Grapevine: Heidfeld Set for BMW Drive in 2006

Nick Heidfeld is looking increasingly likely to join BMW's new Formula One team next year, with sources claiming a deal could be finalised as soon as today

Grapevine: Heidfeld Set for BMW Drive in 2006

The German has already agreed to drive for the German manufacturer team in 2007 and 2008 but had been previously unable to sign-up for next year because his current Williams team have an option on his services.

That option is due to run out today (September 15) and if Williams take it up then Heidfeld will have no choice but to compete for the team next year before joining BMW in 2007.

However, sources close to the team have told Autosport-Atlas that although Williams plan to take up Heidfeld's option for next year, they will then agree a deal with BMW to sell him on for 2006.

Although Williams' relationship with BMW has been strained this year, concluding a deal with the German manufacturer for Heidfeld's services is vital because it almost certainly has an implication on the team's bid to land Jenson Button for 2006.

With Mark Webber already under contract, if Williams also have a firm deal with Heidfeld then Button's lawyers could easily argue that there is no place for the Briton next year and that he should therefore be released from his contractual commitments.

The team also have no need to keep Heidfeld as a fallback option in the event that they lose Button or agree to sell him to BAR.

They may feel that they do not want a driver on board next year whose long-term future is committed to BMW, and with test drivers Antonio Pizzonia and Nico Rosberg showing considerable promise there are no shortage of drivers ready to step into the race seat year. Another serious candidate is BAR test driver Anthony Davidson.

Heidfeld's manager Werner Heinz told this week's Autosport that the German's future with BMW was dependent on what Williams plan to do.

"BMW want it to happen but we have not signed yet," he said. "It all depends on what happens with Jenson."

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