Record updated 09-May-07
Nick Heidfeld is a German Formula One auto racing driver for the BMW factory F1 team.
Nick Heidfeld is a German Formula One auto racing driver for the BMW Sauber factory team. He lives in Stafa, Switzerland with his girlfriend Patricia and baby daughter, Juni.
Heidfeld was born in Mönchengladbach, Germany, and began racing in 1988. In 1994, he moved into the German Formula Ford series, and gained widespread attention by winning 8 of the 9 races to take out the title. In 1995, he won the German International Formula Ford 1800 Championship, and came second in the Zetec Cup. This led to a drive in the German International Formula 3 championship for 1996, where he finished third after taking 3 wins. The following year, Heidfeld won the German F3 Championship, including a win at the prestigious Monaco event. In 1998, he won three races and was runner-up in the European Formula 3000 Championship with the West Junior Team, failing to win the title because he lost his pole position at the final race due to a team error. During that season, he was also the official test driver for the McLaren-Mercedes Formula One team. In 1999, he won the International Formula 3000 Championship.
Having impressed with his final season of Formula 3000, Heidfeld was signed as a race driver for the Prost Grand Prix F1 team for the 2000 season, alongside Jean Alesi. Heidfeld struggled with his new car. he suffered a string of retirements and came to blows with team mate Jean Alesi on more than one occasion. He departed Prost at the end of that season. Shortly after he signed a three-year contract with Sauber for 2001, partnered with rookie driver Kimi Räikkönen. After the announcement of Mika Häkkinen's retirement, many thought that Heidfeld would replace him in the McLaren team, as he had outperformed Räikkönen over the year, including a podium position in the Brazilian Grand Prix. However, the seat went to Räikkönen, and Heidfeld stayed with Sauber for 2002 and 2003. At the end of 2003, Heidfeld was dumped from the team and looked to be without a race seat for the 2004 season. However, after a number of successful tests, it was announced that Heidfeld would race with the Jordan Grand Prix team, alongside rookie Giorgio Pantano. Heidfeld was impressive in a mediocre car, but was not signed for another team in 2005. During the winter, Heidfeld has tested with WilliamsF1, in a 'shootout' with Antônio Pizzonia for the second race seat. At the Williams launch on January 31, it was announced that Heidfeld would be a race driver for the team in 2005.
At the seventh race of the season at the Nurburgring circuit, his home grand prix, Heidfeld took his first ever pole position.He has also achieved his best position to-date (2nd) with Williams in Monaco this year, which he equalled at the Nurburgring. Heidfeld missed the Italian and Belgian Grands Prix due to injuries suffered in testing accident. Scheduled to come back for Brazil , he was injured again when hit by a motorbike when out cycling, and therefore forced to sit out the rest of the season.
Nick signed a three year contract with his then current team's (Williams) engine supplier and with BMW Sauber's three year plan he is expecting to be challenging for wins by 2008.
The 2006 season was better than expected - Nick was on form in the season-opener in Bahrain and had it not been for rookie Nico Rosberg hitting Nick's rear at the first corner, a points position was probable. Malaysia, the following race, was even better - Nick ran 5th for the majority of the race and had it not been for an engine blow in the final 7 laps, Nick would have scored 4 points for the team. At Melbourne he was running as high as second until he was caught in some confusion when the safety car came out and eventually finished 4th. At Indianapolis, he was involved in a spectacular first lap accident which saw fellow drivers, Scott Speed, Kimi Räikkönen and Juan Pablo Montoya eliminated as well as Nick, who suffered a triple barrel roll, the first of his career and the second of the season (Christijan Albers suffered one at the 2006 San Marino Grand Prix). Fortunately, he and the other drivers all walked away unharmed. The Hungarian Grand Prix saw Nick give the team their first podium and best result to date when he finished 3rd. Nick drove a faultless race from 10th on the grid to finish on the rostrum.
At the end of 2006, Heidfeld was quoted as going on the verbal attack against media oversaturation of the talent of teammate Robert Kubica, despite scoring more points than the Pole. This has happened three times in the German's career, in 2001 when he was teammates with Kimi Räikkönen (by season's end he beat Kimi by 12 points to 9) and in 2002 when he was teammates with Felipe Massa (beating Felipe by 7 points to 4), both of whom will be making up the 2007 Ferrari line-up.
Nick has performed very well under some intense pressure from BMW management, many believing that young German Sebastian Vettel is being primed for Nick's race seat in the near future, as Robert Kubica is considered a promising talent for the future and it would be highly unlikely that he would be taken out of his race seat. Heidfeld has proved to be the quicker of the two so far this season, finishing fourth in all three races this season, just behind the front-running McLaren and Ferrari drivers. His most impressive drive was at Bahrain, where he chased down and then overtook reigning world champion Fernando Alonso in a very impressive overtaking manouevre, but was unable to catch the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen that would finish ahead of him. Nick currently lies fifth in the championship with 15 points, making him the best of the rest after the front-running Ferrari and McLaren drivers.
On 28 April 2007, Nick Heidfeld drove 3 demonstration laps around the Nürburgring's legendary 14 mile Nordschleife track, which made him the first driver in 31 years to pilot a current F1 car there. About 45,000 spectators had shown up for the show which was held after a 4 hour VLN endurance race.