Ross Brawn, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 2013

Mercedes originally favoured Heidfeld for Hamilton’s seat

2013 F1 season

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Nick Heidfeld was originally favoured by Mercedes to take the seat Lewis Hamilton now occupies, according to one of the players in the contract talks to prise Hamilton away from McLaren six years ago.

The team hired Hamilton as the replacement for Michael Schumacher in 2013. Since joining the team he has won four world championships and is on course to add a fifth this year.

However according to former Mercedes CEO Nick Fry the team’s upper management initially preferred Heidfeld for the seat during negotiations in 2012. Heidfeld, a veteran of 183 grands prix, had split from Renault mid-way through the previous season.

Fry said he initiated discussions with Hamilton’s then-manager Simon Fuller during mid-2011. Talks between the pair about bringing Hamilton to the team began the following summer.

But according to Fry, senior staff at Mercedes were lukewarm at first about the idea of Hamilton driving their car.

“Initially I couldn’t get Mercedes on board with hiring Lewis,” he wrote in his forthcoming book ‘Survive. Drive. Win.’.

“More than once we were sent back to come up with other ideas. For whatever reason, we were told to look at people like Nick Heidfeld again, who was super-keen to get the seat, and repeatedly text me with photos of himself, his family and his dog in a futile bid to pique my interest.”

Nick Heidfeld, Renault, Circuit de Catalunya, 2011
Heidfeld bowed out of F1 in 2011
According to Fry the team also considered Paul di Resta for the seat and Jacques Villeneuve offered his services, despite having fallen out with the team eight years previously, when it branded British American Racing.

The arrival of Niki Lauda as non-executive chairman provided the catalyst to bring Hamilton to the team. Fry said Lauda told him on his first day working for the team in September 2012 to “go and do it and I will ask Mercedes for forgiveness later”.

Hamilton’s move to Mercedes was announced on September 28th.

“Survive. Drive. Win.” by Nick Fry and Ed Gorman will be published by Atlantic Books on October 3rd.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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138 comments on “Mercedes originally favoured Heidfeld for Hamilton’s seat”

  1. repeatedly text me with photos of himself

    It wasn’t just photos, either.

    1. @ninjenius
      Well that’s the most bizarre thing I’ve seen all week!

    2. @ninjenius

      Hahaha.. That’s awesome. I would have never guessed that Nick was a raver at heart… he never seemed to give the impression when he was in the paddock. His stock just went in my books.

    3. @ninjenius
      I’m literally crying.. hahahahahahahaha. wasnt expecting that. thanks for making my morning.

  2. Lauda told him on his first day working for the team in September 2012 to “go and do it and I will ask Mercedes for forgiveness later”.

    You gotta love Niki. He’s definitely missed.

    1. @eurobrun – yep, came to the comments to say just that. It just sounds so much like Niki :)

  3. It’s almost bizarre to think that Mercedes were going to get Heidfeld on board. I really liked Heidfeld.. strong, consistent driver who never got his big break… but at no point in time did I rate his higher than Lewis. Heidfeld would have been a good option for Rosberg’s seat but definitely not Lewis’.

    1. Heidfeld sucked big time.

    2. imagine a parallel universe where we don’t have the Lewis-Nico years, what a disappointment. Heidfeld would have been destroyed by Lewis

      1. Considering how close Nico and Lewis were, he probably would’ve been destroyed by Rosberg too.

        1. Close? Hamilton won 2 to 3 races for every one Rosberg won. For all races where both drivers didn’t have technical issues.

          1. That’s why it’s CLOSE and not equal.

          2. @miani True, if you feel 25% is “close” to 75%, but then your definition of “close” differs wildly from mine. Or I would think most people

          3. WDC 2016. That’s what you can get from actually being close.

          4. 42 x 34 in qualifyings and 39 x 27 in races. That’s far from 25/75%. It’s 56/44% and 60/40%. That’s what I call CLOSE.

          5. @miani You are not taking into account what the technical issues did. But I get were you are (wrongly) coming from yes. You look plainly at the scorecard.

