Heidfeld: Giving it up or living it up?

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Let’s talk Nick Heidfeld shall we? (hold the “no we shouldn’t comments). Heidfeld has been released from his Mercedes GP contract in order to go test tires for Pirelli. The Italian tire maker said:

“We’re delighted to welcome Nick into the Pirelli family, and we’re confident that he’ll do a great job for us. The role of test driver is a crucial one, so we were looking for a driver who had plenty of recent Formula One experience, the speed to push our new tyres as hard as possible, and the consistency to provide reliable simulations, as well as the analytical skills to relay information accurately to our engineers. Nick fits the bill in every respect and we’re very pleased to have secured his services and obviously thankful to MERCEDES GP PETRONAS for agreeing to release Nick from his contract. As for the car, we have a policy of complete impartiality, so we did not want to favour any existing team. The Toyota was the perfect solution, as it is a contemporary racing machine with proven speed and reliability but without links to any of the manufacturers currently competing in Formula One. I’m confident that we have an extremely good package that will give us every opportunity to maximise the potential of our tyres prior to the start of next season.”

And Nick said:

“It’s a great privilege for me to join Pirelli in order to carry out this vital work and I am very grateful to MERCEDES GP PETRONAS for releasing me from my contract to take on this role. Through the experience I have built up over the years, I’m confident that I will be able to provide Pirelli with some important feedback regarding the development of next year’s tyres. I’ve got a lot to give but I haven’t been driving so much this year, so it is good to get started! Together, I’m sure that we can create a dynamic range of tyres that will make Formula One an even more exciting sport in the future.”

What do you say? Good move for Nick? Was being a third driver at Mercedes GP with no testing a good gig or is the Pirelli test drive a better launching pad for Heidfeld to get back into F1? There’s no secret that I’ve always liked Quick Nick and while he has not room full of championship trophy’s, he is a tidy driver and I have followed him from his F3000 days. I hate to not see him in F1 but I am wondering how good this move is.

Having relevant track time at Pirelli may be a more lucrative skill on his CV as other teams are looking for relevant, current driving experience. I think of Anthony Davidson, who I rate, as having a challenging time finding a ride as he is not in a pay-to-drive situation and has now been out of the car for a while.

Having given it some consideration, perhaps ill-informed, I think it may be the best move for Heidfeld at this time. He can remain sharp, polished and posses a serious knowledge of the tires for 2011. If there is a slot open come this winter, perhaps Heidfeld’s credentials will offer and opportunity.

What do you think? Should he have stayed at Mercedes GP? Or is the Pirelli deal the best option?

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