Nick Heidfeld has revealed that he bears no hard feelings towards Peter Sauber despite the announcement earlier this week that he will find himself out-on-his-ear at the end of F1 2010 in favour of GP2 Series graduate Sergio Pérez – reasoning that he is 'very happy' that the young Mexican's backing has likely secured the team's future.
It was confirmed on Monday that the highly-rated Pérez will join Kamui Kobayashi on Sauber's driving strength in 2011 [see separate story – click here
], along with lucrative financial backing from Mexican telecommunications giant Telmex, who will thereby become the Swiss operation's title sponsor next season.
The news came as a blow to Heidfeld, who had only just rejoined the grand prix grid in Singapore, in-place of the underperforming Pedro de la Rosa – but whilst confessing that he had no inkling that such a deal would take place when he agreed to return to his former team for the remainder of the current campaign, the experienced German insists that far from being upset, he was in fact delighted that the Hinwil-based outfit's hitherto unstable and uncertain future now appears to have been assured.
“Peter informed me before it was made official and actually I didn't complain – quite the opposite, I congratulated him, because I think it's great news for the team and therefore for F1, but especially for all the guys in Hinwil who I've worked with for seven years now,” remarked the man from Mönchengladbach, according to ITV-F1
. “There are great facilities in Hinwil, and I'm very happy for them that they can continue with a big Mexican partner in Telmex. It hopefully secures their future and gives them the possibility to move further up again.
“It's not so good for me, obviously – it's one place less – but it's not a place that I took for granted. Some people might look at it, from what I've seen in the news, like I just came back and now I'm being kicked out again, but that's not how it feels for me. I didn't know about [Pérez] before I signed for this year, [but] it did not come as a big surprise to me, and it was not like it was the one team on my agenda for next year. I think I'm in a good position with the other teams that still have a seat remaining for next year. [Sauber] was just for these five races; both sides wanted to be open for 2011 – Peter as well as myself.”
Some have suggested in the light of recent developments that Heidfeld would have been better-served by sticking with his Pirelli tyre-testing role – one that was in the process of transforming him into a very hot property indeed with regard to the F1 2011 driver market, given his unique and unrivalled prior knowledge of next year's rubber – but the 33-year-old contends that he made the right decision to come back to competition with Sauber, and remains optimistic about his chances of snaring a race cockpit for the following campaign.
“Some people have asked me why I didn't just stay with Pirelli and gather information, but I believe that I can do a good job for the last four races,” he explained. “I did hope that Singapore would turn out better, especially the end result, but there was definitely more to learn after one year away than I would have imagined. I knew the team, but the car and the tyres are just so different [that] you cannot jump in and do the maximum. I've figured out that you need to drive the car differently, and hopefully that will help me.
“I want to drive, I love racing and it is important to show yourself – just being around and showing my face hopefully reminds people of what I did in the past. I drove against people who are now big names in F1, like [Mark] Webber, Kimi [Raikkonen], Felipe [Massa] and Robert [Kubica], and I think without being arrogant, if you look at how I compared to them, it was very good. I think [a race seat in 2011] will happen, but until it's signed you can never be sure. Obviously there are not that many places left anymore, but we're doing our best and it's looking positive.”