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Heidfeld becomes official Pirelli test driver 17 Aug 2010

Nick Heidfeld (GER).
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, German Grand Prix, Preparations, Hockenheim, Germany, Thursday, 22 July 2010 Pirelli tyres. GP3 Series Testing, Paul Ricard, France, 4-5 March 2010. Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1.09.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 28 August 2009

Nick Heidfeld has been released from his contract as Mercedes GP reserve driver in order to become the official tester for Pirelli, who return to Formula One racing next year as the sport’s sole tyre supplier.

Heidfeld, who boasts over a decade of F1 experience, will join the Italian company for a series of tests to assist with their development work on the compounds to be used by teams in 2011. The first is due to start on Tuesday at the Mugello circuit in Italy.

"First of all I would like to thank (Mercedes GP’s) Ross Brawn, Norbert Haug and Nick Fry for allowing me the opportunity to become Pirelli's official test driver,” said Heidfeld. “The team has always said that they would not stand in my way if such a chance arose and they have kindly allowed me to take up this exciting new role.”

Heidfeld, 33, joined Mercedes GP for the 2010 season after parting company with BMW Sauber at the end of last year. As well as race experience with teams including Jordan and Prost, he has also previously served as a test driver for McLaren.

“Nick is an extremely experienced driver and we are confident that his racing knowledge and technical feedback will prove extremely useful to Pirelli and therefore of benefit to the sport as a whole,” said Mercedes GP team principal Ross Brawn.

Norbert Haug, Vice-President of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, commented: “There could be no more experienced and knowledgeable driver in the cockpit to steer the tyre development for next season. We thank Nick for his contribution to our team over the last nine months and wish him well with his new challenge.”

Heidfeld, who is expected to conduct initial testing with Pirelli using a Toyota TF109 car from last season, has no confirmed race drive for next year, but there is already speculation that his new job could make him an attractive proposition for teams eager to access his newly-acquired tyre knowledge.

“It would be great to see Nick in a competitive car in next year's world championship and I am sure his leading role in the new tyre development, in addition to his skills, puts Nick in a good position for the remaining seats in 2011," added Haug.

Pirelli were confirmed in June as Formula One’s new tyre supplier, following Bridgestone’s decision to withdraw at the end of the 2010 season. They will provide all teams with rubber for the next three years, in compliance with existing F1 sporting and technical regulations.