Category Archives: Nick Heidfeld

Kimi Raikkonen out of Formula 1 in 2010, Jenson Button to McLaren now just a formality

Kimi Raikkonen’s manager Steve Robertson has announced that the Finnish ex World Champion will be taking a sabbatical in 2010 after talks with McLaren broke down. Robertson was quoted as saying:

Kimi and McLaren were unable to reach an agreement, so he will not drive at the F1 level – at least not next year.

A gap year means nothing for Kimi. He is more interested in fighting for wins and the world championship. F1 will miss Kimi. He worked hard over the summer – doing things in a Ferrari that only the best drivers are capable of.

With the recent Mercedes acquisition of 75% of Brawn GP and the rumours of them wanting an all German team of Nick Heidfeld and Nico Rosberg, it was looking more and more likely that Jenson Button would be signing for McLaren, leaving Kimi Raikkonen without a competitive option in 2010.

For Kimi Raikkonen to have pulled have out of talks with McLaren is surely a clear indication that the official signing of Jenson Button is all but a formality now and will be happening sooner rather than later, possibly even today.

With an eye on the World Rally Championship in 2010, it’ll be interesting to see what Kimi Raikkonen’s options are for Formula 1 in 2011 and whether a race seat for a top team will be open to fight for.

For some great comments about the Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button situation I urge everyone to read the comments left by one of our valued readers here.

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Filed under Brawn GP, Constructors, Drivers, Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren, Mercedes GP, Nick Heidfeld, Nico Rosberg

The world reports Jenson Button has signed for McLaren, good for Mclaren but bad for Mercedes GP?

The latest news sweeping the online world is that Jenson Button has signed a 3 year deal with McLaren worth £6 million a year. I must stress that at this time this is not confirmed, but heavily suspected to be true. After yesterday’s news of Mercedes buying into Brawn GP, Jenson Button moving to McLaren seems more likely than ever. The signing of Jenson Button will save McLaren a fair few millions of pounds a year than if they’d signed Kimi Raikkonen.

Jenson Button – soon to be driving the #1 car for McLaren?
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I’ve had some feedback which suggests that I have been unfair when talking about Jenson Button and that he has far more fire in his belly than I have given him credit for. Admittedly my judgement of Jenson Button is only based on the past few seasons where before last season he was almost non-existent, and last year I was pretty unimpressed despite him winning the World Championship. I’m more than willing to be proven wrong and if I am, and this move to McLaren is actually happening, then that’ll mean more championship points for the team I love and more positive blogging to be done!

I can’t help thinking that Mercedes GP are making a mistake in letting Jenson Button go, because as much as I don’t see his apparent driving skills, he’s a better proposition than either Nick Heidlfeld or Nico Rosberg. The former is consistent but unspectacular and the latter is a wiz in qualifying but never seems to translate that to podium finishes. It’s all very well Mercedes wanting an all German line up of drivers but shouldn’t the potential to succeed be the bigger factor in signing a driver?

Mercedes have said they will announce their drivers for 2010 in the next week or so, but if Jesnon Button is announced as a McLaren driver before then I think Mercedes will be forced into bringing their announcement forward – it would be as obvious as the Ferrari signing of Fernando Alonso earlier in the year.

As for Kimi Raikkonen, well this leaves him taking that money spinning sabbatical that he has spoken about. He has maintained that he will only drive for the right team and with no competitive drive options left one can only assume that the 2007 world champion will not be on the grid in Bahrain next March.

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Filed under Bahrain, Brawn GP, Constructors, Drivers, Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Grand Prix, Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren, Mercedes GP, Nick Heidfeld, Nico Rosberg

Mercedes buy into Brawn GP and McLaren announce long term deal with Mercedes

As most expected, earlier today Mercedes bought into Brawn GP, a 75% share is the believed holding. McLaren have dismissed rumours of a McLaren engine, at least in the next few years, by releasing this statement:

McLaren and Mercedes-Benz are delighted to announce a realigned long-term strategic alliance.

The agreement covers the next six Formula 1 seasons (2010-15) and also provides mechanisms whereby the partnership may continue beyond 2015.

Read the full release over at the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes website.

McLaren have bought back the 40% share that Mercedes owned.

The question of Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen and who, or if, they will drive for next year has not been answered. What is only speculation so far, seems to be leaning more and more in the direction of Jenson Button driving for McLaren in 2010 with the all German team of Nico Rosberg and Nick Heidfeld at Brawn GP.

On the their official F1 Twitter feed McLaren have just tweeted the following:

Ron Dennis made an inspiring speech to the whole company today, discussing the long-term strategy for the entire McLaren Group.

I’ll be looking forward to a return to the red and white livery if that does indeed happen.

Forever in the news, McLaren, Mercedes and Brawn GP are at least making this off season an exciting one so far. The next few weeks, and possibly months, of driver roulette will ensure the 2010 season will be here in no time.

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Filed under Brawn GP, Constructors, Drivers, Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Nick Heidfeld, Nico Rosberg

If Jenson Button comes to McLaren, he brings the #1 with him!

