Heidfeld Signs For Pirelli

17 Aug

Yes that’s right. The biggest move of this years driver market so far and its a tyre manufacturer who has made the move. Nick Heidfeld is now the official development driver for the Pirelli F1 programme. The big question is, why?

Now Nick Heidfeld is a top driver with a lot of experience, maybe he is using this opportunity to further his CV in his quest to find a drive for 2011, although whether he is allowed to drive next year hasn’t been confirmed. These tests presents the opportunity to keep his reflexes in shape should a return to F1 next year become a possibility. The fact that he has helped in the development of these tyres will only further enhance his stock for a prospective team. Renault have been linked with him in recent weeks.

But then there is the fact that Mercedes let him go, meaning that they either have a replacement lined up or they are just temporarily letting him test for Pirelli, after which he will re-sign for them. This would make sense as Mercedes have already stated that they are not after a quick replacement. Although this quote from Ross Brawn doesn’t sound like he is coming back:

“Nick has been a real asset since joining our team and we are pleased to see his career progressing.”

For Pirelli, they have a really good development driver on their books, but I question the use of the TF109. The TF109 was built with refuelling in mind and with the front tyre width being wider. That affects grip levels. Downforce levels are also likely to be different. The question is why didn’t they use the TF110? That is currently laying in the old Toyota base (Which is now a consultancy business with the key Toyota personnel like Pascal Vasselon heading it) gathering dust. Interestingly Vasselon used to work for Michelin with their F1 programme. Could Vasselon be part of a Pirelli partnership? Hispania have been linked with a link up with that consultancy business in recent weeks, maybe it has some sort of deal in the offing with the TF110? They could have also used a 2009 BMW, with which Heidfeld would have been able to provide more reliable feedback as he already knew what the car was like with Bridgstone tyres. It has also been rumoured that a GP2 car maybe used at future tests before the big one with the F1 teams after Abu Dhabi.

Previous rumours have linked 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen to these tests. These rumours came about due to Raikkonen’s non direct affiliation with any F1 team and the fact the WRC sole tyre supplier is Pirelli. But it seems he won’t be undertaking any work and will concentrate on his debut season in the WRC.

But what implications does this have for the driver market? Mercedes need a new reserve driver, but will they go German again? In which case the name that springs up is GP2 driver Christian Vietoris. After a tough season he has finally found some form and took 2nd place in both the feature and sprint races at the Hungaroring. He is only 21 and a decent prospect. Another young German is Marco Whittmann who is currently 2nd in the F3 Euro Series, a series which also contains Williams test driver Valtteri Bottas and 2009 Macau Gp winner Edoardo Mortara (Who is leading the F3 Euro Series). Those 2 Germans are surely big candidates for the Mercedes drive if they go German again.

But what if they don’t. During the Silverstone weekend Norbert Haug confirmed a visit to Kimi Raikkonen. He is close friends with him after Raikkonen’s 5 year stint at Mclaren-Mercedes and described the visit as nothing more than social. But that sent tongues wagging. Could this move for Heidfeld instigate movement inside Mercedes Gp? Michael Schumacher hasn’t had the most successful return seasons, maybe as a tester he can get the thrill of driving an F1 car in the occasional straight line test without the stress or pressure of having to perform on the track. Since then it has been made public by Red Bull sources that Raikkonen wants to stay in WRC but almost 2 months on and nothing has been confirmed. Raikkonen promised an announcement after Rally Finland but 3 weeks on nothing has materialised. In fact Rally Germany is this weekend, so watch this space.

4 Responses to “Heidfeld Signs For Pirelli”

  1. saltire August 17, 2010 at 2:50 pm #

    Ah see, if you can’t beat em, join em! Welcome to blogging kimster and what a great first post. I’m impressed.

  2. Rich August 17, 2010 at 5:05 pm #

    The question is why didn’t they use the TF110

    I think the TF110 will get developed by somebody into an 2011 challenger so this could help that team at a cost to the other teams. That is why they reverted to a 2009 car. In fact this chassis was never raced but will have end-of-season aero-packages.

    I suspect BMW wanted to cut all ties – Toyota is still flirting with F1 racing.

    Not a perfect solution but I am hugely happy for Nick and it should help his marketability as an F1 driver.

  3. Maverick August 17, 2010 at 7:50 pm #

    Heidfeld will be back at Mercedes like a shot if he’s required. It’s all just political niceties – Heidfeld is the best option available given recent F1 experience but he’s not a neutral party. Until now.

    • Kimster August 17, 2010 at 8:01 pm #

      I doubt he is in for a race drive at Mercedes. I personally think a race drive at Renault beckons…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: