Nick Heidfeld replaces Pedro de la Rosa at Sauber for final five races

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Nick Heidfeld, Sauber, 2010

Nick Heidfeld will make his return to Formula 1 at the Singapore Grand Prix next week.

The German driver will take Pedro de la Rosa’s place at Sauber.

Heidfeld returns to the team he drove for from 2001-2003, and from 2006 to 2009 when it was owned by BMW. He has made a total of 120 race appearances for them.

In a statement released by the team Peter Sauber said:

It was a hard decision for me to make as a team principal and I want to thank Pedro for his professionalism. By signing Nick we have a driver we know extremely well who will help us to further judge the comparative potential of our car.

Heidfeld, who has recently been conducting tyre testing for Pirelli, said:

I?m looking forward like crazy to having the opportunity to go racing again in a good car in Formula One from the Singapore Grand Prix onwards.

After the last months I?m even more motivated than ever. For me it is like coming home, as I raced for seven years in total for the team from Hinwil. Without doubt I will be feeling at home straight away and this should help me to familiarise myself as soon as possible with the car. I want to thank Peter Sauber for the faith he has put in me.

In 14 starts for Sauber this year de la Rosa scored six points, 15 fewer than rookie team mate Kamui Kobayashi.

But he retired from more than a third of his starts with mechanical problems, one of which struck while he was running fourth at Shanghai.

Update: Pirelli aren’t confirming whether Heidfeld will be replaced as their test driver, but said he’s “doing a great job with us also right now in Jerez”.

Read more: Nick Heidfeld biography

Image ?? BMW Sauber F1 Team

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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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145 comments on “Nick Heidfeld replaces Pedro de la Rosa at Sauber for final five races”

  1. Great News! welcome back Nick!

  2. Nice to see Nick is back. Hope Kimi comes back for next year :)

    1. me too I still remember to watch Heidfeld and Raikkonen at Sauber 2001 and Raikkonen saying that he was expecting a top 10 qually at his maiden gp

      1. Despite the bad luck De La Rosa was never a top driver being beatten by a rookie shows that Kobayashi is good but hes not that great

        1. It shows that he’s good, but doesn’t show that he’s great – it’s far too early to tell whether he’s great, that’s a long term quality. :P

      2. Nick and Kimi at Sauber would be so sweet…

        1. Kimi would NEVER go to Sauber. 1) Not enough money. 2) Too uncompetitive. He’s not going to Renault either

    2. rumor has it that kimi has already contacted renault..

  3. I must say I’m a little surprised, but I can’t wait to hear what Prisoner Monkeys has to say ;)

    1. I am just as suprised. It might be worth the wait for PMs comments!

    2. Exactly what I said over at Adam Cooper’s blog:

      I can’t see Heidfeld as being a long-term prospect. I’ve always felt he’s highly-overrated, yet he’s developed almost a cult following. I’ve always thought it’s pretty telling that even though he’s beated just about every team mate that could be thrown at him, those team mates have moved up in the world whilst Heidfeld has remained static. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sauber take on Pastor Maldonado or Sergio Perez for 2011 and that the Sauber C30 runs a PDVSA or Telmex livery …

      1. I must say i agree on that longer term prospects with Sauber.

        It might just be, that Pedro was disappointing, Nick available for small change and willing to show something to get a drive for next year with someone and bringing some ideas for development of next years car.
        Who knows maybe even Sauber is looking at going for Mercedes engines.
        For next year i do expect Sauber to have serious look at those guys you mention.

      2. It’s pretty telling though that you agree he’s beaten almost every team-mate he had. Heidfeld is a very good driver, better than PDLR for sure. He’s not the best in the world but you proved by your own words here I think, that claiming he’s overrated is too harsh.

      3. I think Heidfeld is an asset especially to teams who want to develop their 2011 cars. I believe there might be an agreement between Sauber and Heidfeld for the latter one to stay in 2011.

        If Sauber hired Heidfeld to develop their next car, I don’t see them getting rid of him at the end of the season after he shares his knowledge about the new tires.

        1. Actually, Heidfeld has only done one or two tests of the Pirellis. He’s gathered preliminary data, which will be sent back to Pirelli, who will in turn modify their tyres accordingly. Whatever data Heidfeld has access to is useless because the final product will be so different to the one he tested. That’s why Heidfeld’s contract with pirelli is believed to have stated that he cannot be affiliated with a team in 2011, because by that time Pirelli will have finished their tyres and Heidfeld would have tested the final product. As the tyres are only in the build stage, there is no advantage gained.

          1. “That’s why Heidfeld’s contract with pirelli is believed to have stated that he cannot be affiliated with a team in 2011”

            Would that also be the case for Schumacher?

            If I were Schumi, I’d be abandoning this season, getting some track time on those Pirellis and preparing for 2011 in the best way possible.

