Good Old St Nick Is Just Not Good Enough..
Only two seats remain open for the 2010 season in Formula 1 with the two seats belonging to new teams Campos and US F1.
Yet one experienced and talented driver has been left at the wayside even from these rookie teams, and is without a first team drive for the new season.
And I don't mean Kimi Raikkonen, as the decision for him to switch to rallying was mostly his own; he surely would have taken a drive elsewhere if passion had taken precedence.
Despite being the most experienced driver to not score a race win there is no denying the potential of German driver Nick Heidfeld. Although many will see his 2008 season at the hands of a beautifully adapted BMW as a disappointment, he is arguably more equipped to compete at the highest level than much of the current field.
I remember watching Nick in his title winning drive in his final season in Formula 3000 and recognised his skill set as one to look out for in his move to the highest tier of the motor racing world.
His debut season as Prost provided little to warrant a continuation but it was his development at Sauber that caused spectators to first take note. A credible tally of points and two top ten overall drivers championship finishes saw him transferred to a season at the failing Jordan team before the chance of greater success was offered to him.
In Heidfeld’s switch to the Williams team who would later become BMW he provided us with a glimpse of the immediate pace and capability that he held.
In his time at the team he achieved eight second place finishes, proving himself to be no fluke, and also established a record breaking run of forty-one consecutive finishes spanning from the French Grand Prix of 2007 to the Italian Grand Prix of 2009.
Even towards the end of the 2008 season when BMW collapsed spectacularly in their pace both Nick and his team mate Kubica gained a few extra points meaning Heidfeld scored in more than half of his forty-one straight finishes.
Without a race win to his name it is obvious to critics that the driver may not be the best in the world of Formula 1, but with the likes of Kovalainen retaining drives for the 2010 season it seems rather unfair that Nick be left with a probable test drive with the re-branded Mercedes Grand Prix, as opposed to a full time drive even if it had been at the hands of a weaker team.
Whether it spells the end of a career that still could have been is yet to be seen. However as previously seen with drivers relegated to test driver status it is ever the more so difficult to reclaim a starting position for follow up seasons.
Especially with the in season testing ban becoming a permanent fixture within the sport and its budget cap, Heidfeld may be left to look elsewhere for a more prominent opportunity. It would not come as a surprise if he were to look for alternative racing options outside of Formula 1, where a field of fiery and enticing opponents could still be found.
Of course with many drivers and indeed teams being challenging to predict in their pace this season Heidfeld may be able to seize a chance of any changes in driver line ups mid-season, but it is not the expectation that either himself or we as spectators should expect for such a worthy driver.
The team may have given up hope on the German but I for one am willing to believe in a man who has too much to show to be left outside of the action.
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