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Heidfeld replaces De la Rosa for Singapore // Sauber call on Nick to step in for the F1 night race

Published by Christine Blachford

Nick's heading back to Hinwill
Nick's heading back to HinwillCredit: Mercedes GP

It was a bit of a surprise to see Nick Heidfeld make the move from Mercedes test driver to working with Pirelli on next year's tyres. It is less of a surprise to find him back on the F1 grid again - this time with his old team BMW Sauber. Heidfeld will replace Pedro de la Rosa for the Singapore Grand Prix and onwards for the rest of the season.

A few quotes from all involved - Pedro is gracious, but I suspect a little broken by the news:

I am surprised by the team's decision, but I respect it and would like to wish everyone good luck for the remainder of the season. I still intend to be in Formula 1 for 2011.

- Pedro de la Rosa

Where can he fit in the 2011 grid? Place your bets now. Meanwhile, team principal Peter Sauber says of his new signing:

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.

- Peter Sauber

Nick himself is, of course, understandably happy about the news and looking forward to proving what he can do for the rest of the season. What can he do, though? He's a strong driver, dependable and shows flashes of speed, but he has never really proven himself to be a real F1 contender, has he? What do you make of this news and where does it leave our drivers in the future?




  • ... they should have had heidi from the start....

  • And so returns the AUTOSPORT predictions bragging! I'm happy Nick is back, but it's a shame for Pedro.

  • ... they should have had heidi from the start....

    Easy to say now. Remember Pedalo brought along some much needed sponsorship for the team, so it was a good choice to have him in the car...

  • ... they should have had heidi from the start....

    Easy to say now. Remember Pedalo brought along some much needed sponsorship for the team, so it was a good choice to have him in the car...

    Heidfeld was more interested in Mercedes at the time.

  • Heidfeld was more interested in Mercedes at the time.

    Probably thought he'd get a drive there until Darth came along

  • Probably thought he'd get a drive there until Darth came along

    It would be interesting to see him beat schumi at Singapore.

    Now that would be ironic.

  • It seems Peter has a habit of rehiring previous drivers. He hired Wendlinger twice, Frentzen twice, Massa twice, and now Heidfeld thrice.

    I like this move from Peter - I think Nick will be a much tougher teammate for Kobayashi-san to beat. It'll certainly egg him on for the remainder of the season. That said, I wonder if Nick has any chance of hanging on to this seat for 2011. He'll need to make major impressions to get a 2011 seat.

  • This is good. Very good. Am very happy indeed.

    Agreeing with Journeyer here, now it shows if Kobayashi is the greatest thing to come from Japan since sushi, or Pedro de la Rosa was actually really poor.

    I think Nick has an excellent chance of being the second driver at Sauber next season as well now. I think dropping de la Rosa now instead at the end of the season might mean he wants Nick to get back into the flow of F1 before full time next season, perhaps.

    Also shows Peter still wants to get the most from this season too. I think with James Key and the experience of Nick and the youthfulness of Kamui we could be the best of the midfield teams.

    Ah damn you Peter Sauber, you are bringing up my expectations again, and we all know what happened last time.

  • Maybe Sauber made loads of money like Brawn apparently did...

  • Maybe Sauber made loads of money like Brawn apparently did...

    As in getting a lot of money from BMW to last the season? Thats what I think Joe has said...

  • Maybe Sauber made loads of money like Brawn apparently did...

    As in getting a lot of money from BMW to last the season? Thats what I think Joe has said...

    See the link I posted in the daily. It is possible Sauber are in the black and just need a sponsor. Which I think is why Nick is there - perhaps to help get a Mercedes deal.

  • Which I think is why Nick is there - perhaps to help get a Mercedes deal.

    Given that Sauber and Mercedes have a LOT of history (Sauber did get into F1 partly because of them), it's certainly possible. But why would Mercedes pay Sauber to get Nick? It's not like they need to keep him on their payroll.

