Pitstop gamble pays off for Heidfeld
|By Jonathan Noble||Sunday, September 7th 2008, 14:24 GMT|
Nick Heidfeld celebrated a "great" third place finish at the Belgian Grand Prix after benefiting from a tyre gamble late in the race.
The BMW Sauber decided to pit to put on intermediate tyres with two laps to go, a risky decision that paid off when heavy rain hit the Spa circuit.
Heidfeld was a lot faster than most of his rivals and, despite having lost several places during his stop, the German recovered to finish in third.
The German admitted it was a risky move.
"It was a hero or zero decision," said Heidfeld. "I was stuck behind cars for most of the race and I had to stop earlier than some of them, including Vettel and Robert (Kubica) for the second stop.
"When it started to drizzle I thought about taking a gamble and go on inters. The team asked me again, but it was a perfect call.
"When I went out and they said two laps to go, I could not see anyone in front of me. They went so slow and I overtook a couple of cars on the last lap.
"The last car I overtook going into Turn 10 blocked pretty hard. I nearly went on the grass in those wet conditions, but I stayed on track. It wasn't really clever, but I got by and it was a great race for me."
Heidfeld's race was nearly over at the start, when McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen crashed into him, making him lose several places.
The German, however, recovered well and made his way back into the points.
"I had a pretty good getaway, better than the row in front," said Heidfeld. "Alonso was a bit better. I decided to go around outside rather than inside but unfortunately Kovy drove into me and I thought I would spin.
"I thought the race was over. The steering wheel bent and I lost a lot of positions but made them back up in the first stint."