Nick Heidfeld Q&A

Nick Heidfeld came into F1 this year with big expectations. A protégé of Mercedes and McLaren, he spent two years as the team's test driver, and won the FIA F3000 title at his second attempt in 1999.

Nick Heidfeld Q&A

With no chance of graduating to F1 with McLaren, he was loaned to Prost. It's not been a great first season for Heidfeld, who has made little impact either on or off the track. He hasn't been helped by ongoing problems with the AP03, and the deteriorating relationship between the team and its engine supplier.

His best qualifying result was 13th at the Nurburgring, but he was not allowed to start after the car was found to be 2kgs underweight. He outqualified team-mate Jean Alesi at the 'Ring, and also managed that feat in Australia and France, although on both occasions the Frenchman's session was severely compromised by car problems.

Nick hasn't had much luck in the races. He did well to make it to the finish in eighth at Monaco (albeit with only one car behind him), while a fighting performance at Magny-Cours was spoiled when he punted Alesi off. The French veteran has been confirmed at Prost for next year, but there's still no news of the fate of his young team-mate.

Prost had hoped to land a Mercedes engine deal for 2001 and beyond, but that hasn't happened, and Heidfeld is thus no longer such an attractive proposition. And McLaren's recent announcement of an 'open-ended' arrangement with Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard would seem to have scuppered his chances of returning to the McLaren-Mercedes fold in the near future. Adam Cooper spoke to the German youngster about the season to date.



"I would have enjoyed it more finishing further in the front, but it was at least not a boring race. At the start and in the first few laps I had a very good fight with Jean. After that unfortunately I braked a bit too late while outbraking Giancarlo, and turned around Jean. I said that I was sorry and it wasn't on purpose, which everybody saw, and he said things like that happen. It was OK, he's fine with it. I hope not to do it again! After that the car balance was a bit different, a bit more oversteery, and we had to make three pit stops because the engine lost some air."



"There have been some ups and downs. I didn't expect it to be so hard, because people thought that the Prost team would be really up there, and would be in the top five teams, which we didn't manage so far. But on the other hand it looks like we're going in the right direction. I hope we can carry on like this and are able to go for points in the end."



"In the beginning it was the reliability of the car. We were just not able to have good tests and make progress. Since the test before the Barcelona race we improved the car a lot, and you can see that in the qualifying results."



"You always want to be in the best car available, if it's possible. But I was very happy to move up to F1, because it's very hard to find a seat. It looks like that was the best solution for me. Still now I'm quite happy. We just have to work harder and get better results."



"It doesn't matter if it's Mika or Michael or somebody else. It's always not so nice to be lapped!"



"I guess there's less pressure, but I've always said that I would have liked to go to McLaren immediately. People might think that it would have been too big a step, but I'm quite sure that it would have been OK. Definitely I would like to go back one day - I know all the people there, I have a good relationship with them. Mercedes and also McLaren have helped me for the last three years. And it's the World Champion team - there's nothing better you can wish for."



"I think I learned a lot also with David Brown in the F3000 team, the McLaren junior team. I learned a lot about set-up, and especially the English language. I think that was quite important."



"It's always a different thing to test and race. I think you also learn as a driver to go quicker, you go a bit more to your limits, you can watch the other drivers better. Then of course there's the racing, the start, the pressure, all those things."



"I've been able to tell them some things on the car, how the McLaren feels, but it's not like McLaren showed me exactly what they have today."



"Yes, definitely. From the beginning we've had a good relationship. Sometimes of course we try to sit down together, and he tries to help me a lot."



"It's definitely a very good benchmark. He's still very quick, and unfortunately so far he's been quicker in qualifying more often than I've been quicker than him! But it's a good thing to have somebody who is quick so you can compare yourself on the data and on the circuit."



"I hope that's not the case. At the moment the press is quite OK. They've seen that I've won nearly everything before F1, so it can't really be that suddenly I can't drive any more. It was quite good that I was so successful so far. They also know that it's my first year. If I make a mistake like I did in practice at Monaco, I totally see that it was my mistake. It's not good that I did it, but at least I say that it was my mistake, and only by that I can learn from it."



"Yes, for sure. We've started to learn things on the aerodynamic side, and it will be interesting to see how we go on the quick circuits like Monza and Hockenheim. Definitely we have a lack of power, but on the other hand last year the Prost was very, very strong in Monza and Hockenheim, so I hope it will be the same."

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