During his long career, Nick Heidfeld has competed in various racing series and in each had solid success, confirming that he is a versatile driver.
Nick was born on 10th of May in Monchengladbach, Germany, and was involved in motorsport from an early age, racing motocross bikes with his brothers when he was five. When he was eight, he got his first kart and competed in various regional, national and international championships. At the age of 17, Heidfeld moved to the German Formula Ford and had an excellent debut. He won eight of nine races to claim the title.
The following year, Nick became German International Formula Ford 1800 Championship winner before entering the German Formula 3 Championship in 1996. Again, Heidfeld impressed with three race wins and with the third place overall. If not the biggest, surely the most important achievement for his further career was the victory at Macau Grand Prix. That success later helped Nick to sign a contract with the West Competition team, led by Norbert Haug.
In 1997, Heidfeld won the title in the German Formula 3 championship while in the following year he finished as a runner-up of the International Formula 3000 series, driving for West Competition, and losing the title battle to Juan Pablo Montoya. Good performances helped him to become a test driver for West-sponsored McLaren team in 1999, the year in which he won the Formula 3000 crown. In the same season, Heidfeld also debuted at 24 Hours of Le Mans with Mercedes, but the car he shared with Mark Webber and Peter Dumbreck failed to finish the race.
The year of 2000 Heidfeld will remember as the year in which he made his first appearing in Formula 1 Grand Prix. Nick drove for Prost Grand Prix F1 team, but with an unreliable car, he couldn’t score a single point. In 2001, Nick Heidfeld signed a three-year contract with the Sauber team and surprised many with nice performances. He finished 8th overall and scored a podium finish at Brazilian Grand Prix.
Unfortunately, in 2002, Heidfeld failed to repeat the results from the previous year and finished 10th in the championship. He was 14th in 2003, failing to clinch a podium finish in both previous years, but still scoring some points with a small team and not enough competitive cars.
When his contract expired, Heidfeld was without a seat for 2004. Luckily, he had some noticeable outings in the preseason and the Jordan team offered him a one-year deal. Heidfeld again had a car which wasn’t competitive enough and scored only three points to finish 18th overall.
Despite relatively poor results, Nick still was an interesting target for bigger teams. In 2005, Williams decided to sign Heidfeld and the German driver did a good job, often beating his teammate Mark Webber who was considered as the team’s main driver. That year, at Nurburgring, he also won the pole position for the first time and had three podium finishes – at Nurburgring and Monaco he was second while he finished third at Sepang. Unfortunately, Heidfeld had to miss the last three races that year due to injuries he got during testing, as well as those suffered later on from being hit by a motorbike on his bicycle. With 28 points on his account, Nick Heidfeld finished 11th in the Drivers’ championship.
A bit surprisingly, Heidfeld again joined Sauber in 2006. The reason is that BMW bought the Swiss team and Heidfeld had to be the striking force. He spent four seasons with Sauber and proved that he deserves a place in the most popular racing series. In his first year with the new team, Heidfeld was 9th in the championship, with third place at Hungaroring as the best result. In 2007, he did even better. Nick regularly scored points, finishing in Top 5 in eight of seventeen races. Most notable results were the second position in Canada and third in Hungary.
A stream of good results had continued in 2008. Heidfeld was 6th in the championship, driving very well and establishing himself as a competitive pilot who finished all of the 18 races, only once being out of Top 10. He finished second at four Grand Prix races – in Australia, Canada, Great Britain and Belgium. His last year with BMW Sauber wasn’t so good. Nick had earned a podium finish only once and was 13th in the final standings. The same year, his line of 41 consecutive race finishes was broken in Singapore after a collision with Adrian Sutil, but that number still stands as the record for F1.
BMW withdrew from Formula 1 in 2010, leaving Heidfeld without a ride. He was named Mercedes F1 team’s test driver for that year but in the finish of the season, he had competed in five races, again as a driver of Sauber. The Swiss team, now with Ferrari engine-powered cars, re-signed Heidfeld who failed to impress. In his last year in the competition, Heidfeld drove for Lotus-Renault team. He was third in Malaysia which was the 13th podium in his career, remaining the record for the drivers with most podium finishes without a win. In the middle of the season, Nick Heidfeld was released by Lotus and was replaced by Bruno Senna.
After leaving Formula 1, the German turned his focus to endurance racing. He signed a contract with the well-known Rebellion Racing to drive in the FIA World Endurance Championship. He had some good performances in the WEC, and the one that is definitely most noticeable is the LMP1-L class victory at 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2014, driving alongside Nicolas Prost and Mathias Beche.
In 2013, Heidfeld had a stint in American Le Mans Series in which he was runner-up, even after driving in only four races. He was the winner at Petit Le Mans, second at Long Beach and Laguna Seca and third at Sebring.
Heidfeld was one of those who got a chance to be among the pioneers of the new racing series - Formula E. With the Venturi Grand Prix team in the 2014/2015 season, he was 12th in the championship with a third place in Moscow ePrix as the season highlight, while for the following season, Nick had moved to Mahindra Racing. In 2016, he finished 10th in the final classification.