Heidfeld to McLaren or Brawn UPDATE #3 (GMM) Norbert Haug has confirmed that talks with Nick Heidfeld about a formula one seat for 2010 are taking place.
It has been reported that, despite Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button actually visiting McLaren's Woking headquarters in recent days, the 32-year-old German is also in the running to take Heikki Kovalainen's place.
"We are speaking with Nick Heidfeld as well," Haug, Mercedes' competition director, told the German news agency DPA.
"Mercedes-Benz supports the idea of signing an experienced and capable German driver. There is however no reason to finalize the driver situation too hastily," he added.
It is also rumored that Mercedes may be interested in assigning Heidfeld to Brawn, amid expectations a major collaboration is to be announced this week.
Heidfeld wrote on his official website nickheidfeld.com that he is not worried about his future after not being able to achieve high profile results with BMW-Sauber in 2009.
"Fortunately, the people who run the teams can see beyond that," he said. "So all in all, I'm quite optimistic about the future."
Nico Rosberg is understood to have already inked a contract for 2010, raising suggestions that Jenson Button is being pushed out by Brawn in favor of a German 'super team'.
11/06/09 The ongoing discrepancy between Kimi Raikkonen’s wage demands and the salary that his most likely F1 2010 employer McLaren-Mercedes is willing to pay him could force the Woking-based outfit to look to out-of-work BMW-Sauber refugee Nick Heidfeld instead – as it emerged that the Finn might do better financially by taking a year off.
Following the official announcement that he was being released by Ferrari to make way for fellow F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso next season, Raikkonen was linked with a number of teams, from Renault to Red Bull and Toyota to McLaren.
However, whilst the 2007 title-winner wasted little time in making clear that only the latter option was of interest to him [see separate story – click here] – having competed for the Silver Arrows for five years from 2002 to 2006, triumphing nine times along the way and arguably being unlucky to miss out on title glory in 2003 and 2005 – it soon became apparent that there was, and remains, quite a gap between his own valuation of his financial worth and McLaren’s estimation.
Due to having been forced to terminate Raikkonen’s contract a year ahead of schedule, Ferrari promised to pay the 18-time grand prix-winner €17 million if he does not compete in F1 in 2010, or €10m if he does. To that end, Germany magazine Auto Motor und Sport reports that McLaren is offering a deal of just €5 million, reasoning that his total would thereby be a more than acceptable €15 million – but the 30-year-old’s management team of Steve and David Robertson is said to be unwilling to budge on its demands, as well as the stipulation that Raikkonen has to attend fewer sponsor days than would be the norm.
Should no agreement be forthcoming, it is being mused that of all the other names mooted as potential team-mates to 2008 F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton – assuming, as is widely anticipated, that Heikki Kovalainen is not retained for a third consecutive season at the multiple title-winning concern – Heidfeld is near to the top of the list, with team principal Martin Whitmarsh having told spox.com that in his opinion the experienced German is perhaps the most underrated driver on the grid.
Heidfeld himself has admitted that he is ‘not ruling out any team’ in the wake of BMW’s withdrawal, and should ‘Quick Nick’ indeed join McLaren, it would doubtless please engine-partner Mercedes-Benz and represent a deserved boost for the oft-overlooked man from Mönchengladbach.
The 32-year-old acted as McLaren-Mercedes test driver back in 1998 and triumphed in the International F3000 Championship (now GP2 Series) for the McLaren Junior Team the following year, only to be passed over in favor of then Sauber team-mate Raikkonen when Mika Hakkinen retired at the end of 2001, to the general surprise of paddock observers. Whilst Raikkonen’s career subsequently took off, Heidfeld’s has yet to really accelerate out of neutral – but a McLaren seat in 2010 could finally offer him the chance to fulfill his undoubted talent and break his grand prix duck. YahooEurosport UK
10/31/09 (GMM) Nick Heidfeld has emerged as the leading candidate to become Lewis Hamilton's McLaren teammate in 2010, according to a leading German newspaper.
Bild-Zeitung claims the 32-year-old "suddenly has the best chance" to replace Heikki Kovalainen, after Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button were also touted for the seat.
"Nick's qualities are well known to us, but still nothing is decided," Mercedes competition boss Norbert Haug is quoted as saying.
Bild said his asking price is less than 5 million Euros; about half Button's desired retainer, and much lower than the apparently apathetic Raikkonen's lucrative demands.
Retaining his services would also fully appease Mercedes' desire for German drivers, with Nico Rosberg expected to go to Brawn in 2010 with the carmaker's blessing.
With BMW pulling out of F1 and the fate of the Sauber team uncertain, Heidfeld is on the market to extend his career into a tenth season next year. zzzz
Having enjoyed Mercedes support through his formative career and acting as McLaren test driver in 1999, he was gutted to have been looked over for the race seat in 2002, when his then Sauber teammate Kimi Raikkonen moved to the British team.
Perhaps coincidentally, Heidfeld walked into the paddock wearing a t-shirt with the words 'The future is not what it once was' printed on the front.10/21/09 (GMM) Nick Heidfeld was the forgotten man of the 2010 silly-season, but he could be in the running for a coveted seat at McLaren or Renault.
The Abendzeitung newspaper reports that, with Lewis Hamilton pushing hard against the prospect of sharing a team with Nico Rosberg or Kimi Raikkonen next year, Germany's 32-year-old Heidfeld has emerged as a candidate.
"He is the most under rated driver in formula one," McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh, likely to part with Hamilton's current teammate Heikki Kovalainen at the end of the season, is quoted as saying. zzzz
And Mercedes' Norbert Haug adds: "He (Heidfeld) brings over ten years of consistently strong performances."
Germany's Bild newspaper said Heidfeld, who debuted for Prost in 2000 and also raced with Sauber, Jordan, Williams and BMW although never winning a race, is also in the running for the Renault seat currently occupied by Romain Grosjean.
We have updated our 2010 F1 Silly Season above.