Nick Heidfeld has for the first time admitted that he is worried about his Formula 1 future – and that he is 'fulfilling neither my own expectations nor those of the team' in the sport this year.
The experienced German has endured a torrid time of things for much of 2008, out-qualifying BMW-Sauber team-mate Robert Kubica only twice in 13 outings as he has struggled to get Bridgestone's new Potenza tyres up to temperature sufficiently quickly in qualifying. That has left him both on the back foot come the races – where he has thus far scored just 41 points to Kubica's 55 – and under significant pressure to raise his game…fast.
Having driven for BMW since the Munich-based manufacturer's arrival in the top flight in its own right back at the beginning of in 2006, Heidfeld acknowledges that with no confirmation still of his 2009 plans as next year's grid begins to firm up, his present situation is 'bad'.
“I am fulfilling neither my own expectations nor those of the team,” the 31-year-old told German newspaper Bild
, adding on the subject of whether he fears for his job: “Yes, I do. There have been two times when I did not know how it was going to continue for me – very difficult times.”
The other occasion when Heidfeld's F1 future lay in doubt was when he was dropped by Sauber at the end of an underwhelming 2003 campaign alongside three-time grand prix-winner Heinz-Harald Frentzen. With rumours that his managers are scouting out possible opportunities at Scuderia Toro Rosso, the man from Mönchengladbach confessed that he is currently 'observing the driver market, as I always do'.
“I want to remain with BMW next year and fight for the championship, though,” he asserted. “It would be really annoying if I was not able to do that.”
Encouragingly for Heidfeld, one of the two occasions on which he has out-qualified Kubica is for this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps – for which he will line up fifth on the grid to the Pole's eighth. The last time he started ahead of his team-mate – also in fifth position, at Silverstone back in July – he went on to finish in second place.