Few drivers are looking forward to the Bahrain Grand Prix as much as Nick Heidfeld. While of course everyone else is also raring to go, the added incentive for the German is that he hasn't started a race since Istanbul way back on August 21st. A testing crash followed by an unfortunate cycling mishap while recuperating saw him invalided out of the last five Grands Prix of the 2005 season.
He didn't much enjoy sitting at home watching Antonio Pizzonia race 'his' Williams FW27, but there was some comfort. During his break he was confirmed as a BMW driver for 2006, having already received a longer-term commitment from the manufacturer. He now finds himself with a multi-year deal and a challenging role as a key part of the new project.
BMW didn't know too much about Heidfeld at the start of 2005, but after he finally convinced Frank Williams and pipped Pizzonia to the race seat he didn't waste too much time making an impression. While Mark Webber had the legs of him in qualifying, there's no doubt that Nick showed better form in the early races.
A tangle with Michael Schumacher put him out in Australia, but he turned in a feisty performance on the way to third in Malaysia. Then he had a faultless run to second at Monaco, although a different choice on the pit wall could have given Webber the position. In his home race at the Nurburgring he took pole and, after Kimi Raikkonen's late retirement, earned another second place. Of course there was a little opportunism involved, but others could have run lighter in qualifying and tried his strategy.