          6. @magon4 No that’s what you get when the better driver has 6 races influenced by technical issues and the other has none. That’s not “close” that’s “luck” (good or bad)

          7. Technical issues 1. Monza blowup whilst leading. 2 abu dhabi ers failure 3. Singapore steering wheel failure 4. Gearbox failure at Silverstone….Off top of my head thats 4 technical failures for Rosberg where Hamilton had no issues in same race… I bet theres more thats just a part of f1. Thats why it sounds so stupid when HAM fans cry bad luck etc…. Its same for everyone but you only see it when it happens to Lewis. Heck Malaysia 2016 Vettel torpedoed Rosberg to dead last on 1st corner…… But oh poor Lewis!!

            That’s why people laugh at the HAM ‘victim’ or ‘bad luck’ stories, & between him and his fans boy do we get hit with them nonstop lol.

    3. Heidfeld would have been a LOT cheaper, and good enough to win a WDC in that car or atleast back up Nico.

      1. Drop Sochi, equally, for all the hype that was built up around Kubica whilst he was at BMW-Sauber, when you look at it, Heidfeld arguably actually had the better record of the two whilst he was there – and if Kubica was considered to be fit for a top team, why not Heidfeld?

    4. I guess their thinking was that Rosberg would do the winning and Heidfeld be the solid wingman @todfod. Given the car they brought, we might have had Rosberg as a 4-5 time champion!

      1. @bascb

        Probably.. but I’m surprised that Mercedes would keep the bar so low on their driver line up – Rosberg as #1 and Heidfeld as #2 is a strong line up for a midfield team .. not a team aspiring to be a front runner.

        Given the car they brought, we might have had Rosberg as a 4-5 time champion!

        Still doubt Rosberg would have won so many championships.. Maybe Vettel and Heidfeld would nick one or two off him.

        1. @todfod Rosberg crushed Schumacher though. For three seasons. So they might have thought more highly of Rosberg than you think.

          Heidfeld is a solid driver. He pretty much destroyed Kubica over their seasons together. Apart from that one season when the BWM car was actually good. So yeah that looked bad, but for people looking at the total picture, Heidfeld looked pretty good.

          What Hamilton did in 2018 was bizarre. I truly doubt any other driver currently in F1 could have done that. Ferrari had the faster car for most of the races and Hamilton just destroyed them and then mostly Vettel. People rate Verstappen, but Hamilton just kept the pressure on for the whole season and was almost faultless. We are yet to see if Verstappen could do something even remotely at that level. Races like Brazil 2018 and Spa 2019 would indicate otherwise. Monza was poor too (running into the back of the pack at the start).

          2017 Hamilton also helped Vettel crack under pressure.

          So I agree I doubt that Rosberg or Heidfeld would have won 2017 or 2018. 2019 perhaps. Or who knows Mercedes would have had enough by now then.

          1. What Hamilton did in 2018 was bizarre. I truly doubt any other driver currently in F1 could have done that. Ferrari had the faster car for most of the races and Hamilton just destroyed them

            No they didn’t. Just as they didn’t at Spa and Monza just gone.

            If Hamilton was that good, he wouldn’t have let Alonso beat him regularly in the 3rd rate Ferrari. One lucky title in 6 seasons at top team. Verstappen has beaten him in the slower Red Bull several times now.

          2. @f1osaurus

            He pretty much destroyed Kubica over their seasons together.

            Can’t agree with you there. Sometimes the points total doesn’t tell the whole story. I thought Heidfeld was more consistent and kept Kubica honest, but Kubica had moments of brilliance and an overall pace edge that Heidfeld just didn’t have.

          3. @todfod I’m not talking about points. Indeed Kubica had moments of brilliance, but only when he felt like it. Heidfeld always performed well.

            The end result was that Heidfeld was in front of Kubica more often than the other way around.

      2. @bascb @todfod I reckon what would have likely happened is that Hamilton signs a new 2-year contract with McLaren, while Mercedes would have kept a Rosberg-Heidfeld partnership for 2013 and possibly 2014, with Rosberg winning the 2014 championship. However, Mercedes have concerns about if Ferrari with Alonso, McLaren-Honda with Hamilton or Red Bull with Vettel and Ricciardo could topple them for 2015 and beyond, and decide to sign one of Vettel, Hamilton or Alonso, all of whom are unhappy at their respective teams. I think the most probable will probably end with Hamilton deciding to wait and see how Honda turns out, Alonso moving to Mercedes, and Vettel moving to Ferrari. Hamilton, unhappy at McLaren-Honda, pushes hard for a Red Bull seat for 2016, but Horner and Marko are looking to promote this young gun known as Verstappen and choose to reject his advances.

