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Massa surprised Heidfeld was overlooked

ESPNF1 Staff
February 15, 2010 « Vettel agrees big four are on top | »
Felipe Massa thinks Nick Heidfeld should have an F1 drive this year © Sutton Images

Felipe Massa is surprised that his former Sauber team-mate Nick Heidfeld has been left without a race seat in 2010.

Heidfeld had to settle for a reserve role at Mercedes after he failed to land a race drive with any of the 13 teams lining up for 2010. Massa, who will drive for one of the strongest outfits this season at Ferrari, said he was shocked that Heidfeld had been overlooked.

"Why has no one offered Nick Heidfeld a good cockpit?" Massa said to the Swiss newspaper Blick. "If I look at the [2010] field, Nick belongs in Formula One but not as a spare driver."

Heidfeld, who has driven for BMW Sauber for the past four seasons, was a genuine contender for the Mercedes race seat until Michael Schumacher decided to return to F1. Last week he said he "could have signed" with other teams, perhaps Lotus, but opted instead to wait for a decision from Mercedes. It is rumoured that the option of staying at Sauber was then ruled out by team owner Peter Sauber, because Heidfeld openly regarded it as a plan-B. However, in an interview with Auto Motor und Sport he denied that was the case.

"I never said that Sauber was an alternative solution where I only needed to wave my hand and get a contract," Heidfeld said. "My main focus was on being in a top team. There are several reasons why it didn't work out that are partly obvious and partly not. At McLaren I had a really good opportunity, and also at Mercedes, then things happened about which I had no control. When I talked to McLaren, I was fully expecting that Button [who eventually joined McLaren] was staying with Brawn."

Heidfeld isn't expected to get any pre-season testing this year but will attend all the grand prix as a possible substitute for either Schumacher or Nico Rosberg.