Should Heidfeld be allowed to race next season? (Poll)

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Nick Heidfeld

Pirelli has begun testing its new tyres at Mugello ahead of its return to Formula One for the 2011 season.

Nick Heidfeld has been released by Mercedes to test for Pirelli but should he be allowed to drive for another team next season, given his access and influence?

It?s a given that Heidfeld will have access to a huge amount of information by working for Pirelli.

As far as I’m aware there’s no precedent for this in F1 ?ǣ Pirelli is the first new tyre supplier to be appointed under the sole supplier rules and thus the first to need to do this kind of testing.

The plan

Heidfeld will drive Toyota?s TF109 in a series of test sessions on different circuits to develop the new Pirelli Pzero F1 tyre. The development work will focus on balancing performance, durability and bringing ??excitement and close racing to the fans??.

The teams will be given the opportunity to test the tyres for themselves in November, after the end of this season.

Pirelli?s Motorsport Director Paul Hembery said: ??We?re delighted to welcome Nick into the Pirelli family, and we?re confident that he?ll do a great job for us.”

The role of test driver is a crucial one, so we were looking for a driver who had plenty of recent Formula One experience, the speed to push our new tyres as hard as possible, and the consistency to provide reliable simulations, as well as the analytical skills to relay information accurately to our engineers. Nick fits the bill in every respect and we?re very pleased to have secured his services.

As for the car, we have a policy of complete impartiality, so we did not want to favour any existing team. The Toyota was the perfect solution, as it is a contemporary racing machine with proven speed and reliability but without links to any of the manufacturers currently competing in Formula One.

I?m confident that we have an extremely good package that will give us every opportunity to maximise the potential of our tyres prior to the start of next season.
Paul Hembery

Heidfeld added: ??It?s a great privilege for me to join Pirelli in order to carry out this vital work. Through the experience I have built up over the years, I?m confident that I will be able to provide Pirelli with some important feedback regarding the development of next year?s tyres.

??I?ve got a lot to give but I haven?t been driving so much this year, so I can?t wait to get started! Together, I?m sure that we can create a dynamic range of tyres that will make Formula One an even more exciting sport in the future.??


Heidfeld has always been a strong driver and if the ban on testing remains next season, his experience will make him an appealing choice for many teams.

Vice-President of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Norbert Haug has said:

It was clear from the beginning of our cooperation that Mercedes GP would release Nick from his obligations as soon as a promising opportunity as an active Formula One driver developed. This is now the case and there could be no more experienced and knowledgeable driver in the cockpit to
steer the tyre development for next season.

It would be great to see Nick in a competitive car in next year’s Formula One World Championship and I am sure his leading role in the new tyre development, in addition to his skills, puts Nick in a good position for the remaining seats in 2011.
Norbert Haug


It?s a given that Heidfeld will have the opportunity and means to influence Pirelli?s development. His inside information would be a great asset to any team and if abused, could be detrimental to the rest of the field.

I say

As Michael Schumacher has shown this year, understanding how to get the best from your tyres is crucial but don?t think Heidfeld will be anything other than a reserve driver next season.

I think this argument is a bit of a red herring. His information will be useful to many teams but it?s unlikely it will be enough to gain him a racing seat.

You say

Should Heidfeld be allowed to drive for a Formula One team next season? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Should Heidfeld be allowed to drive for a Formula One team next season?

  • No opinion (5%)
  • No (15%)
  • Yes (80%)

Total Voters: 2,217

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  • 116 comments on “Should Heidfeld be allowed to race next season? (Poll)”

    1. He has tested the new tyres but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be allowed back in F1. That’s like saying “Sorry Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber can’t do qualifying anymore because there car is faster and they have an advantage over everyone else.”

      1. exactly. Or in another register at the beginning of the season : “Schumi and Rubens have driven on slicks already, they shouldn’t be allowed in”

      2. That’s a failed analogy, Calum. FAILED big time.

        I remember 1998, when the grooved tyres were introduced. It took a long time for some drivers to get to grips with them. Some drivers had to change their driving style to suit the tyres. The others didn’t have to – and they were at an obvious advantage.

        It’s clear that the Pirelli tyres will suit Heidfeld perfectly (doh!, better than any other driver.
        This will be a huge advantage for Heidfeld over anybody, which goes beyond the man vs. man and car vs. car rivalry.

        1. This isn’t as drastic as the groove tyre change.

          It won’t be a ‘huge advantage’ at all.