All eyes and ears this morning are on the Mercedes announcement which is due to start in a matter of minutes. It is expected that they will announce their involvement with Brawn GP, and how this will affect their current partnership with McLaren.

There are also rumours flying around that Brawn GP, along with Mercedes, are set to announce an all German driving team consisting of Nick Heidfeld and Nico Rosberg. The current thinking here is that Jenson Button will go to McLaren and Kimi Raikkonen will take a sabbatical.

If Jenson Button does indeed come to McLaren he’ll be driving the Number 1 car! This would be an intriguing situation given that Lewis Hamilton is seen as the number 1 driver at McLaren!

Things have certainly moved on from what seemed only to be fantasy booking on the part of the newspapers a few weeks to a reality that is more and more likely to see a McLaren F1 team next year consisting of the last 2 world champions, who both happen to be British!

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Filed under Brawn GP, Constructors, Drivers, Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Nick Heidfeld, Nico Rosberg

Who will be McLaren’s 2nd driver in 2010?

With the 2009 Formula 1 season over, next on the agenda is for McLaren is confirming who their second driver will be, the man who will be Lewis Hamilton’s team mate next season. At the moment there are three possible contenders, so let’s go through those three options.

Kimi Raikkonen

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Currently at Ferrari where he has been for the past 3 seasons, Raikkonen has been linked with McLaren ever since it was clear that Fernando Alfonso was moving to Ferrari from Renault and even before. Though he won the Drivers Championship at Ferrari in 2007 it never seemed like he was a good fit for the Italian team, and though Felipe Massa is yet to win the World Championship, as soon as rumours of Alonso moving to Ferrari started people naturally assumed it would be Raikkonen who would be leaving.

If Raikkonen did come to McLaren it would be a return to the team that was his home from 2002 – 2006, and one where he had great success, especially the 2003 and 2005 seasons where he finished 2nd in the Championship to Schumacher and Alonso respectively. Raikkonen seemed to have much more drive and desire to win back then, maybe a return to McLaren will see that passion re-ignited for the cool Finn.

Nick Heidfeld

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Nick Heidfeld is nothing if not consistent, but is that enough? At BMW he has played second fiddle to Robert Kubica, at least in the eyes of the critics who see Kubica as one of Formula 1’s future stars. Just read this opening paragraph from his Wikipedia entry:

Despite his recent success, Heidfeld is yet to win a race during his nine seasons in Formula One. This means that amongst the current drivers, he has had the most GP starts without standing at the top spot on the podium. Heidfeld has now started over 150 races, so if he were to eventually win a race he would break the record for most starts before a maiden victory. This is currently held by Mark Webber, who claimed his first victory on his 131st attempt. Heidfeld also currently holds three other dubious records; he is the driver who has scored the highest number of world championship points without a Grand Prix win, shares the record for the most podium finishes without a Grand Prix win with Stefan Johansson, and has the most second place finishes without a win, with 8. He also holds the record for the most consecutive race classifications with a tally of 41, as well as the most finishes in a season when he finished all 18 races in the 2008 season.

While interesting, that’s hardly a list of achievements to get you excited about a driver. However, as a 2nd driver and someone to grab a decent haul of points in support of Lewis Hamilton he could be a good fot for the team. There is also the fact that he is German and as a team that has Mercedes as a major shareholder, that can only be a good thing, especially in a sport that seems to more about the PR than ever before.

Heikki Kovalainen

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When Kovalainen did a straight swap with Alonso, between Renault and McLaren, to start the 2008 season, it seemed like the young Finn was set to have a great career in Formula 1. In 2008 he ended up 7th in the Championship, while team mate Hamilton won the World Championship. If his first year was unspectacular then his second year with McLaren was even more so. McLaren didn’t have a competitive car in the first half of the season but when they came good for the last 8 races, unlike team mate Hamilton, Kovalainen didn’t seem to make the most of his opportunities and while he often qualified pretty well he couldn’t carry that form through to the actual race. In a season that Hamilton battled up to 5th place in the Championship, Kovalainen ended the year in 12th place. That quite frankly is not good enough for a driver wearing the prestigious McLaren team colours.

Looking at Kovalainen this season it seems as though he’s lost a lot of confidence, and in a team that could well be renamed at Team Hamilton, that may not be easy to get back if he were to stay where he is. However, Kovalainen is reportedly very good with all his PR commitments, something that McLaren is putting more emphasis on with every passing season. This is something that Raikkonen has always tried to steer clear of so from that respect Kovalainen is a better fit than his Finnish compatriot. If Kovalainen were to stay with McLaren he would certainly need to step up his performance, but that’s something that the team need to help with just as much as Kovalainen himself.

The Verdict

All three of these drivers have one thing in common, something that makes them a good fit within the team and a natural fit as the second driver at McLaren – they would all be happy accept their position as the number 2 driver in the team and let the lion’s share of the attention fall on Lewis Hamilton.

In my mind Kimi Raikkonen is head and shoulders above Kovalainen and Heidfeld from a racing point of view, it’s just his aversion to interacting with people that may hamper his chances, but surely that’s not worth giving up championship points for?