        1. The way things had turned out at Mclaren, I believe Hamilton would rather have sat out a year than go back there.

      3. Which is exactly why I rate Vettel as the “worst” of the multi-time F1 champs and below many one time champs including Rosberg (who cracked less under pressure).

        1. You would be wrong.

          1. @magon4
            Maybe Hakinnen is at the same level… among the two worst multiple F1 champs.

          2. @todfod just out of curiosity: since when have you been watching the races?
            and: how do you rate michael schumacher?

          3. @magon4

            I’ve probably missed watching a dozen or so races in past 23 years.

            and: how do you rate michael schumacher?

            Highly. He took the battle with Hakinnen, in a far superior McLaren, down to the wire in 98 and most of 99 (when he didn’t have a leg injury). Schumi finally beat him in to retirement in 2000. Hakkinnen was flattered by his machinery, the same way Vettel was in the Red Bull.

            Sorry.. do you have a point you were trying to make?

          4. no, I was just interested, actually. I think we cover a similar era, I’ve been watching since 1989, and very regularly since 1994, missing the same amount you have over those years. @todfod
            I do disagree with you about both Hakkinen and Vettel, whom I probably rate higher. Would love to argue it with you, also based on their career paths and real strength of their winning cars; peer evaluation shouldn’t be disregarded completely, too…

          5. @magon4

            I’m not saying they are bad drivers. I’m comparing them to an elite league – Multiple world champions. This weeds out single champs like Villeneuve, Hill, Hunt, Button etc. Although I don’t know much about the calibre of F1 champs before the mid 1960s, since then, the multiple world champions have all been really solid drivers. If I had to pick a bottom two, I’d have to pick Hakkinen and Vettel.

          6. @todfod got it.
            I still hope for some Vettel redemption in the next years, as I believe there are reasons for his many errors (his pace has mostly been pretty good, even in Monza).

            Emerson might make that list, too, maybe even Nelson. And as legendary as Niki Lauda was, he was rarely really fast.

            But I agree that Vettel and Hakkinen are in that group.
            Alonso is not much above them, though… ;)

          7. @magon4

            If I had to pick a bottom three it would probable include Piquet with Fittipaldi as close 4th.

            Alonso is not much above them, though… ;)

            I’m probably biased, but I would rate Alonso just a few notches lower than Hamilton in the multiple WDC winners list. That’s an argument for another time though.. ;)

          8. @todfod I think you are underrating Button though. He really was much better than people give him credit. The reason he won 6 out of the first 7 races of 2009 was not “just because he had the fastest car”. Barrichello had the same car and Vettel’s car was for at least half of those races just as fast, but Button kept his car on the road and out of other cars as opposed to Vettel.

            Keeping that consistency while under pressure like that is no mean feat.

          9. @f1osaurus

            Don’t know man. He was outperformed by Rubens Barrichello for the entire second half of the 2009 season. His lack of versatility in a car that doesn’t perfectly suit his needs was apparent for the last 9 races. He took only one or two podiums in the last 10 races of the season IIRC… in a car that should have been at least fighting for the podium on every race weekend. He was brilliant in the first half of the season and below mediocre for the second half.

          10. @todfod Sorry, but you really have got that all wrong.

            Perhaps Barrichello scored more points in the second half, but Button finished 5 times ahead and Barrichello only 4. They were very closely matched. While Button was playing it safe to bring home his points advantage (which he did!).

            Barrichello also only took 3 podiums! So the car was a lot worse for that second half than you seem to remember.

            They had the car advantage over all teams besides Red Bull for the first 7 races, but they had no budget to develop the car and after that, Red Bull, McLaren and even Ferrari were ahead of them.

            They scored one more 1-2 at Monza, but other than that, they would generally finish around 5 til 7th place. Both drivers!

            Button won that season mostly because Vettel was crashing away his chances, but still Button scored almost perfectly in every race. He could have done better in Valencia since Barrichello won that race, but indeed he had a bad start. Other than that he did the best he realistically could with that car.

