Nick Heidfeld has joined Sauber for the rest of the year
It has been confirmed today that Nick Heidfeld will replace Pedro de la Rosa at the Sauber team for the final 5 races of the season. De la Rosa has been struggling for pace in comparison to team-mate Kamui Kobayashi, and Heidfeld has been freed of his reserve driver role at Mercedes because of his Pirelli tyre testing duties.
Nick returns to the team he drove for from 2001 to 2003, and 2006 to 2009, where he has made 120 race appearances. His many years of racing experience, combined with his extensive knowledge of next year’s Pirelli tyres, have encouraged the Sauber team to take him on for the rest of the year. Peter Sauber said:
"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."
Heidfeld said this on the signing:
"I’m looking forward like crazy to having the opportunity to go
racing again in a good car in Formula One from the Singapore
Grand Prix onwards.
After the last months I’m even more motivated than ever. For
me it is like coming home, as I raced for seven years in total
for the team from Hinwil. Without doubt I will be feeling at
home straight away and this should help me to familiarise myself
as soon as possible with the car. I want to thank Peter Sauber
for the faith he has put in me."
While I’m very happy that one of the most under-rated drivers on the grid has got a race seat again, we have to remember that Sauber will have been influenced by Heidfeld’s knowledge of the Pirelli tyre. At the moment, Sauber seem to have some of the best tyre conservation rates on the grid, and Nick will be able to help the team exploit the extra grip available to them through next year’s tyre switch.
As for Pedro, it’s disappointing to say, but he didn’t perform well enough. You could certainly argue the retirement rate (one-third of all races this year) has severely damaged his chances, but the fact of the matter is that Kamui Kobayashi completely out-classed him, and Sauber are in need of more impreovement. Overall, a good call by the Sauber team, and good news for Heidfeld.