Heidfeld to Race for BMW from 2007

Nick Heidfeld will race for the new BMW team in Formula One after agreeing a two-year deal, Autosport-Atlas can reveal, but the contract is currently scheduled to begin only at the start of 2007

Heidfeld to Race for BMW from 2007

The German had been in talks with BAR for several weeks, but in the end his management team have decided that their long-term future in the sport would be best served with the German manufacturer's team behind him.

Heidfeld's current contractual ties to Williams, however, have meant that he could only commit himself to BMW from the start of 2007 - although there is a chance he could join them before then.

That is because Heidfeld is caught up in the centre of the Jenson Button contract row - and his destination in 2006 almost certainly depends on whether BAR or Williams win the fight for Button's services.

Autosport-Atlas understands Williams have an option on Heidfeld's services which runs out on September 15 - the week after the Belgian Grand Prix - although there are rumours that the team have already taken it up.

Williams have not confirmed that fact, but what is certain is that the Button situation will not be resolved by that date.

Button's management team held further talks with Williams chiefs at Monza last weekend but appear to be no nearer a solution.

Richard Goddard, Button's manager, told the Independent on Tuesday: "We've been talking, but there has been no progress so far. Various things have been batted about, but we have definitely not discussed things such as how much or when. We have not yet reached a bartering stage."

Button himself added: "I have been to Grove [the Williams factory] to see Frank and we have talked, but not yet to my satisfaction."

Williams may well have decided that they cannot risk losing both Button and Heidfeld, and that it would be better to take up the option on Heidfeld now as a safety net - with the possibility that the German could then be sold on to BMW for 2006 if they do actually get hold of Button.

BMW motorsport director Mario Theissen said at the weekend, however, that he did not believe Williams would sign Heidfeld solely in a bid to then sell him on.

"I do not have the impression that Frank Williams is interested in money," said Theissen. "He repeatedly has said that he does not consider drivers to be merchandise."

BMW have not yet made any announcement about who their drivers for 2006 will be. Jacques Villeneuve has another year to run on his contract with Sauber, while Antonio Pizzonia, Anthony Davidson and Heidfeld have all been linked with the outfit.

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