Heidfeld hasn’t signed with Mercedes, yet

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Nick Heidfeld’s manager, Andre Theuerzeit, says his driver hasn’t yet signed any deal for the 2010 season. This comes shortly after an article in the tabloid publication Auto Bild motorsport, which seemed to suggest that the ink was dry on a Heidfeld Mercedes test contract.

Nick Heidfeld

Now, Theuerzeit tells Motorsport-Total.com that the German has not yet committed to Mercedes for 2010, and is still talking to “several outfits”. [My translation of original German.]

Nothing has been decided yet, and so obviously nothing has been signed, either. Mercedes is an extremely interesting team, but we still don’t have a contract in front of us that is fit to sign.

If Nick were to become test and replacement driver [for Mercedes], which is entirely possible, then he would concentrate fully on this job.

Incidentally, a variation on the theme of this last sentence was the basis of Autobild’s “confirmation” of the deal in the earlier article – which may explain the confusion. Here’s that paragraph in full, translated as the publication “revealed” its news:

“Nick wants to focus completely on his job as test driver, and to support the main drivers with his experience,” Heidfeld manager Andre Theuerzeit told ‘Auto Bild motorsport’, confirming his driver’s switch from BMW to Mercedes. “Nick had been concentrating on getting a ride with one of the top teams. There, however, some decisions were taken really late this year, and that meant we missed out on a few other opportunities.”

This wouldn’t be the first time that Bild had taken a quote slightly out of context (change the tense of the verb “wants”, for example, and the meaning of the above sentence is suddenly identical to Theuerzeit’s later statement) in order to get a little bit more out of a story – and I suspect that’s what we’re dealing with here.

But putting the foibles of the German media aside, the links between Heidfeld and the third spot on the Mercedes roster are getting ever greater. Bild has also speculated that Eric Boullier would like to hire the German for Renault, but may end up choosing a more lucrative, less experienced driver like Ho-Pin Tung or Vitaly Petrov to fill a budget shortfall.

If Mercedes hired Heidfeld, their all-German driver line-up (at a primarily British team, of course!) would be complete. And there’s no question that they’d be getting another solid performer. Heidfeld would surely be amongst the most over-qualified test drivers of all time – with 167 race starts, 12 podiums, and 219 career points to his name.

But my question is, why would Mercedes want him? Does this mean that the Schumacher return is still in doubt? Heidfeld’s certainly the perfect insurance policy, but he’s also a very expensive one to take out, unless Mercedes is expecting problems.

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