          1. I don’t think Heidfeld is the type to dubiously develop a tire to his own taste.

            you have to remember the the tire is being developed on a 2010 spec Toyota. in 2011 the cars will be somewhat different (new wings, Kers etc), and every driver will have to adapt to his package, the tire being one of the variables. So, I don’t think it gives Heidfeld a superior advantage over anyone else to be honest. it only gives him a benefit of knowing how the tires will behave, that is something that the rest of the field will be on par with by the end of the pre-season tests.

            1. Heidfeld has been out of a car for a year, and there can be no doubt that the cars have changed a lot.

              So any gain he has from the tyres, will be countered by that year.

            2. Correction, Toyota’s 2009 spec car is being used. which is even more different than the 2010 cars and the 2011 single seaters that will drive on Pirellis.

            3. It does seem a little odd that they have him in the 2009 Toyota. I would think he’d take a short time at least to get used to that particular car, since it’s not one he drove in competition, making it difficult to give very constructive feedback right off the bat. Of course I suppose if they are doing lots of tire changes and back to back comparisons then that should allow him to provide more comparison. I wonder how many race distances they’ll have him put in. It seems that that would be crucial, but physically difficult for one driver to do multiple long stints in a day, or multiple days of race distances…

        2. It’s not really.

          I remember in 2009 when the Brawn GP001 was introduced.

          One driver was able to drive it with his original style and scored lot’s of wins early on, this was against the driver who had previously driven on slicks! Both had the same car and if the tyre advantage was true then Barrichello would have won ;)

      3. great answer it is non sense to ask this question

    2. Allowed? Yes
      Should he? No

      I don’t see Nick Midfield getting a drive next year, I wasn’t sorry to see him go and I’d much rather a team take a chance on some new up and comer than Hiedfeld. He’s always been bland.
      But he shouldn’t be banned from driving next year if one team is stupid enough to want him and his German passport.

      1. Comment of the day! I think the same thing.

      2. he seems bland, and this perception seems to blight his career, BUT he certainly wasnt a slouch at BMW compared to his very highly rated team mate.
        Its a shame but i dont think there is a seat out there for him in the near future……..but if PDLR can make a comeback then there is still hope for quick nick

        1. “he certainly wasn’t a slouch at BMW compared to his very highly rated team mate.”

          Are you referring to Vilenueve? ;)

        2. BMW kneecaped Kubica’s title charge in 08 to help Heidfeld warm his tyres up… Not what I’d call keeping up with your team-mate, just the German paymasters calling the shots…

      3. I think Sauber are the most likely to hire him. PS has that policy of one experienced driver and one up and comer. How safe is De La Rosa’s seat?

    3. I’ve never liked Heidfeld. I think he’s the most overrated driver on the grid. And the fans always seemed to have a double-standards approach: if one driver failed to perform, it was their fault – but if Heidfeld disappointed, it was because the teams shafted him. He’s had a ten-year career, which is more than most drivers get. He doesn’t bring anything to the sport that no-one else can deliver, and his intimate knowledge of the Pirellis for next season will simply offer him an unfair advantage.

      1. Maybe the new team (if there will be one at all) should take him.
        It will not be an unfair advantage, as they will have a whole mountain of experience to climb before they get close to the level of the current teams (both old school and 2010 entrants).
        That would make sense, but it would mean they have less possibility to get money from sponsers by offering a drive.

        1. Heidfeld has already said that he’s not interested in a return to racing unless he can drive for a competitive team.

          1. Exactly, so therefore he will not get the drive next year (nor the years thereafter).

      2. I totally agree. “Quick Nick”?! Don’t make me larf.

    4. Pablo2008jedi
      18th August 2010, 8:33

      I don’t see a problem, he’s driving a ’09 car, can development of ’11 cars will have already started. Unless he’s alread talking to a team about the new tyres (which I would assume is a breach of contract), then there should be no issues. ’09 cars handle diffently to ’10 and more so probably with ’11 cars. The real test of the tyres will come in November I think, when every team gets to try them out.

      1. No, he’s driving a 2010 spec car built for the current season. The 2011 cars will be very similar and run the same size tyres.
        It will be a fair advantage as Nick feeds his info to the Mercedes works team over the next few months or even has Pirelli develop the tyres with one eye on how Mercedes want them.

        Nick will now be on the Mercedes unofficial payroll. If not then Mercedes have definitely missed a trick.

        1. no he’s driving the TF109… a 2009 spec car with 2010/2011 spec tyres.

        2. No, It’s the 2009 Toyota.
          I think Mercedes is letting him go to avoid people labelling them as cheats, as you have, with very little reason behind the accusation.

          1. Some of the tests may overlap with GP weekends. He can’t be in 2 places at once.

            1. ….. I hate logic.

