Nick Heidfeld insists he is “not yet” ready to move on from F1. The German driver’s F1 career has spanned over a decade and he has contested over 180 grands prix, however he lost his Renault (Lotus) seat last season having stood in for the injured driver Robert Kubica.
On that sudden ousting, 35-year-old Heidfeld admits he is still angry.
“It takes a while to work through that process, and it’s a process that is still taking place,” he said, admitting it was a “very difficult time”. “It was not the farewell that I imagined.”
Heidfeld has had several outings in other racing spheres since leaving F1, but reveals he is “just now starting to hold some talks” about 2013. His preference is F1.
“I am not yet at a state where I would say I will try something else,” he told DPA news agency. “For that I love the sport too much. But if it was that easy (to return to F1), then I would have. So it will not be easy, but on the other hand, as we have seen in recent years, there is always the unexpected.
“I wouldn’t just go to any team though, and I know that the chance of going straight to a top team is quite small. It’s also pointless to be a reserve driver, because you never drive. So if I didn’t have the prospect of success, then I don’t need it anymore.”
Heidfeld holds the record for the most career podiums without a single grand prix win.
“Clearly there are better records to have,” he smiled. “But there are many others who have never been in formula one let alone had a podium, so it’s still special.”
Nick Heidfeld has revealed that he is still hoping his F1 career is not yet over. The 35 year old German driver began in F1 in 2000 and in his time in the sport has scored 13 podiums – although he has yet to win a Formula One race.
Heidfeld is currently competing in endurance sports car racing, giving the impression that German Heidfeld has acknowledged his F1 career is over.
“You’d think that, but it’s not the case,” he insisted on Monday to Auto Motor und Sport. “Of course it’s not easy to find a place, otherwise I’d be there already. I’m having quite a lot of fun in sports cars and we’ll just have to see what the future holds.”
Heidfeld admits it has been “very difficult” to accept that, in 2012 at least, he is no longer an F1 driver. But he is still an avid fan. Commenting on the topsy-turvy season seen so far, with five different winners, Heidfeld enthused: “It’s incredible. Even the teams I think don’t really know what’s going on. It’s most enjoyable for the viewers and I think also for many of the teams, who know that they have a good chance every now and then.
“That’s unlike the past few years, when only Red Bull and maybe McLaren could win and the rest are fighting for the lower places.”
Heidfeld also commented on his countryman Michael Schumacher’s widely reported recent criticism of Pirelli’s difficult 2012 tyres.
“He complained a little bit more than normal and that will always be cooked hotter than if someone else had said it,” said Heidfeld. “Of course, as a driver, you always want better tyres, but as always you have to adapt to the situation. Sometimes it works out well for you, sometimes less.”
Finally, he was asked who will lift the crown in 2012, answering simply: “Lewis Hamilton.”
Nick Heidfeld charged to second place in Sunday’s chaotic Malaysian Grand Prix thanks to a bold tyre decision by his team.
The German was one of the few drivers to stay out on full wet tyres even though it became clear that the intermediate tyres were better suited to the initial showers in Sepang.
When the full deluge came – forcing race directors to stop the grand prix on lap 32 – Heidfeld was able to stay out on track. He was eventually promoted to second place when stewards amended the classification to reflect the order at the time of the red flag.
“I’m obviously very happy to be second after starting from tenth,” said Heidfeld. “It was a really extreme and challenging race today. I had a good start but also quite a heavy car, which meant racing was not easy for me.”
“When it was obvious it would rain soon I pitted seven laps earlier than planned, and we decided to go on full rain tyres. They wore down quickly because the heavy rain didn’t come.”
“The team kept telling me “stay out, heavy rain expected”, but the tyres felt almost like slicks. For those laps intermediates would have been much quicker, but who could know that. When it finally poured down it was the right decision to stop the race.”
