Nick Heidfeld has confirmed that he has still not given up hope of finding an F1 seat for next season, despite being dropped by Lotus Renault midway through a disappointing 2011 campaign.
The German was seen as the ideal replacement for Robert Kubica when the Pole was injured in a pre-season rally accident, especially after helping the black-and-gold team to top spot in testing, but has failed to shine since reaching the podium in round two at Sepang. Although he was still narrowly ahead of team-mate Vitaly Petrov at the time that the axe fell, Heidfeld was 'not proving to be a leader' in the eyes of team principal Eric Boullier, who replaced him with former HRT backmarker Bruno Senna.
While Senna has qualified in the top ten on both his 2011 appearances, and scored his first F1 points last time out at Monza, Heidfeld's future has been linked to a possible role with BMW's return to the DTM. The German was a favourite of the company's during his single year at Williams, to the point that BMW swooped to sign him for its own F1 foray when the British outfit dithered.
However, while he acknowledges that the touring car series offers the sort of competition that he be looking for, Heidfeld insisted that he was not about to close the door entirely on F1.
“The DTM is at the highest level of motorsport, but my goal is to be again in F1 next year [and] there are still a few places, but not many,” he admitted to German broadcaster ARD
, “This year didn't turn out as I had hoped, but I think what I've done in the past has been for a good reputation. Unfortunately, many cockpits are gone, but I will try to get a good seat.
“As long as there is a chance of an F1 cockpit, I will work for it, and I will be asking around a bit [in Singapore this weekend] to see what is happening for next year.”
The 34-year old former FIA F3000 champion has driven for Prost, Sauber, Jordan, Williams and BMW as well as Renault during his lengthy F1 career, but never achieved the McLaren seat he was highly tipped for during his time in the feeder series. He had the misfortune of partnering a mercurial rookie by the Kimi Raikkonen at Sauber and it was the Finn that Woking snapped up. Heidfeld has also suffered through not having sufficient backing to buy rides, and was left on the sidelines in both 2010 and 2011, at least until Kubica's accident. Last season, he accepted a role with impending tyre supplier Pirelli, and was subsequently hired by Sauber to replace fellow veteran Pedro de la Rosa for the final few rounds.
With BMW restarting its DTM involvement from next year, Heidfeld's name has been high on the list to join the likes of touring car regulars Andy Priaulx and Augusto Farfus in its line-up.
“About a possible future in the DTM, I do not want to speculate,” he admitted, “Of course there are still the contacts, but it's still too early to talk about it.”