          2. Any driver who tests the Pirellis would be unable to compete in 2011. Largely because that knowledge of the tyres could be used to construct a more competitive car. It’s not like the teams will test through the summer on Bridgestones and be given the Pirellis when they arrive in Bahrain – all of the summer tests will be done on Pirelli tyres. There’s more than enough time for Schumacher (and for every other driver on the grid) to get experience on them.

          3. There is not a chance that the Pirelli contract excluded 2011 drive. Not one.

            That is the only reason any driver would take the testing gig, to get a leg up on your 2011 race-seat rivals.

            The idea that Heidfeld would walk away from Mercedes, with question marks over Schumacher, to do anonymous donkey laps for a tyre company, and make himself unemployed for 2011 is crazy talk.

          4. This is starting to be an intereting development. I also thought, the Pirelli test job and a role as driver/tester for a team is mutually exclusive at least for 2010 and believed this to possible extend to 2011 as well.
            But Pirelli seems to be wanting to keep running Nick ( so something doesn’t fit.

            It may be that either the teams would be a lot more reluctant to let the Mercedes tester do Pirelli work (and not mind relative backmarker Sauber) or that Nicks management actually used this opportunity to get out of his Mercedes deal to get a drive at Sauber.

          5. There is not a chance that the Pirelli contract excluded 2011 drive. Not one.

            It’s more to do with being associated with a team over the summer break. Basically, any team that the Pirelli tester joined would have access to data on the tyres before the tyres were actually sent out, enabling them to build a better car. By the time the season begins, the teams will all have their tyres and will have conducted every pre-season test on them. Whatever advantage Heidfeld would have would be negated.

  4. Err, why? Seriously why? Money?

    1. maybe because nick is a better driver…

    2. Pedro did not really convince with his driving, although in Qualifying he was doing OK compared to Kobayashi and reliability did not help.

      Heidfeld knows the team, has inside knowledge of the Pirelli tyres and is only a few months out of racing. And his salary demands will look differently than half a year ago.
      Does not sound too bad a deal for Peter Sauber.

    3. Because Heidfeld of the next five races, Heidfeld knows four of them. De la Rosa only knows two.

      1. Are you having a laugh, or do you not agree with the driver change?

        1. Sorry, I’d meant to type one thing, then changed my mind and didn’t clear it properly. My point is that there are five races left on the calendar: Singapore, Suzuka, Korea, Interlagos and Abu Dhabi. Of those five, nobody knows Korea, since it’s a new race. Nick Heidfeld has raced at the other four venues, but both Singapore and Yas Island will be new territory for de la Rosa. Given that de la Rosa has only scored six of Sauber’s points and the team is just twenty adrift of Williams, there’s a good chance that Sauber can catch Sir Frank’s boys. Heidfeld’s knowledge of those circuits and his reputation for beating team-mates means that Sauber stand a better chance with him than with de la Rosa.

          1. There is a chance for Sauber to catch Williams. But I don’t see that as a big chance, as Williams have progressed quite nicely as well over the past few races and their rookie has started turning in more and more consistent performences, like for example picking up the slack in an off-weekend for Barichello. The chance for Sauber to catch up is there, but it’s a slim one imho and not really worth sacrificing a driver for unless that driver was already second choice anyway. And that’s kinda what I think of de la Rosa’s position.

          2. I actually think there is a better chance of over taking Force India than there is overtaking Williams

          3. They may have no chance at all, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try.

  5. About Kimi, I just read he has contacted Renault, imagine if Renault has a good car for 2011 and Kubica and Kimi as their drivers… Now that would be a truly formidable combination for F1!! :D

    1. I think kimi will get the renault seat. Renault will then do a deal with lotus to have petrov and have renaults engines. allowing kimi the free seat at renault.

      1. Are the driving styles of kubica and kimi similar? (understeer/oversteer). If not, I think it might be risky.

        1. At least they both like Rallying!

          But seriously i don’t see Kimi stopping with WRC now, he has learnt a lot and might just be talking about the money for next year with Citroen.
          Wouldn’t it be nice to put a bit of pressure on them by courting with their Frensh rivals then?

        2. they both like oversteer, but Kubica is a lot harder on his car

          1. Wrong. I think it’s pretty common that Kubica likes an understeery car, in a way his style has much more in common with Alonso than Kimi or Hamilton. So it could be a problem for them.

          2. Pretty common KNOWLEDGE. Sorry for the missed word.

      2. Kimi’s not coming back, he’s probably having way too much fun in WRC.

        1. BRING KIMI BACK!!

          That would be good fun, Kimi and Kubica in the same team, the engineers will never understand a word they say!

          I think its fairly realistic for Kimi to set up shop in Renault, he’ll do it for the fun of it.

          Good to see good ol Quick Nick back in the sport. He’s sort of failed to live up to his early hype but he’s a solid driver to have in a team. Mr Consistency he is, always brings the car home. It will be a good mix, the crazy no fear antics of Kobayashi with the calm and collected Heidfeld.

