Sunday, January 24, 2010

Heidfeld has found fortune in nationality

It is expected that on Monday, Nick Heidfeld will be the reserve driver for Mercedes GP in 2010, according to a report by Auto Bild. There will be a lot people that will be shocked by that bit of news and for an experienced veteran driver effectively being demoted to test driver may be a blow to the pride, but in reality Heidfeld should consider himself lucky.

There are alot people that consider Raikkonen an enigma, myself included, but if that is true about Raikkonen, then Heidfeld is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. He is a quick veteran driver, very solid technically, consistent, has usually outpointed teammates and seems like a pretty good guy. Yet he can not hold a job.

It happened at Sauber twice now. Most recently he was overlooked for Pedro De la Rosa and Kamui Kobayashi and at the end of 2003 was dumped for Massa and Fisicella. He went to Jordan as an option of last resort for 2004 and Jordan was unable to keep him after a year. He barely beat out Antonio Pizzonia for the drive at Williams; no doubt helped by the fact Williams was being supplied by German automaker, BMW. Then, after one season, BMW took Heidfeld back to Sauber when they acquired the team. he finally enjoyed some stability in his career but to many he was exposed as a driver truly lacking something inside not to long into 2006.

During 2006, Heidfeld was paired with 1997 champ Jacques Villeneuve for the first part of the season, and had pedestrian results that matched Villeneuve's but was being out qualified by Villeneuve 8 to 4. Villeneuve gets hurt and is replaced by Kubica which quickly becomes a permanent switch. In his first race in Hungary, Kubica out qualified Heidfeld by four tenths. After that, Heidfeld went on to demonstrate that he really had raw speed out qualifying Kubica the rest of the season. However, there were many people that saw that and said, where has that outright performance been the last few years.

This brings us today. As BMW folded up shop, time has shown that no one wants this guy; or at the very least, just does not want to pay him. He has only found refuge with another German automaker, Mercedes Benz; and again that is as a reserve. Nevertheless, his skills will be useful; paired with Schumacher, a technical legend behind the wheel and Rosberg, an intelligent and no slouch himself in that area the team will not lack in driver information and technical feedback.

However, Heidfeld only has BMW to thank that he was not out of F1 5 years ago and now Merecedes Benz for having saved him once again. He should be on his hands and knees saying "Danke schon!"


Lights 2 Flag said...

A good post. Once the Sauber drive fell through I thought Heidfeld would be heading for a stint in DTM (German Touring Cars). I think one of Heidfeld's problems is his lack of charisma. Probably not what a team sponsor is looking for to promote their brand. I suppose a reserve drive at Mercedes will stay pay better than a DTM drive plus you never know, if Schumacher has a reccurence of his neck problem, Heidfeld could get his chance.


Pete DaSilva said...

I agree very quiet guy and not an outward me sort of personality. I suppose in a sport where exposure is part of deal, teams can do without a behind the scenes driver. So, a reserve/testing role is right up his alley.