    5. I think Nick should be allowed to have a shot at a racing seat next year.
      BUT the first question mark to that is, weather Pirelli wont want to keep him for next year as well. After the first tests and races, they will have some feedback from the teams, but without any further testing they will not be able to improve the tyres much. So maybe testing with that car during next season will be usefull as well.
      Second, there are not that many seats available for Nick. Renault is a done deal with Petrov or Sutil or even one of the guys from DAMS. Force India might be, but they have Liuzzi and Sutil, even is Sutil goes to Renault and/or Di Resta takes a testing role with Mercedes (unlikely, if he can get a race drive at FI) they will most likely not take Nick.
      Sauber does not want Nick. Virgin already has Glock, they will want to keep DiGrassi or go with a new prospect bringing some cash. Lotus is full, so the only teams might be HRT and a new team. HRT needs money from the drivers, maybe the new team would be interested, but it would probalby need money for the drive as well.

      1. And add to that, if they do indeed move to 18 rim tires in a few years, they will definitely need to do a lot of testing with that too – and sort of develop a “template” car to test the suspension, and maybe help the technical committee formulate what is, and what is not, allowed for this suspension. Nick might be off best to help with that.

    6. “The Toyota was the perfect solution, as it is a contemporary racing machine with proven speed and reliability but without links to any of the manufacturers currently competing in Formula One”

      What was the deal with HRT + Toyota then, was it not for their chassis from last year, I cannot remember?

      1. The deal between HRT and Toyota will probably be about the designs of the TF110, the car Toyota designed for this year.

        1. But Ben has a point, as the press releases state, that Toyota personell will be running the car and take data from it to look at it before handing it to Pirelli (probably to add comparisons to the original Bridgestone tyres).

          That would mean the Toyota team running the car will have some level of inside information which they might be able to use for developing a 2011 car for HRT.

          That said, the deal with HRT and Toyota was announced, but from comments by Senna last week it’s no done deal yet.

          1. It’s probably not a done deal because HRT’s financial future is in total jeopardy (if you believe Bernie).

            1. And it’s not like HRT are suddenly going to be worldbeaters.

              Remember in 2006 when Toro Rosso had the so-called “unfair” advantage of a V10 engine against the other teams’ V8s? Nothing came of it.

    7. I’d like to see Heidfeld back (bias). But after a poor 2008 season, that doesn’t seem likely. In 2009 he got his act together and he outperformed his highly rated team mate overrall. I guess as a Heidfeld fan, I can only cross my fingers.

      1. I’m a Heidfeld fan but I don’t think he had a poor 2008 season at all. He was the most consistent driver that season and perhaps the best overtaker with 4 double-overtakes, and one going up Casino Square. One small thing, his teammate was just better than him.

        I’d love to see him back in F1 because he’s very intelligent and would suit the non-refuelling era.

        1. I agree Kubica got the better of him, that doesn’t mean he isn’t a great driver, He’s been unlucky to have a car that suits him, every year where it isn’t competitive ^^.

          Much like Mika and David at Mclaren, Coulthard beat out Mika a few times, but it was never when the car was up to it.

          1. So you think that not only Heidfeld is a great driver … but Coulthard was too?

            Hilarious stuff!


            1. If your going to argue that Coulthard wasn’t a great driver, your going to lose.

        2. Heidfeld had trouble qualifying. That did lead to some “poor” results by his standards.

          What people seem to miss is that Heidfeld beat Kubica in 2 out of the 3 seasons they were together. Only in 2008 did he struggle to beat Kubica.

          Whichever way you look at it, Heidfeld underperformed in 2008.

          1. Was about to point that one out, it annoys me how quick people are to slag off Heidfeld but they never seem to notice that one!

          2. 2nd place to Hamilton in the opening round in 08 and 3 more 2nd place results, despite the lone Kubica win doesn’t sound like underperforming to me. Nick could have easily kept Robert behind him in Canada like he held up Alonso, but I’m convinced he let Kubica through for the team. Kubica winning a year on from his horrible crash made for better PR. Something Ferrari seemed oblivious to a few weeks back.

            1. True, his race performance was fine. Still, he obviously had trouble in qualifying during many events.

              Besides, “underperformed” is a relative term. He could have had better results if he had gotten his qualifying fixed.

    8. H never liked Heidfeld. Most because of those long sleeve vest shirt things he wears all the time.

    9. Of course he should. No question about it.

      By the way, recently he said DIRECTLY that Kubica is a good partner and he would be glad to drive with him again someday. Lack of racing changes minds I guess.

    10. Unbelievable.

      Let me get this straight. Some people here are actually wishing that a driver be banned for a season just for the sake of team equality? Talk about harsh.

      What law did he break to deserve such punishment?

