Nick Heidfeld has finally landed the Mercedes testing and 3rd driver role.
In his junior days he was a test driver for McLaren Mercedes but did not get taken on in an F1 race seat. He was at Sauber in 2001 when Mercedes and McLaren again overlooked him and chose his team mate Kimi Raikkonen instead. His career has had several false starts and never delivered the race wins his speed and engineering prowess deserved.
With drives and Sauber and Renault having been filled last week, Heidfeld’s options were getting thin and rather than follow Jarno Trulli into employment with a new team, he has chosen to stay close to the action at the front of the grid, albeit in a reserve role.
“Whilst I would of course have preferred a seat as an active driver, I am really proud to be part of the new Silver Arrows team,” he said. “It’s the team which has attracted the most interest in the close season, not only because of the comeback of Michael Schumacher, but also because this season sees the return of the Silver Arrows cars as a Mercedes-Benz works team for the first time in over fifty years.”
The key word here is “active”. Test drivers today don’t do much actual driving of racing cars due to the testing ban, but Heidfeld will be actively employed in the simulator and will attend events in his reserve capacity, should anything happen to Nico Rosberg or Michael Schumacher. With Schumacher being 41 and recovering from a neck injury, it’s a wise move by the team to have a driver who they know will be able to compete straight away should he be called on.