“It was absolutely impossible to drive. I spun behind the safety car, not only because of aquaplaning with the tyres but also with the underfloor. I’m happy for our team that we can now bring home at least one proper result from the first two races of the season.â€
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: “The race was as chaotic as we expected based on the weather forecast. For Robert, the race was already over at the start because his engine didn t respond to the throttle. According to an early analysis the reason was a leakage in the pneumatic system. Because of the weather forecast we put Nick on a heave fuel load. This enabled him to stay out until the rain started. He switched to rain tyres at the right moment and was able to finish the race. In extremely difficult conditions he managed to achieve the best possible result. Compliments go to Nick and the whole crew, who worked without any mistakes.â€
Willy Rampf, Head of Engineering: “This was not a race for poor nerves! For Robert, the GP was over at the start. That s a shame, because he was in a strong position. Nick started on a heavy fuel load. The strategy to leave him out for a long time paid off. This was brave, but in the end it worked out. In very difficult conditions he managed to keep the car on the track and to capture a podium finish. Compliments are due to the whole team who worked perfectly in chaotic conditions.â€
Nick Heidfeld will be demoted three places on the grid for Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix after stewards deemed him to have impeded Rubens Barrichello in qualifying.
Heidfeld was peeling off into the pitlane in Q1 when Rubens Barrichello, who was on a flying lap, caught the BMW Sauber driver.
The pitlane entry has already come under fire this weekend for being on the racing line.
Heidfeld qualified in sixth place but will drop to ninth. This promotes Sebastian Vettel to sixth, Timo Glock to seventh, and Nico Rosberg to eighth.
Heidfeld believes the penalty was unfair. He told autosport.com: “The GPS system does not work here. Normally we are pretty good from the team side to inform me of cars arriving, but here it is not just working.”
“It doesn’t show you cars, it then shows the wrong cars or the wrong positions. So I was not informed because the GPS does not work.”
“The last part of the circuit was so tight and I watched the mirrors but you don’t see cars coming. When I saw him (Rubens) I tried to do the best I could to get out of the way.”
“After the white line I tried to be as quick into the pitlane without moving completely right and going into his way. It was the best I could do. But apparently not enough.”
Under pressure BMW Sauber driver Nick Heidfeld gave his chances of staying with the team for next year a further boost in Spa-Francorchamps after an impressive charge to the third step of the podium, courtesy of a well-timed switch to wet tyres.
The German driver, who has yet to have his contract renewed by BMW, impressed in qualifying on Saturday when he hoisted his F1.08 onto the third row of the grid.
For a moment it looked as though it would count for nothing though as he dropped to tenth place with a scrappy start. But after clawing his way back up to seventh thanks to a long first stint, the 31-year-old was poised to take full advantage of a switch to wet tyres as the rain fell with two laps remaining.
Closely followed by Fernando Alonso who also made the switch to wets, Heidfeld then blitzed the final laps, passing the Toro Rossos as well as his team-mate, to take his fifth podium of the year.
“I had a fantastic race weekend and I am very happy today,” revelled the German afterwards. “At the start I got off better than the guys in front of me. Then I decided to go for the outside line, but unfortunately Heikki Kovalainen crashed into my car.”
“This can happen, and I was lucky my car wasn’t damaged. Of course I lost a lot of places. Later on in the race I was able to get some back, but then I got stuck in traffic. When the drizzle set in I was convinced it would be heavier on the next lap and decided to change to wet weather tyres. The team asked me if I meant what I said.”
“When I left the pit lane after the stop I asked on the radio how many laps to go, and my engineer said this one and another one. As I couldn’t see any cars on the track I thought, oh this was probably the wrong decision, but then it paid off. It was a Hero or Zero decision.”
Robert Kubica, undoubtedly the star of 2008 with multiple podiums and a win in Canada, struggled with the handling of his BMW all weekend but managed to muster sixth place, despite staying out on the dry tyres in the final laps. But the Polish sensation was far from happy with the end result.
“I am not happy with the result, as today I had the chance to finish on the podium,” rued the Pole. “We had a problem during the second pit stop. I lost two or three positions and returned to the track behind Nick.”
“When it started raining he went into the pits to change tyres. I could not do the same as it would have cost too much time because I was directly behind Nick, so it would have meant us coming into the pits together.”
“Also I had no information about the weather as I had problems with my radio. We gave away points today. However, that’s racing.”
BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen was just happy to see his cars finish after such a chaotic grand prix: “It was a turbulent race – both immediately after the start and during the final laps,” said the German. “Nick was involved in a collision in turn 1 after the turmoil at the start and, like Robert, lost some positions.”
“As a result, both cars dropped out of the points’ positions. After that the pit crew had problems connecting the nozzle during Robert’s second pit stop.”
“Finally we recovered from these problems. Nick, his race engineer and our strategists took the right decision two laps before the end of the race by changing to wet weather tyres. The team’s ninth podium and Robert’s sixth place scored us nine points. With five races to go the team has 105 points, four more than in the entire 2007 season.”
Technical director Willy Rampf added: “This was the most amazing race I have ever experienced. Up until two laps from the end everything was quite normal, but then things changed dramatically when it started raining. Nick radioed to the pits that he wanted to change tyres. He was the first driver to take this decision.”
“The pit crew reacted quickly, and from then on he was the fastest man on the track and made up many places. He finally finished third. For Robert things, unfortunately, went wrong during the second pit stop when we had a problem when refuelling, which cost him several positions. However, overall it was a very good result for our team. We scored another podium finish and a total of nine points today.”
Nick Heidfeld sent a stark reminder to his BMW employees that he is still every bit a threat to the front-runners after planting his car on the third row of the grid in Spa, keeping McLaren firmly in his sights.
The under pressure BMW Sauber driver has yet to have his contract renewed by the Hinwil and Munich based outfit, while team mate Robert Kubica has reportedly inked a one year deal to stay with the team.
But that didn’t stop Heidfeld notching up one of his best qualifying results of the year: he lapped the sweeping Spa circuit fifth quickest, only a few tenths shy of fourth place man Heikki Kovalainen.
It is only the second time this year that the Heidfeld has out-qualified his team mate, but it couldn’t have come at a more significant time as the teams look to finalise their drivers for next year.
“I’m happy with the qualifying result, and for me the weekend has gone well so far,” he reflected. “It wasn’t bad on Friday, this morning I was quickest and fifth was the best possible result in qualifying.
“For me it is very important to know the work we have done has paid off. A couple of weeks ago we found solutions to some problems, and for me this meant an improvement, but then came the race in Valencia which was surprisingly bad.”
“Then at last week’s Monza test we were able to learn something more. I have the feeling we are a little closer to McLaren and Ferrari here. However, I think in the race it will be very difficult for us to keep up with their pace.”
Robert Kubica in contrast had one of his worst performance of the year, his eighth place underlining his comparative success. The Pole has struggled with the handling of the F1.08 all weekend, and the changeable track conditions have hampered his efforts to dial in the car.
“Qualifying was difficult for me although the conditions were the best so far over the course of the weekend,” he rued. “The track was completely dry, but I have had problems with the balance of the car all weekend and I am lacking overall grip. This makes driving quite difficult, especially here in Spa where you have a lot of long corners.”
BMW Sauber’s team chiefs were generally satisfied with the result but are hoping to unleash the full potential of the F1.08 in Sunday’s race.
“I’m satisfied with today’s performance,” said BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen. “We obviously didn’t have the right basic set-up yesterday, and, with the changing weather conditions, it was not easy to get it right. However, we saw this morning we were able to make a significant step forward.”
“Nick confirmed this in qualifying with both low and high fuel loads. He is now in a strong position for the race. For Robert things were just not right this weekend, and in qualifying he wasn’t able to put in a perfect lap.”
BMW Sauber’s technical director Willy Rampf added: “Although we struggled yesterday to find the right set-up, today we managed to get both cars safely into Q3. Nick in particular has made a big step forward since yesterday and he was very strong in qualifying.”
“Robert struggled with the car’s set-up in all the practice sessions, and sector 2 was particularly difficult for him. I think we are well prepared for the race. Now we have to see what the other teams’ strategies are.”
Nick Heidfeld went quickest in the final practice session ahead of qualifying at Spa-Francorchamps.
A late dash from the BMW Sauber driver saw him edge out McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen with a 1:47.876 ahead of Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton in third and fourth.
Friday’s pace-setter Felipe Massa was fifth fastest with his under pressure team-mate Kimi Raikkonen lining up in seventh behind Sebastian Vettel.
