Heidfeld Omitted from Sauber 2011 Plans
It is only some three weeks since Nick Heidfeld ended his role as test driver for Pirelli in order to race with Sauber Motorsport, yet the German driver’s planned return to Formula One racing may already not be working out the way he anticipated. Heidfeld signed up with Sauber to drive in the final five rounds of the current season along with Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi. Yet when Sauber Motorsport announced the signing of a new driver to line up alongside Kobayashi for the 2011 season, Heidfeld’s name was nowhere to be found. Instead of granting Nick Heidfeld a place on the grid next year, Sauber has signed a contract with 20-year old Mexican driver Sergio Perez.
“Sergio has been on a continuous upward curve over the past few years,” commented Sauber Motorsport team principal Peter Sauber. “He demonstrated his fighting spirit in races over the course of last season and proved that he’s ready to take the step up into Formula One. I look forward to working with him and am in no doubt that, in Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi, we will have a strong driver pairing.”
Perez has been a member of Escuderia Telmex, which supports racing drivers in various categories, for a number of years. He finished second in this year’s GP2 Series, winning four races, including the championship round in Monaco. The Mexican driver’s career began in Karting, where he won a total of five championships. He followed that up with two years in Formula BMW before moving on to the National Class of the British F3 International Series, where he won a still record 14 races. In 2008 he finished fourth in the International Class of the British F3 International Series. In GP2 Asia he became, at age 18, the series’ youngest race winner.
“Formula One is the dream of every young racing driver,” said Sergio Perez. “And now this dream is about to come true for me. Although I’m very much aware that this is also a big challenge and responsibility, I’m happy to accept that and am proud to be representing my country in the highest category of motor racing. I would like to thank Peter Sauber for the faith he’s shown in me and I’ll do everything I can to make the most of this wonderful opportunity.”
Nick Heidfeld was not mentioned in the Sauber Motorsport statement. Following Sauber’s announcement we can only speculate whether Heidfeld – described by Peter Sauber in mid-September as “a driver we know extremely well who will help us to further judge the comparative potential of our car” – now regrets switching from his Pirelli test contract to what in hindsight looks increasingly like another test role.