          De la Rosa has had a bad year, he’s been outshone by his outstanding rookie team mate, and for once, PM makes a sensible point about Nick knowing the tracks that are coming up…might workout for Peter Sauber this one.

          1. always brings the car home.

            Unless Sutil is doing a five point turn in the middle of a blind corner as happened in Singapore last year…

        2. I wouldn’t be overly surprised to see him back.

          I know he’s all about the driving, but I’m sure he misses the F1 circus (although, not the press part of it of course). The guy likes to party.

          1. The fact is none of us know if Kimi is coming back next year, or if he’ll never come back. He may well have contacted Renault, but to be honest people have been throwing various rumours about for ages now.

            As for the article matter, I love both Pedro and Nick but sadly the former has been disappointing this year, and that’s when his car has actually worked. For the hwole of the second half of the season he hasn’t seemed as into it either, especially after that article about offering to test drive for teams next year. Or at least implying.

            Heidfeld and Kobayashi though… what a likeable combo eh? =)

  6. yeah this really is good news, grats Nick!

  7. So does this mean pedro will return to his role as test driver for mclaren? And will Nick continue to test the Pirelli tyres??

    1. Or maybe they exchanged roles, Pedro is said to be an excellent test driver :-)

      1. After Pirelli stated it wanted to keep Nick yesterday, it seems they have spoken about it with him (and possibly with the teams as well) and now agreed, that this weeks Jerez test will be the end of his testing for them. see

        That opens up the possibility of Pedro singing with Pirelli, which would be a very good deal for both.
        Pirelli gets the best tester save Schumi, who has 3/4th of a year running the fuel heavy cars and Pedro gets to drive a car and have as good a position as he can get to secure a drive for 2011.

    2. Pedro himself is still having a go at securing a drive for next year.

      And i suppose the HRT being said to like the idea is a nice prospective for him.

      It would make sense, they take on a good driver for the development (like Klien showed after only 1 day driving, a lot of their lack of speed was in small things) and a driver for the future in Senna.

  8. Welcome back Nick. You always deserved to be racing in F1.

  9. Feel sorry for PDL. I believe he will be welcome back at McLaren for next year alongside paffet.

    Happy for Heidfield, how drole would it be, him beating Schumacher in an inferior (well, is it now?) car.

    1. I feel sorry for de la Rosa too, even if he hasn’t impressed he had a contract and I don’t like when drivers gets replaced mid-season. Having that said, I’m glad it’s Heidfeld who replaces him. I think he’s going to beat Kobayashi in the next few races.

      1. Yeah, much as I like Kobayashi I think Heidfeld will be a good revealer of where the rookie stands. Nick when properly motivated gave Kubica all he could handle, and Kamui is still learning. It should be interesting.

  10. yey! good news! HEI and KOB, good combination.

  11. Hope you have the option to play him in the F1 2010 game.

    1. Doubtful.
      Its out in 2 weeks.

    2. You won’t. The drivers have been programmed with individual AI psudeo-models (not actual AI models, but coding unique to each car designed to simulate a driver’s strengths and weaknesses, giving them personalities without needing to create a separate, complex code). Programming AI behaviour is about as difficult as it gets in video game programming, and with F1 2010 just ten days from release, there’s simply not enough time. And it’s not like Codemasters could delay the game for the sake of getting Heidfeld in there – with ten days left, the game is being mass-produced before being shipped out to distributors and then on to game stores.

      1. Indeed, most certainly no time for adding content now. But it might be nice if they added him in a later content patch, just for the sake of completeness.

      2. Maybe in a DLC ?
        BTW, I wonder if they had time to put Yamamoto in the game

        1. I believe that the game includes the original 24 drivers for the 2010 season, so that would mean Chandhok and de la Rosa, not Yamamoto and Heidfeld.

          1. De la Rosa has done more races than Heidfeld will, so it makes more sense to include him.

        2. Modeling Yamamotos spin dynamics would test even a cray supercomputer!

        3. Maybe in a DLC ?

          It has been confirmed that F1 2010 will not have downloadable content. Codemasters don’t include it in any of their games – and they’re notorious in the gaming industry for making their games difficult so to mod that nobody bothers.

          Even if they did go for DLC, there’s more important things that could be included than one driver change. Like versions of the New Delhi and Austin circuits, or historic Formula 1 cars.

          1. Or maybe the Korean track like it really will be, i.e. without the green, grandstands etc. and sporting some nice building equipment around the track!

          2. We still don’t really know what the Korean track will really be. I’d be surprised if the owners of the track do even.

      3. That’s it. I’m not buying the game. I was only gonna buy it to play Yamamoto, and now my dream has been crushed.

    3. Not only its too late but there licensing problems and programing, texture and modelling this type of changes only could made back in may cause its probably one of the first things done