Nick Heidfeld is leaving Mercedes to join the Pirelli tyre suppliers
Mercedes GP have confirmed that they have released their test and reserve driver Nick Heidfeld, to allow him to test for the Pirelli tyre company, in preparations for the 2011 season. It is unclear whether this means Heidfeld can get a drive with a team next year or not, as it depends on how long the tests last.
The first tyre test will start today at the Mugello circuit, behind the wheel of a Toyota TF109, which has now been confirmed by Pirelli. As well as these tests during this season, all of the teams will be allowed to try the tyres out, in a 4-day test in Abu Dhabi after the season concludes.
Paul Hembery has explained why Nick was the ideal choice for their test driver:
“We’re delighted to welcome Nick into the Pirelli family, and
we’re confident that he’ll do a great job for us. The role of
test driver is a crucial one, so we were looking for a driver
who had plenty of recent Formula One experience, the speed to
push our new tyres as hard as possible, and the consistency to
provide reliable simulations, as well as the analytical skills
to relay information accurately to our engineers.
Nick fits the bill in every respect and we’re very pleased to
have secured his services and obviously thankful to Mercedes GP
Petronas for agreeing to release Nick from his contract. As for
the car, we have a policy of complete impartiality, so we did
not want to favour any existing team. The Toyota was the perfect
solution, as it is a contemporary racing machine with proven
speed and reliability but without links to any of the
manufacturers currently competing in Formula One. I’m confident
that we have an extremely good package that will give us every
opportunity to maximise the potential of our tyres prior to
the start of next season.”
Meanwhile, Nick Heidfeld has said:
"First of all I would like to thank Ross Brawn, Norbert Haug
and Nick Fry for allowing me the opportunity to become Pirelli’s
official test driver.
The team has always said that they would not stand in my way
if such a chance arose and they have kindly allowed me to take
up this exciting new role. I would like to thank everyone at
Mercedes GP for the great cooperation that we have had this
I have greatly enjoyed supporting the team in my position as
Reserve Driver and have felt welcome right from the outset.
It was impressive to have the opportunity to work with the
current World Champions and I wish the team all the best for
the remainder of the season and beyond.
It’s a great privilege for me to join Pirelli in order to
carry out this vital work and I am very grateful to Mercedes
GP Petronas for releasing me from my contract to take on this
role. Through the experience I have built up over the years,
I’m confident that I will be able to provide Pirelli with
some important feedback regarding the development of next
I’ve got a lot to give but I haven’t been driving so much
this year, so it is good to get started! Together, I’m sure
that we can create a dynamic range of tyres that will make
Formula One an even more exciting sport in the future.”
One interesting thing to note about this, though, is the fact that Nick will soon gain extensive knowledge of next year’s tyres, which obviously will play a huge part in the performance of the cars. With this information on board, he may well be in huge demand for a drive next year, as the teams strive to gain as much detail on the tyres as they can.