Nick Heidfeld

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Nick Heidfeld

Post by Tufty »

I've always wondered this, and writing my essays in the Schumacher legacy thread got me thinking further. How do we rate Nick Heidfeld?

I'll openly admit I was never a fan of his, but I can't put my finger on why. He seems a nice enough guy and I don't think anyone would class him as a hopeless driver - he was in the sport for almost a decade, so he can't have been THAT bad.

From memory (wifi and software problems are limiting my access to championship records) Heidfeld generally seemed to match his teammates for pace, whoever they might be. The only exception that springs to mind is 2008, although even there BMW screwed him out of a win by favouring Kubica.

I know this forum isn't the place we're meant to deal in hypotheticals, but it can be interesting sometimes to see how different people consider circumstances working out, so:

Do we think Heidfeld had the potential to be a top tier driver? Could he have matched someone like Schumacher or Alonso (assuming it was at least 2005, so he has enough experience under his belt to know what he's doing in an F1 car) or was he more of a journeyman driver, only really good enough to play rear gunner to a championship contending teammate?

I hope this proves an interesting debate.
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Re: Nick Heidfeld

Post by Lotus49 »

I struggle to place quick Nick, he did tend to be on his team mates pace and beat some pretty good drivers albeit as rookies (Kimi and Massa) and Kubica and JV and was pretty close to Webber in his first year at the team. But for whatever reason some bigger teams took his team mates instead so there must be something. (Not that BMW weren't a big team)

I definitely think he'd have won multiple races in better cars but I don't think he was Schumacher/Alonso level but more the Webber and Kimi level so whether he'd have got a title would be down to who was sitting next to him.
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Re: Nick Heidfeld

Post by BMWSauber84 »

He was pretty unlucky in that he outscored Kimi and Massa as teammates, but they got the big moves to Mclaren and Ferrari respectively.

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Re: Nick Heidfeld

Post by Arbitrarius »

Heidfeld lost out twice to driving for McLaren. The first time was to Raikkonen and the second time was to Button.
My opinion is that the deciding factor in the first case was that Ron Dennis was looking for a surrogate Hakkinen. Both drivers were evenly matched at the time but, of course, Raikkonen delivered so it wasn't the wrong choice.
In the case of Button, I recall that a contract was almost sorted with Heidfeld when Button suddenly became available. Clearly, there was no competition this time. I think McLaren's logic was that Heidfeld would be a Coulthard-like driver - fast, but not quite enough to trouble Hamilton. With Button, they probably figured the same but he was obviously more marketable as a WDC and he wasn't an 'alpha' in a way that would destabilise the team.

If BMW hadn't screwed up its F1 programme, Heidfeld may have won races and perhaps even a title, in much the same way Damon Hill managed at Williams. Or... Kubica would have centred the team around himself and Heidfeld would have ended up playing the Coulthard role.

Ultimately, I think Heidfeld's personality was too much like Williams-era Damon Hill's. Boullier said Heidfeld didn't show any leadership the way Kubica did. Even though the statement was unfair in the context - with your number 1 driver in hospital, the one to show leadership was Boullier, not the driver filling in on a temporary contract - I think this was what Heidfeld lacked. Heidfeld was fast and talented, but so were other drivers who had more ego. If you look at his contemporaries who won races and titles, which ones would have given up a first win under the same circumstances as Heidfeld to Kubica?

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