Nick Heidfeld has underlined that he remains fully focussed on his ultimate goal of one day becoming Formula 1 World Champion – even though as things stand he does not even have a seat in 2010.
Though he has begun some 162 races in F1 since making his debut for Prost Grand Prix back in 2000 as the reigning International F3000 (now GP2 Series) champion, Heidfeld has yet to reach the top of the podium, despite twelve appearances on its lower two steps. That has seen him labelled in some quarters as something of a 'journeyman' driver – steady and consistent, but never really destined for great things. The man himself begs to differ.
“It's obviously very satisfying to know that I've beaten drivers such as Felipe [Massa], Kimi [Raikkonen] and Mark [Webber] in the same car and that they have then gone on to challenge for the title or even win it,” the man from Mönchengladbach mused of his former team-mates in an interview with Motorsport-Magazin.com
. “It's annoying that I've never had a chance to drive the right car.”
Indeed, this year's BMW-Sauber F1.09 is palpably far from the 'right car' with which to challenge for glory – merely making it beyond the initial phase of qualifying has been a challenge all of its own at times – but again Heidfeld has performed respectably, out-scoring his highly-rated, race-winning team-mate Robert Kubica ten points to eight with five races to go in 2009.
Linked with a possible return to Williams next year – having previously driven for the multiple world champions back in 2005 alongside Webber – Heidfeld's options for prolonging his F1 career may not be plentiful, but the 32-year-old is adamant that he has a lot still to offer in the top flight, particularly with new teams joining the fray in 2010, rendering experience and consistency of increasingly paramount importance.
“Consistency in races and always seeing the chequered flag is an important factor,” stressed the German, who since the 2007 Chinese Grand Prix has seen the chequered flag on every single occasion, an F1 record. “In fact, it can be the decisive factor if you are driving a competitive car and are a contender for the title.
“Against that, though, you have to balance the need for the right level of aggression when you're challenging for position out on the track. I'd like to become world champion one day, and everything I do is focused on that target.”