Although the session began with a dry racing line, heavy overnight rain had washed away most of the rubber laid down on Friday, and this coupled with low track temperatures meant the drivers were battling with low grip levels.
Light rain midway through the session made the track conditions worse, but the showers soon swept away from the track as the drivers made their runs in qualifying trim.
It was a full half an hour before either a Ferrari or McLaren appeared on the track with Timo Glock emerging as the early pace-setter on a 1:50.530.
Kimi Raikkonen was the first of the front-runners to hit the track and he and slotted in sixth place, but not before tripping up on a pool of water at La Source and running wide.
Lewis Hamilton emerged from the pits with just over ten minutes to go and went quickest on the soft tyres with a 1:48.356, but a wild moment at Les Combes almost put him out of the session as he ran over the kerbing and across the gravel.
An improvement from team-mate Heikki Kovalainen, coupled with late runs from Nick Heidfeld and Fernando Alonso in the dying minutes dropped the British ace to fourth at the close.
Toro Rosso’s Sebastian Vettel split the Ferraris with sixth place while Nico Rosberg and Nelson Piquet, who had vied for the top spot in the early part of the session, dropped to eighth and ninth.
Mark Webber completes the top ten for Red Bull Racing.
Under pressure driver Nick Heidfeld went quickest on the second day of testing at Monza sending a stark message of intent to BMW Sauber’s senior management. But the real test will come today on the third and final day of running in the Ardenne, as team-mate Robert Kubica takes to the track.
Heidfeld has been struggling to match the pace of Kubica throughout 2008, and in Valencia the best he could muster was ninth, after Kubica took BMW Sauber back on to the podium in third place.
The Hinwil and Munich based outfit have yet to renew Heidfeld’s contract which expires at the end of the year. Kubica, on the hand, is widely believed to have inked a deal to stay at the team for 2009.
Heidfeld’s 1:22.621 around the Monza circuit yesterday which put him on the top of the timesheets will no doubt be seen as a response to BMW Sauber’s implicit hurry up call.
It remains to be seen how his time will fare up against Robert Kubica who takes to the track for BMW Sauber today, working on setup for the low downforce demands of Spa and Monza.
At the end of day two, Heidfeld wound up two tenths clear of William’s Nico Rosberg who was followed by Heikki Kovalainen and Sebastian Vettel.
“Today Nick Heidfeld concentrated on setup work with regards to the upcoming Italian Grand Prix,” said BMW Sauber in a statement.
“Working on the low down force configuration for the Monza race the team tried different aerodynamic solutions.”
“Running without major technical problems Heidfeld also sampled the tyre options for the Italian Grand Prix. Again the team made good progress concluding Heidfeld s part of the Monza test.”
Monday’s pace-setter Felipe Massa ended the day fifth after spinning into the gravel at the Ascari chicane.
Heidfeld’s final flying lap, along with his hopes of making it into Q2, were written off when he closed up onto the gearbox of the Scuderia Toro Rosso driver on his final flying lap and ran wide on the final corner.
The German made his frustration clear as he waved angrily at the Frenchman down the start-finish straight. Heidfeld, who was forced to settle for sixteenth place is promoted to fifteenth place, which will no doubt be little consolation for the BMW Sauber driver, while Bourdais, who progressed to Q2 and qualified fourteenth, will start the race five spots lower in nineteenth.
“I’m totally disappointed, an angry Heidfeld reflected after qualifying. “It had looked quite good at the end of yesterday’s practice and also this morning, but on my last lap in Q1 I had four cars in my way. Most of them at least tried to give me room, but it still cost me time.
“Certainly Nick’s result is disappointing,” added BMW Motorsport Director Dr Mario Theissen. “He complained several times about traffic on his last – and important – fast lap and missed getting into Q2. We should be very happy if he scores a point from this grid position.”
“For Nick it didn’t go as expected,” added the Munich and Hinwil-based concern’s technical director Willy Rampf. “He reported traffic on his last lap. For him we are facing a very difficult race tomorrow, because overtaking is almost impossible at the Hungaroring.”