race seat for the remainder of the season, and possibly next year, which was what he wanted.

  11. Ah… not the wisest of decisions to be honest…

  12. Hmm – I would have expected maybe Nakajima. This is a funny piece of news as wasn’t it on F1Fanatic earlier this week that Romain Grosjean had signed for somebody?

    1. Yep – Gravity (link at bottom of article: Grosjean joins Lopez’s Gravity management)

  13. Ive never heard of Grosjean what do we know about him? and whats his history?

    1. If you click on his name in the first paragraph it’ll take you to his biography: Romain Grosjean.

  14. Thanks Keith i found that page interesting to read

  15. I would have thought hiring De La Rosa as the Pirelli tester would have been a more logical option. De la Rosa is an experienced driver with many miles of testing experience on track and in a similator. Maybe De la Rosa really has had it. A shame, he’s been a top guy this season and was brave to step back in to the sport, particuarly such an awful car!

    However, no discredit to Grosjean though! I cant really forsee any big seats in F1 next season though, but best of luck to him regardless.

    1. I’m sure Pirelli know what they’re doing when they select test drivers.

      Plus Grosjean has worked for them before developing GP3 tyres, so they know what they’re getting and they obviously liked the job he did.

    2. If Grosjean did their GP3 development, he must know how to give them the feedback. Last year he drove in F1 after years of testing for Renault and he did some GP2 races as well this year.

      That means he knows Pirellis tyres from GP3 testing, and can compare recent F1 and GP2 experience. Sounds like a pretty good deal for Pirelli.

      And from what i read about this, it is still very possible, that they actually took Grosjean to do the next test but might change to another tester after that.

      Not sure about the logic in that, but if they want de la Rosa and he is not available that soon, it might make sense.

  16. Let’s not forget that this is tyre testing and not chassis work. You don’t need the quickest or most experienced driver. It requires a driver to be consistent at or under 100% – nothing will be acheived by someone who flat-spots, drives in to gravel, or puts it in the wall. Obviously Pirelli are confident that Grosjean will deliver a very stable base that they can interpret data from.

  17. I really thought Pirelli would go with Pedro, and they still might. Maybee they are just worried that people might think they were benefitting Sauber if they went directly to Pedro.

  18. So, now that Lotus are teaming up with Toyata (ESPNF1), does this mean that Pirelli have to find another “neutral” chassis. Perhaps a Super-Aguri?

    Also, while I’m on this topic, does anyone else think that the Lotus tie-up with Toyota is about engines? ESPNF1 are reporting that there is a tie-up with Toyota but that they are likely to use Renault engines and drive-line. This doesn’t make any sense to me. Why would you swap to what is acknowledged to be the slowest engine on the grid?

    1. could well be about engines. I heard all the rumours about renault, but nothing have been confirmed yet. If you remember, Lotus teamed up with Toyota in the real world when taking the Elise into the US market, with great success. This could well be a return to that partnership, a Lotus F1 car with Toyota F1 engine could be awesome for the next few years til the engine rules change.

      1. Lotus are announcing Renault engine very soon by all accounts, so that seems unlikely.

        1. Keith, can you explain *why* they would switch to Renault engines in particular?

          1. I did on Sunday:

            Team principal Tony Fernandes expressed frustration at suffering another gearbox failure during today’s Italian Grand Prix. This is believed to be the key motivating factor behind the change of engine which will also come with a supply of gearboxes.

            Cosworth confirms Lotus split as 2011 Renault engine deal rumours intensify

          2. The trick is, Lotus is searching for a replacement to Xtrack for their gearbox and drive train (those were the default for the new teams as ordained by mad max).

            Renault was offering a good deal with nice quality and KERS option, but pushed for a tie in with their engine.

      2. It’s been a while since Cosworth won a W.C. or even a race. They are working with new teams with the exception of Williams. I think the real problem with Cosworth is in fitting their engine with the chassis design.

        Williams hasn’t won a race in a long time, but they are the top to the pile for Cosworth. I find it hard to fathom how one can take a “spec” engine and develop a chassis around it, I suppose it can happen but it’s never going to be like an ergonomic fit of engine and chassis like Ferrari have and Macca have had.

        RBR have Newey, and in my opinion he could make a hamster powered F1 car go fast. He put a customer engine into an incredible design… just look at the difference between the factory Renault and the RBR. I think that is really the exception rather than the rule.
        In my opinion the Cosy teams need a better designer to work with.

  19. At least it looks like common sense is breaking out in Pirelli. I hope they continue in this vein all the time they are testing, and use test drivers from different teams all the time…..

  20. Good news for him !
    Still a better tester than Piquet Junior ..

  21. He has had far too little time testing the tires to gain any advantage from this time working with Pirelli. I welcome Nick back, he was consistent, maybe not exciting, but a good driver non-the-less.

    As for Grosjean, he will do a fine job in my opinion with the tests.

    I look forward to seeing if Heidfeld can beat Kobayashi!

    1. Does Heidfeld need another advantage from it? He got back in the spotlight and now got a drive for a couple of races.

  22. Hopefully Pirelli knows what they are doing…

  23. Grosjean a good tester watched him at silverstone a few years ago – but great feedback from everyone, keep it up. Any Schumy jokes yet ? (Tester) Me sad – not now able to go to singapore hurt me knee !!!

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