Heidfeld appears to have finished in F1
Heidfeld’s F1 options fading No options on the table for 2012 F1 season following confirmation of German veteran’s split with Renault
Nick Heidfeld’s Formula 1 career appears to be over after he agreed a settlement with former employer Renault.
The 34-year-old German had been pursuing legal action against the team after being dropped in favour of Bruno Senna.
AUTOSPORT understands that he did secure an out-of-court pay-off from Renault, which had him under contract until the end of the season as a replacement for the injured Robert Kubica. Senna has now been confirmed as a Renault driver for the rest of the 2011 season, as reported by AUTOSPORT last week.
The agreement means that Heidfeld is without a drive for the rest of the year. With few seats available for next season and many of those requiring a driver with a budget, he is unlikely to find a place on the grid in 2012. A switch to the DTM with BMW is his most likely option and talks are understood to have already taken place with the marque. Heidfeld has already said that he is determined to continue to race at a high level.
“Obviously I’m disappointed to be leaving Renault in the middle of the season,” said Heidfeld. “I thought I could still make a big contribution to the team, but I have to see things as they are and I want to turn my attention to the future. I would like to wish all the friends I made at Enstone a successful end to the season. One thing is for sure
Heidfeld: hot property after ’99 F3000 victory
– I’ll be back racing at the highest level soon.”
Heidfeld came into F1 with Prost in 2000 with a promising reputation after winning the Formula 3000 title as a McLaren junior driver in 1999. He went on to drive for Sauber, Jordan, Williams, BMW and Renault. After BMW pulled out of F1 at the end of 2009, he was without a race drive for much of the following season, serving first as Mercedes reserve driver and then as Pirelli’s tyre tester before returning to race for Sauber in the final five races of 2010. After initially missing out on a seat for the past two seasons, it’s unlikely that a late opportunity will present itself for a third consecutive campaign.
If, as is likely, Heidfeld does not return to F1, he will hold the unenviable record of having claimed more grand prix podium finishes – 13 - than any other driver without a victory (see panel, right). l Romain Grosjean, who is now Renault’s main reserve driver, completed his first official day of driving for the team since 2009 in a straight-line test at Duxford last week. Technical director James Allison said the test “allowed us to seek a final ‘top up’ of gains on the R31 with only minimal impact on the Enstone CFD and windtunnel programme. We came home with a couple of items which will find their way on to the car in the coming races”.
HEIDFELD IN NUMBERS
259 25 13
10 autosport.com September 8 2011 NEWS PIT & PADDOCK
Webber: I didn’t look for a move THE TOP SIX… PODIUMS WITHOUT A WIN
→ P32 WEBBER INTERVIEW
These are the cursed drivers to have picked up the most trophies without ever tasting victory
Webber in demo action in Wales
MARK WEBBER INSISTS THAT HE he never gave any thought to leaving Red Bull for a rival team before signing his new one-year deal with the team.
The Australian was linked with a number of other outfits before committing to Red Bull, with Ferrari among those who considered him an option as back-up to Fernando Alonso.
“I had a lot of phone calls from different people, but it wasn’t something that was attractive to me,” Webber told AUTOSPORT. “I’m well embedded with the team here, I’ve got a lot of intelligence in terms of how we work and it’s great to keep building on that.
“Sixty per cent of my career has been here [including two years at the team in its Jaguar guise], so it wouldn’t have been easy to leave. It wasn’t really on the cards.”
Webber, who is 92 points behind team-mate Sebastian Vettel in the championship, admits that he is close to giving up on the title despite being determined to finish the year on a high.
“In terms of points, Seb is a long, long way down the road,” he added. “I’m not even thinking about the championship, to be honest. But there is still an opportunity to get some good results.”
,E T H E R I N GTO N / L AT,T H O M P S O N/G E T T Y
,D U N BA R
,COAT E S
:B E L L A N C A
P IC S
BBC forced to explain Sky deal to parliament Turkey misses out next year
BBC and Bernie are under fire
THE FIA HAS CONFIRMED A NEW 20-race calendar for 2012, with the Turkish GP dropping off the schedule.
The Turkish government was unwilling to pay the $26million fee demanded by Bernie Ecclestone, which was an increase of $9.5million on the previous race fee.
Elsewhere, the Bahrain Grand Prix has swapped dates with India. The United States Grand Prix has, as expected, switched to November to create a season-ending double-header with Brazil.
THE BBC WILL BE questioned by MPs over the agreement to share live Formula 1 coverage with Sky from next season.
The corporation will appear before the House of Commons Select Committee for Culture, Media and Sport next month, with Liberal Democrat MP Don Foster demanding answers about the deal.
In a letter to BBC director general Mark Thompson, Foster suggested that there should have been a willingness to relinquish F1 coverage to another free-to-air broadcaster, Channel 4, instead.
“I believe the best result would have been for the rights to remain with a free-to-air broadcaster, even if this was not the BBC,” wrote Foster.
He went on to point out the “divergent views” of Bernie Ecclestone and the BBC in their public statements about the deal, with each saying that the final decision lay with the other. Foster also wrote to Ecclestone.
“This deal has led to anger among F1 fans and now they have to sift through completely contradictory accounts of who decided what,” Foster added. “The least fans deserve is a clear explanation of what has happened. I urge you to give it.”
September 2 Belgium September 9 Italy September 23 Singapore October 7 Japan October 14 Korea October 28 India November 4 Abu Dhabi November 18 USA November 25 Brazil
NICK HEIDFELD – 13 The German finished second in a grand prix eight times, most recently in Malaysia 2009, backing that up with five thirds. No wonder having to let Robert Kubica past in Canada in 2008 to set up the Pole’s victory rankles.
STEFAN JOHANSSON – 12 The Swede appeared on the podium 11 times from 1985-1987, when he drove for first Ferrari and then McLaren. Arguably his greatest result was third place at Estoril in 1989 in the Onyx ORE-1.
CHRIS AMON – 11 No driver has more ‘could-have wons’ on his CV after coming so close so many times during his career. He finished second three times and third eight times driving Ferrari, March and Matra machinery between 1967 and 1972.
JEAN BEHRA – 9 Cursed with second-string machinery, Behra was regarded as one of the best during the 1950s but never won, despite finishing fourth in the world championship driving a factory Maserati in 1956.
EDDIE CHEEVER – 8 The American’s big chance came in 1983, alongside Alain Prost at Renault. He finished on the podium four times. He also finished third twice in 1982 for Ligier, adding third places in Italy (’88) and on home soil in Phoenix (’89) for Arrows.
MARTIN BRUNDLE – 8 After making his F1 debut in 1984, it took until ’92 for Brundle to claim a top-three finish. He took five podiums for Benetton that year, including P2 at Monza, followed by four more podiums – two with Ligier (’93 and ’95) and two with McLaren (’94).
September 8 2011 autosport.com 11