      1. He didn’t break any law. But he will have intimate knowledge of the Pirelli tyres – knowledge that no-one else will have. I think you’re under-estimating just how thorough that knowledge will be.

        1. Even if it really is unfair, it’s quite clear that there is no room for moral decisions in Formula One. Every team will do anything to win.

          1. Oh, of course – but will Heidfeld’s knowledge of the tyres offset his distinct lack of ability to follow through? Ten years without a win is a pretty telling sign of his ability …

            1. Is it? Put him in the Red Bull and he’ll have won at least once this season, I’m sure. Put him in a Ferrari in 2002 or 2004 and he would have won for sure, too.

              Eddie freaking Irvine has many wins, and almost won the world title in 99. Any decent (see anyone but Yamamoto or Ide or Yoong) F1 driver can win, dude. They just need the car… as we’ve seen with Webber too. But of course, you’re not a fan of Webber, either, are you?


            2. Heidfeld clearly is no Vettel or Alonso, and probably should won at least once in ten years. But to fair, he has never really had a car capable of winning on merit.

              I guess we’ll see just how much Heidfeld can benefit from this testing.

            3. Is it? Put him in the Red Bull and he’ll have won at least once this season, I’m sure. Put him in a Ferrari in 2002 or 2004 and he would have won for sure, too.

              See, this is the blind double-standards that I was talking about: it’s not Heidfeld’s fault that he never won a race. Oh, no, it was the car. But for any other driver, it’s because he’s not good enough.

            4. Geez, the lenght that people go through in in their overly biased uninformed nonsense. What is it? You don’t like his beard?

              What utter nonsense. How is it a “double standard” when people say that in the fastest car Heidfeld would have won races too?

              He beat all his teammates. What more can a driver do?

              Heidfeld might not be of Hamilton and Alonso level, but he sure is of a Rosberg, Button, Massa and Kubica level.

            5. Heidfeld just hasn’t had the luck to win a race yet. The cars he drove were never up to it, including the 2008 BMW. And is anyone here thinking that drivers like Kovalainen and Trulli who were pretty lucky to win one race are that much better than Heidfeld???

            6. He beat all his teammates. What more can a driver do?

              I don’t know. How about win races? I know it’s one of those wacky, radical ideas that you never see coming, but I guess I’m just crazy dangerous like that. Beating your team-mates is small recompense for ascending the top step of the podium.

            7. PM you support Button. He was pretty much nowhere most of the time. He had one win to his name (and although he fully deserved it his win demonstrated how quickly things can swing in a race)and most people wrote him off and then he came back in the Brawn and won the title…

              It’s mostly down to the car. I’ve just watched the 05 review and it was always a Renault vs Mclaren show, noone got a look in except Ferrari in 02 and 04, 06 was mostly a Renault vs Ferrari battle bar the odd wet occassion, 07 Mclaren vs Ferrari, 08 one BMW and one STR in the mix.

              Heidfeld managed some great results when the likes of Ferrari dominated. Noone is saying he’s a driving God but the fact he survuved for so long in an impatient sport shows he had talent or he’d have been dropped like a hot potatoe. He got into fightd with Alo at France and Bahrain in 07 in a vastly inferior car, he mostly trumped his teammates and he got some brilliant podium finishes.

            8. Winning races depends on the car you get and/or the luck you are dealt (ie Panis winning at Monaco).

              Beating your teammate is what shows the skill of the driver.

              I’m amazed that people who frequent f1fantic this often still don’t understand that fundamental fact of F1.

            9. PM, I usually agree with your comments, but not in this case. I don’t mind anyone being biased for or against a certain driver, but to say Heidfeld doesn’t deserve a seat is nonsense. He deserves a seat more than half of the current field does. Do you really think Kubica would have had a chance at winning in Canada in 08 had Hamilton not taken himself and Kimi out of the race? Massa had his own problems that race and Heikki, like usual was no where. Heikki has a race win, does that make him better than Nick? Heikki merely inherited his win after a dominant Massa’s engine let go in the final laps. Nick has more podiums, more points, more 2nd place finished than any other non winning driver in F1 history. Surely then he deserves a seat. If you don’t like the guy that’s fine, but don’t write him off just yet.

            10. Nick really is one of the drivers who should have but didn’t, Like Gilles and his championship or lack there of, Heidfeld has his win.

            11. Chris Amon never won a race. Your argument is invalid.

            12. Nick has never had a problem with Robert. In fact he is on record for saying Robert arriving made him raise his game. They did have a coming together on the track but that is always a chance when you have two evenly match drivers. In 2008 Nick had two fastest laps to his name (when this meant something) and pulled some stunning overtaking. Nick was no more off the pace of Robert than Kimi was off the pace of Felipe during 2008.