Sauber’s big news this week concerning their new 2011 driver and sponsor had many wondering what happened with Nick Heidfeld? The German took over driving duties from Pedro de la Rosa for the final five races and many assumed he would be the de facto driver for 2011. This, unfortunately for Heidfeld, isn’t the case.
Heidfeld has been a staple item at Sauber for many years and has a rich history with the Swiss-based team in Hinwill. But that familial relationship wasn’t enough to secure a ride for 2011. That opportunity had a price tag and Mexican telecom giant Carlos Slim had the cash and Mexican driver for the seat.
One could forgive Heidfeld for feeling cast out or thrown to the wolves but he has taken a completely different approach to the news:
“I didn’t know about it before I signed,” the German said.
“Obviously I knew there were things going on in the background… actually I didn’t complain, quite the opposite I congratulated him (team boss Peter Sauber) because it’s great news for the team, Formula One and especially the guys in Hinwil.
“I am very happy for them that they continue with a big Mexican partner, hopefully it secures the future and gives them the possibility to move further up (the standings) again.
“It’s not so good for me, obviously,” added Heidfeld.
“It’s one place less but it’s not a place that I took for granted. Some people might look at it, at least from what I’ve seen in the news, like I just came back and now have been kicked out again but that’s not how it feels for me.”
With no opportunity at Sauber, what lies ahead for the veteran of 171 F1 races?
“I think it will happen but until it is signed you can never be sure,” he said.
“We are doing our best and it is looking positive, definitely… Obviously there is one seat less now but I think I am in a good position with the other teams remaining which still have a seat to offer.”
There are new teams such as Virgin Racing, HRT and Lotus as well as the much rumored seat at Renault that could be an option for the German. As a Heidfeld fan, I’d like to see him in the seat but there aren’t many teams left that can afford to pay and I suggest that Nick would be paying for a drive or driving for free in F1. Perhaps Le Mans or ALMS would be a better fit?