Heidfeld leaves Mercedes, testing Pirelli on Tuesday
(GMM) Nick Heidfeld has left his post as Mercedes' reserve driver.
The 33-year-old German on Tuesday kicked off Pirelli's 2011 tire development program at Mugello, at the wheel of a 2009 Toyota.
A statement issued by Mercedes confirmed that Heidfeld "has been released from his contract" so that he can work with the Italian marque.
"It would be great to see Nick in a competitive car in next year's world championship and I am sure his leading role in the new tire development puts him in a good position for the remaining seats," said Norbert Haug.
At the same time, Pirelli confirmed reports that Toyota's TF109, raced by the Cologne based team before pulling out of F1 at the end of last season, will be the car driven by Heidfeld.
"We have a policy of complete impartiality, so we did not want to favor any existing team," explained the Italian marque's F1 chief Paul Hembery.
MERCEDES GP PETRONAS confirm that Nick Heidfeld has been released from his contract as the team's Reserve Driver to take up the position of official test driver for Pirelli.
As Pirelli prepares for its return to Formula One, Nick will join the Italian company for a series of tests beginning in August to assist with their development work on the tire compounds to be used by the Formula One teams in 2011.
Ross Brawn, Team Principal, MERCEDES GP PETRONAS: "We can confirm that the team is pleased to allow Nick Heidfeld the opportunity to join Pirelli and contribute to their development work for the company's imminent return to Formula One. Nick is an extremely experienced driver and we are confident that his racing knowledge and technical feedback will prove extremely useful to Pirelli and therefore of benefit to the sport as a whole. Nick has been a real asset to MERCEDES GP PETRONAS since joining our team this year and we are pleased to see his career progressing."
Norbert Haug, Vice-President of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: "It was clear from the beginning of our cooperation that MERCEDES GP PETRONAS would release Nick from his obligations as soon as a promising opportunity as an active Formula One driver developed. This is now the case and there could be no more experienced and knowledgeable driver in the cockpit to steer the tire development for next season. We thank Nick for his contribution to our team over the last nine months and wish him well with his new challenge. It would be great to see Nick in a competitive car in next year's Formula One World Championship and I am sure his leading role in the new tire development, in addition to his skills, puts Nick in a good position for the remaining seats in 2011."
Nick Heidfeld: "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 PETRONAS for the great cooperation that we have had this year. 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." Source: Mercedes