Nick Heidfeld has said an early decision to switch to slicks was probably the key to his successful comeback in the F1 2011 British Grand Prix, the ninth round in the championship.
Heidfeld had it all to do going into the race after only qualifying 16th, but he made the most of the mixed conditions at the start - with half the track dry and the other half wet – to haul himself up the order, and impressively he broke into the points by the end, finishing eighth overall, just ahead of Michael Schumacher and Jaime Alguersuari. It was his sixth top-ten of the season and increases his personal tally to 34.
“We saw on Saturday that this would be a tough weekend but as usual I said 'never give up.' I had a good start, but the first few corners were incredibly tight and I was happy to get through them without any damage to the car,” Heidfeld reflected.
“The big question for the race was when to change from the intermediates to the slicks and we were one of the first to do this. It was a good call, however we didn't get as much of an advantage as you can sometimes get from timing your stop well.
“After that it was an interesting race for me as I had to look after my tyres and at the same time I had to attack and also defend at different times, particularly with Michael and Adrian [Sutil]. Finding the balance between attacking, fighting and not killing the tyres was not only very satisfying, but it also worked out well for us with four valuable points.”
Team-mate Vitaly Petrov meanwhile had a more difficult day and despite starting one place ahead in 14th, could only bring his car home in 12th.
“It was not a difficult drive today, however I found it tough running with the intermediate tyres,” he explained. “I lost some positions and was unable to protect myself because the traction was very poor and other cars were able to pass me like I was not there.
“The DRS section was not helpful at all; they should change its position on the track because it just wasn't possible for me to overtake here at Silverstone. I was very close to Adrian (Sutil) but just could not get past, so that was a big frustration. Even on the back straight, there was not enough KERS to overtake so it would be better to put DRS there. My speed was not too bad, I was quite quick but I felt helpless out there.”
“Firstly, it was good for Nick to recover from 16th on the grid to 8th position when he crossed the line, so the general feeling with his drive was quite positive because we had the right strategy with him,” summarised team principal and managing director, Eric Boullier. “There is, however, a general sense of disappointment from this weekend because we did not have a good qualifying; we had our worst qualifying of the season here.
“This weekend we have not been able to reverse a poor period we are currently going through and we will continue to work hard to rectify this.
“We have some good developments coming, which unfortunately were not available for Silverstone but will be ready when we reach the Nürburgring. These will take our performance forward, of that I am convinced.”