Felipe Massa has claimed that former Sauber team-mate Nick Heidfeld should not have been forced to take on reserve driver responsibilities with the Mercedes team this season.
Speaking in the break between testing at Jerez, Massa told Swiss newspaper Blick
that is was a poor reflection on the current state of F1 that Heidfeld - a podium finisher in 2009 with BMW Sauber - had been relegated to the brink of an exit from the sport even as new teams swell the grid beyond last year's numbers.
"Why has no one offered Nick Heidfeld a good cockpit?" Massa enquired, "If I look at the  field, Nick belongs in F1 - but not as a spare driver."
Heidfeld admits that he had the possibility of keeping a place on the grid, not least having been linked to the second Mercedes race seat before Michael Schumacher came out of retirement, but opted for the reserve role as he felt if offered the best opportunities for the future.
"I never said that Sauber was an alternative solution where I only needed to wave my hand and get a contract," he told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport
, "My main focus was on being in a top team. There are several reasons why it did not work out that are partly obvious and partly not.
"At McLaren, I had a really good opportunity as I was fully expecting Jenson Button to stay at Brawn, and also at Mercedes, but then things happened about which I had no control."