How do you feel when you stand at the edge of the track and cannot ride?
H eidfeld : It's a strange feeling, especially when you've been there like me for ten years. Driving to a test and then not driving yourself is unfamiliar. Nevertheless, the motivation is there to give the team my all.
What can you do for the team?
Heidfeld : There are already things that I can get involved. I've been to the factory in England twice and had a seat adjusted and I also attend the technical meetings. If I think I can add my mustard, then I will. For example, where I've had similar experiences in the past. I certainly do not have a permanent voice, but if I am sure that I can contribute to the solution, I will.
Can you also benefit from the cooperation? After all, you are now working with Michael Schumacher.
Heidfeld : Absolutely. Hopefully this experience will help me further, because I don't want to be a substitute driver forever, even if I'm currently fully committed to my job. I can certainly learn something new if I can work with a seven-time world champion in the cockpit and the master maker Ross Brawn at the control desk. It's super interesting to be there. That was also one of the reasons why I signed with the team.
How big are the chances that you will move up to a regular position?
Heidfeld : Lately, a lot of test drivers have made it back to their jobs. Without wanting to sound presumptuous, I think that I should be in a good position.
In your situation, are you hoping that one of the regular pilots will get the flu?
Heidfeld : As paradoxical as it sounds, no. Of course I would be happy if I could drive, but I don't wish any of my pilots anything bad.
What happens if someone at Sauber, Renault or Toro Rosso gets sick? Can you step in at short notice?
Heidfeld : I don't want to talk about details of my contract. Of course we have considered this scenario. It would certainly be helpful if there was a vacancy in a Mercedes team. But that is neither planned nor the objective.
How do you keep yourself fit for a surprising assignment?
Heidfeld : I will start again with karting and also spend some time in the simulator. I will hardly get into the Formula 1 car. Michael and Nico take care of the test workload.
Wouldn't it be helpful if you drove in DTM races at the same time?
Heidfeld : That's not mine Target. These cars are just too different. You could see that in the difficulty some of my ex-colleagues had with the DTM. I don't want to water down my driving style as long as I think there is still a chance to get back into Formula 1. Le Mans, on the other hand, would be a conceivable alternative, but on the one hand the Canadian GP will take place on the same day and on the other hand Mercedes does not have a Le Mans car.
You had the chance to work with Lotus, but you have further put on the Mercedes GP card. Does that annoy you today?
Heidfeld : I could have signed with a few teams, but my priority was simply to find a place with a top team. From the point of view of that time I would do it again.
Did you underestimate the seriousness of the talks between Mercedes and Schumacher?
Heidfeld : I think so that I was always very well informed about what was going on in the transfer market, even if there were certainly a handful of people who knew more. During this phase I also had contact with Michael. I wanted to know where I am.
One of your options was Clean, too. Do you think that you annoyed Peter Sauber that his team was just a substitute for you?
Heidfeld : I never said that Sauber was a substitute for me, where all I have to do is wave my hand and I have a contract. My main focus was on a top team. There are various reasons why it didn't work elsewhere. Partly understandable, partly not.
They were close to McLaren and Mercedes GP. Then Button and Schumacher got in the way. Are you mad at fate?
Heidfeld : I'm not mad at it. I chose this path because I saw good opportunities for myself. And at McLaren I had really good opportunities. And later at Mercedes. Then things happened that I had no control over. When I spoke to McLaren, I fully assumed that Button would stay with Brawn.
What do you expect from races without refueling?
Heidfeld : For reasons of cost and security, it is understandable that this route was taken. I doubt whether this will make the races more exciting. But we won't see the truth until the races. Often things turned out differently than you had previously thought.
Where are the individual teams?
Heidfeld : Difficult to say.The differences in fuel are so great that it is impossible to find out who was on the road with how much fuel and when.