  • Which I think is why Nick is there - perhaps to help get a Mercedes deal.

    Given that Sauber and Mercedes have a LOT of history (Sauber did get into F1 partly because of them), it's certainly possible. But why would Mercedes pay Sauber to get Nick? It's not like they need to keep him on their payroll.

    I was thinking because Nick is German it might curry favour with Mercedes. But there seems to be an equally good argument that this is only a temporary move before Sauber get Pastor Maldonado and all that lovely PDVSA cash as a sponsor next year.

    And if that comes true I will say 'as predicted...' ;)

  • I was thinking because Nick is German it might curry favour with Mercedes.

    Sauber have a decent deal with Ferrari anyway I think, so no need to change I wouldn't think? At least, why move from Ferrari to Mercedes? I think Pastor will get in for 2011, but I wouldn't mind if it was Nick or him in next with Kamui.

  • Welcome to Sauber, Mr development driver!

    I honestly think this is how Peter is going to run the team, One development driver and Kobayashi for the next few years until testing restarts or he can get a driver who can do both. Either way I expect Sauber to pass Force India in total points next year with their newly acquired tyre knowledge.

  • Congratulations to Nick! I think this is for the best. Sauber needs someone who can lead the team, not just approximate their rising star's pace. In Nick I see someone who can quietly do that - hardly surprising considering he's done it a few times in the past ;)

    Pedro's response to his removal is great to read. Few people would have been that classy under the circumstances.

    I can't see how Mercedes would be going to Sauber as they already have three good stable teams in their stable. The Ferraris are fine when they stay in one piece.

  • Welcome home, Nick.

    It seems odd that whenever he is in a bit of career difficulty he winds up at Sauber but I think he and they work well together, it'll be interesting to see the performance difference going forward - it might take a race to 'bed in' but after that I expect him to run ahead of Kamui, which Pedro has not been doing. Even so, while PDLR has definitely been underperforming I never thought he'd be replaced midseason. Surely that's his F1 career over?

  • I really don't understand this change. It makes no sense at all to me. If they think Pedro is not fast enough would it not have made more sense to put Nick in for a couple of races before commiting to Kobayashi. What happens if Nick gets in and blows him away from day one.

    I would have assumed that the Pirelli contract would not allow a driver to race in F1 this year so that there is no conflict on interest.

    Conspiracy theory time

    Schumacher is retiring and Nick is going to replace him. Nick has tested the tyres so has a slight advantage and Mercedes want him to be race sharp so they offer Sauber a massive discount on their engines for next season in return for giving Nick a drive.

  • Remember that Pedao took a penalty for using the "ninth" engine at Spa. Nick will inherit the legacy of having used all of the engines plus one so it will be difficult at some point not to also have grid penalty. Kobi has used seven engines so still has a fresh engine option. Of the front contenders Alonso has no fresh engines and Webber has two fresh engines the rest one each.

    @Steven Sauber must concerns on the engine reliability front. True that even further back Sauber used Mercedes engines.

  • Sauber ran the Merc sportscar program and the Sauber team originally was going to be the factory Merc F1 team

  • I worry about Sauber as it is not obvious what their economic model is to keep them afloat. This obviously influences what engines can be used and the drivers they will employ. Personally Kobe and Nick seem good a pairing but I do feel sorry for a driver being dumped mid season. If Sauber intend to also extend Nick's contract next year there is sense in the arrangement, otherwise it seems to be a bit of a marriage of desperation (Nick desperate for a drive and Sauber desperate to win points and more importantly the prize monies associated). If Nick can score enough points they might not need to have a paid Mexican or South American rookie next year. It seems the discussion to get Nick went back to Silverstone.

    The silver lining to this slightly dark cloud is the car has improved through the season and somewhat strangely after James Key arrived. I know almost nothing about the guy except he was Takuma Sato's race engine and before going to Sauber was at Force India back to its Jordan days and he is a rather young technical director (33 years old).

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