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Filed under BMW, Constructors, Drivers, Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Heikki Kovalainen, Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Nick Heidfeld, Renault

Hamilton retires, Kovalainen comes in 11th & McLaren beat Ferrari

It started off as planned, with Hamilton getting the perfect start. However, Vettel was on his tail round the first turn and never let a gap of more than 1.8 seconds open up. Hamilton needed at least a 5 second gap as he was due to pit 2 laps earlier than Vettel. A mistake by Hamilton cost him 0.8 seconds and Vettel ended up being only 1.3 seconds behind when Hamilton pitted. At this point it seemed entirely possible that 3rd place Weber might leapfrog Hamilton after the pit stops too.

Vettel pitted at lap 18 and as expected came out in first place. Two laps later and the McLaren crew were seen making a space in the garage for one of the cars and soon enough Hamilton came in, his race over and a suspected right rear brake the problem. For the man who lit up free practice and qualifying this was a huge disappointment. Before this race Hamilton had earned more points than anyone else in the second half of the season and looked set to add at least 8 points to that total in Abu Dhabi.

With Hamilton out the hopes of McLaren were in the hands of probable departing driver Heikki Kovalainen, who managed to leapfrog Kimi Raikkonen after the pits stops and come home in 11th. That added no points to either his own tally or the team total.

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With the 2009 season now over, Lewis Hamilton finished in 5th place with 49 points, just one point ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, while Heikki Kovalianen finished in 12th place with 22 points. McLaren finished the season 3rd in the constructors championship, one point ahead of Ferrari, with 71 points.

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was a largely uninteresting race with the most excitement coming in the final few laps as Jenson Button tried in vain to get past second place Mark Weber. Weber’s Red Bull team mate Sebastian Vettel took home the victory for his 4th race win of the season as he secured 2nd place behind 2009 champion Jenson Button.

I’ll be doing a proper season review in the coming week but this was somewhat of an anti-climax with Hamilton retiring and little race action on offer. For McLaren the next big step is who they sign up as the 2nd driver to partner Lewis Hamilton. Kimi Raikkonen is the favourite, Nick Heidfeld has been mentioned and Jenson Button is surely only fantasy booking?

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Filed under Abu Dhabi, Brawn GP, Constructors, Drivers, Ferrari, Grand Prix, Heikki Kovalainen, Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, Mark Weber, McLaren, Nick Heidfeld, Red Bull, Sebastian Vettel

McLaren in the news – 31st October 2009

Heidfeld now on pole for McLaren seat @ Motorsport.com F1
Saturday 31st October 2009
Nick Heidfeld has emerged as the leading candidate to become Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren teammate in 2010, according to a leading German newspaper.

Bild-Zeitung claims the 32-year-old “suddenly has the best chance” to replace Heikki Kovalainen, after Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button were also touted for the seat.

“Nick’s qualities are well known to us, but still nothing is decided,” Mercedes competition boss Norbert Haug is quoted as saying. (read more…)

Kovalainen angry with Hailton favoritism @ The Jakarta Post
Saturday 31st October 2009
Heikki Kovalainen has a warning for whoever takes his seat at McLaren next season – get used to being an afterthought.

The Finn is expected to depart McLaren after Sunday’s race, and like his predecessor Fernando Alonso, he will leave angry at the preferential treatment shown to co-driver Lewis Hamilton.

“It was always difficult to accept that Lewis was always the first to receive the new parts,” Kovalainen was quoted as saying in Finnish newspaper Helsingen Sanomat. “I have never wanted to make a big deal about it, but it would have been nice to just once had the new parts on my car, particularly after we lost the chance of winning the championship.” (read more…)

Jenson Button weighs up McLaren option but best advice is to stay with Brawn GP @ Times Online Formula 1
Saturday 31st October 2009
For the first time the howl and splutter of V8 engines echoed around the magnificent Yas Marina Circuit yesterday with Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, Britain’s world champions in 2008 and 2009 respectively, leading the way for much of two sessions of practice for tomorrow’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. (Jenson Button weighs up McLaren read more…)

McLaren move the only option as Kimi Raikkonen considers Formula One future @ McLaren F1 Telegraph.co.uk
Friday 30th October 2009
The 2007 world champion, who is leaving Ferrari to make way for Renault’s Fernando Alonso, has agreed an early end to his contract with Ferrari, which was reportedly worth $50m a season.

The enigmatic Finn has been linked with moves to both McLaren and Toyota next year – with the Japanese-backed team saying they have offered him a sizeable contract – but Raikkonen revealed ahead of this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that there was only one real chance for him if he was going to remain in F1. (read more…)

Hamilton says season’s great experience will make him better driver next year @ Trak.In News
Friday 30th October 2009
Formula One racing driver Lewis Hamilton has said that he has gained a lot of experience from this season, which he will utilize to be an even better driver next year.

The McLaren star overcame a nightmare start to the season to head into the season finale in Abu Dhabi as the leading points scorer in the past seven races. Hamilton has pulled in 40 points from five podium finishes, which included two victories. (read more…)

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Filed under Abu Dhabi, Brawn GP, Constructors, Drivers, Grand Prix, Heikki Kovalainen, In the news..., Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Nick Heidfeld