            It’s like 2018 where Hamilton really only won because Vettel threw it all away, but still Hamitlon drover pretty much faultless to take the title away from a driver in an overall faster car.

        2. Vettel held off the faster McLarens at Abu Dhabi in 2010 to win the title.

          1. @bigjoe

            Because it was impossible to overtake on that circuit on that day. I don’t see how that changes anything… with the car advantage he had, he shouldn’t have even taken it to the last race. An Alonso or Hamilton would have wrapped up that title with at least 3 races to spare.

          2. @todfod even if the car was as superior as you seem to make it (and with that, rating Webber pretty poorly), you have to take his age into account. That 2010 season wasn’t bad at all from Seb’s, and frankly, anyone’s point of view. Wouldn’t have rated him the best of the pack that season, but one year later, he was the best, and by some margin.

          3. @magon4

            2011 was a solid season for Seb, as was 2013. But 2010… I didn’t think he was as strong as some of his competitors. He made a lot of errors and was being out done by Webber on many weekends.

          4. @magon4

            Interesting that Seb did pretty much as good as job in his dominant car than Hamilton did, yet he is slated so much.
            Mansell did better than both in his dominant car. Hamilton has had off periods in every season he has competed.

          5. @bigjoe

            He did in 2011 and 2013. But not so much in 2010 and 2012. The true difference in class between Hamilton and Vettel is visible in seasons when they didn’t have championship winning cars.

          6. @todfod
            yes that’s true.

            But Hamilton fans refuse to give Leclerc and Verstappen the same credit that he got back then.
            They are not in championship winning teams either. Mercedes are the best team by far and the car is awesome on Mediums in the race. Leclerc helf Lewis off brilliantly in 2 races in a row. The real deal.

          7. @todfod much more than solid. Those were excepcional wins.

            And both Webber + Kimi I rate highly, and they didn’t have a consistent run at Sebastian. One really needs to take that into account.

            2009: Seb 206 x 174 Mark
            2010: Seb 256 x 242 Mark
            2011: Seb 392 x 258 Mark
            2012: Seb 281 x 179 Mark
            2013: Seb 397 x 199 Mark

            TOTAL: Seb 1532 x 1052 Mark
            AVG RBR: Seb 306 x 210 Mark
            Mark 69% of Sebs points

            2015: Seb 278 x 150 Kimi
            2016: Seb 212 x 186 Kimi
            2017: Seb 317 x 205 Kimi
            2018: Seb 320 x 251 Kimi

            TOTAL: Seb 1127 x 792 Kimi
            AVG FER: Seb 282 x 198 Kimi
            Kimi 70% of Sebs points

            Interesting that Seb scored more points with Ferrari in 4 years than Mark Webber at RBR in five – that should give us some indication that the RBR wasn’t as superior as some make it sound. And that the Mercedes had a much bigger advantage in 2014-2017 is, in my view, out of question.

            In total, Seb has scored 3088 points since the 2008 season (using the current point system) against 2277 points of all his team mates (Bourdais, Webber, Ricciardo, Raikkonen & Leclerc).

            I would compare the quality of his team mates to a Jenson Button (who is at a Raikkonen level) or a Nico Rosberg (Webber level).

            So I do admit Seb is at least a step below Lewis careerwise (wouldn’t have said that before 2017), and has even slipped behind Fernando. But he could still turn this around, and he has had a much more than good career, in any measure.

          8. @bigjoe
            If one does a season to season comparison between the two, it was pretty tight until recently.
            And @todfod, Hamilton has rarely been in a car which had no shot at the title.
            The first year this happened was, argueably, 2013. Maybe the only year.
            If you look at the other seasons, even 2011 and 2013, he was in the fight until the summer.
            And I am convinced McLaren actually had the better car in 2012.

    5. They could have hired Heidfeld and still won every championship since 2014 – simply a fact. To be honest, they could have put Max Chilton in the car and still won every championship. Thinking about it, they could have put my 5 year old daughter in the car and still won every championship.

      Has there ever been a driver less important than a Mercedes driver in winning a world drivers championship?

      1. @Ferrari had the fastest car in 2018…so unless you think Vettel is so poor, Nick wasn’t winning 2018. And 2-017 the Ferrari was too far off the Merc, so again, i doubt a near 40yr ol Nick would beat Vettel.

        AMuS: Ferrari quickest on 11 tracks, Merc 10 (2018).

        The fact that Bottas finished behind Vettel in both 2017 & 2018, show that it needs more than a middle tier driver to win in the Mercs 2017 & 2018

        1. Edit * And 2017, the Ferrari wasn’t too far off the Merc…

          1. @amam

            Mercedes were the best team by far in 2017 and 2018. Stop spreading lies.

        2. @amam Actually AMuS claims Ferrari was fastest in 11 races vs 9 for Mercedes.

          And then AMuS is wrong too. They only looked at quali pace. When race pace is just as important if not more.

          If they consider USA a draw then clearly France was a draw too. As was Japan. Vettel simply messed up in France and the whole of Ferrari messed up in Japan., but especially Vettel (spins in Q3 and crash during race)

          USA wasn’t a draw though. Perhaps in quali they were equal, but Ferrari was much easier on the tyres and thus faster in the race.

          In Austria Mercedes didn’t even finish. So how is Mercedes fastest? It just makes no sense.

          Singapore, Ferrari was fastest all weekend (and Red Bull was faster too), but Ferrari royally messed up in quali. Fastest car nonetheless.

          So in Brazil, Japan and France they were equal. Austria, Singapore and USA need to be added for Ferrari (which makes it 14 races fastest for Ferrari). And then Mercedes is left with Abu Dhabi, Russia, Spain and Australia where they indeed were clearly faster.

          So it was more like 14 for Ferrari vs 4 for Mercedes.

          Even if you add the “equal” ones to Mercedes, it’s still 14 vs 7 for Ferrari

          1. AMus do look at race pace too….their analysis is usually very detailed & in depth. But yes, Ferrari had the fastest car in 2018.

            It’s keith on this site that only looks at quali pace.

          2. @amam Well they clearly didn’t look at race pace at all if they say Mercedes was faster in Austria or USA.

          3. Ferrari had 0 pace whatsoever in singapore 2018, they got overcut by verstappen if you don’t remember, or undercut, anyway didn’t have the pace to avoid it.

          4. Quali pace is very decisive when you’re in a car that’s almost impossible to overtake in some tracks.

          5. @miani Perhaps, but that was not valid for the Mercedes. So what’s your point? It looks like you are just randomly blurting things out.

            Or are you going to argue that Mercedes was impossible to overtake in Austria. They didn’t finish the race!

          6. @f1osauru

            Mercedes were far the best team in 2018. get over yourself.
            They’ve just been bigged up like no other in Spa and Monza, yet Mercedes caught them easily on race pace.
            Get out more and stop defending Hamilton every time a better driver beats him in a slower car/lesser team.

          7. @f1osaurus

            Ferrari were a poor team in 2017 and 2018.

          8. @bigjoe Well I agree that Mercedes was the best team and they clearly had the far superior driver. However, Ferarri had the faster car.

  4. They say Niki played a big role in getting Lewis to Mercedes. But Niki himself joined Mercedes on the same date Lewis’ move was announced.

    How did Niki convince Lewis if he himself didn’t have info on Mercedes’ engine program?

    1. Afaik NL’s involvement long preceded his formal involvement.

      1. Yes, didn’t Lauda represented Mercedes at the Concord meetings with Bernie when it was uncertain Mercedes would continue for a number of reasons? Probably not true but the story was Bernie said sign a big name driver and the rest of the talent and money you need will follow. Lauda said who, and Bernie said I have just the man.

  5. Not too far fetched. Lewis was going through his petulant phase back then. He crashed in 2011 like crazy. I can see why they were a bit too reluctant to take him.

    1. Even during those “petulant” and crash phases, he was still winning races and securing pole positions, so was still a better option than all those mentioned.

    2. @panagiotism-papatheodorou What are you talking about ? Lewis had less than four crashes that year in 2011 and some where Massa’s fault.

      1. Gotta love a bit of race fan revisionism

      2. he had 3?

      3. Please tell him . He don’t understand formula1

      4. @panagiotism-papatheodorou @noname I agree about Massa. Lewis drove really well in 2011 – he actually changed his driving after that but mostly because he realized that the other drivers aren’t anywhere near his level in terms of wheel to wheel racing. In 2011 he was still driving with the expectation that the others were at his level, which he soon realized was not the case.

        Nowadays, you see Lewis trying desperately to avoid the other driver.

        The only driver he trusts to race around are Kimi and Fernando.

        1. @freelittlebirds Hamilton was to blame for some incidents. Monaco he was quite poor with several unnecessary incidents, and then he made a huge error in judgment at Spa. He was weaving all-the-time on the straights in Malaysia, which led to a penalty. He tried a divebomb on Webber into Turn 1 in Canada, which ended with Hamilton losing several positions. People forget how Hamilton basically did a “Vettel in Monza” during the 2011 Hungarian GP, when after spinning, he decided to rejoin the race unsafely, almost taking someone out. The Singapore contact was his fault, the one in Japan was mainly his fault, by doing “a Leclerc” this time. So I don’t get what you imply when you say that his wheel-to-wheel racing was not a problem, and everyone was just on a level below. I didn’t see the likes of Alonso or Button being involved in so many incidents. The one point I agree with you is that he did change his driving after this. But not because he was always innocent.

          1. @mashiat I’m not saying Lewis wasn’t to blame for some incidents. I don’t recall every incident.

            As for Hungary, that was not unsafe, he did a 180 turn on the inside at a very slow corner…

            As for the Webber divebomb – that’s actually a pretty nice move. If anything Mark lost his cool there and turned into Lewis.

          2. @freelittlebirds You can’t expect a driver, in full-wet conditions, to be aware of what’s behind him whilst staring the apex of a corner. Hamilton should have had the foresight to see that Webber was never going to see him in his mirrors, especially when going into a corner like T1 where braking distances are so short. Webber was running his own line, which he had the right to do. Hamilton took a risk, and it failed. Nobody to blame but himself. And as for Hungary, Hamilton did a 180, but it was from the inside line to the racing line. That is a punishable offense, which the stewards also agreed with.

          3. @mashiat Lewis was planted in the racing line out of a chicane – what could he do but turn? It’s not his fault that a Force India stayed on the line and a McLaren came inside. Was he supposed to do a turn leaving the outside racing line open?

            Maybe the stewards should have gone out and tried that spin to see if it’s feasible before dishing out a penalty. Oops, it’s impossible to do, we tried it 1,000 times and failed. Lewis didn’t have to stay there either as it was too dangerous for him and his car was backing up.

            You could have easily given him a penalty for staying there and impeding all the drivers while risking their lives and his. It was a drive through penalty too – crazy stuff :-)

            That’s very different from Vettel who spun into a safe area and wasn’t in backward motion after spinning.

            As for Webber, it’s a F1 race – people will pass you. If Lewis is close to any driver in the rain, then that driver needs to know that an overtake is imminent. It’s like being a goalie against Messi and not expecting him to take a shot on the goal when the ball is on his left foot in the box.

          4. @freelittlebirds Hamilton wasn’t penalized for doing a 180, he was penalized for the timing he did it in. He should have waited for clean air as Vettel should have. I’m not saying Hamilton’s was as severe as Vettel’s, but it wasn’t great.

          5. @mashiat This is exactly the point @freelittlebirds was making. In this case Hamilton had exactly the same battle with Schumacher at Casino and both survived. He goes through the same with Massa and instead of taking his loss, Massa simply drives into Hamilton.

            Massa is simply an inferior driver while Hamilton and Schumacher were able to battle without crashing.

          6. @f1osaurus A driver can’t blame others if he takes a risk that relies on others being complicit and it backfires. Hamilton himself should know that better than anyone, given some of the statements he has said in the past after going wheel-to-wheel with Rosberg. And he was right. If Rosberg wants to try and overtake him around the outside and is hung out to dry on the exit, it’s up to Rosberg to learn that you can’t expect everyone to play nice with you, especially if they don’t have to. And trying to divebomb Massa into the hairpin given your history was not a smart thing to do. Neither was cutting across Kobayashi in Belgium. But he is not the same driver anymore.

          7. @mashiat There was no history. Or rather the only history Hamilton had at that point was with Schumacher and they both let each other live.

            Massa, Maldonado and Perez do not. They rather crash than be overtaken. It’s that filthy driving which started to kill F1. So Hamilton wisely stopped overtaking.

          8. No penalty for outrageous weaving in Malaysia, it was the Schrödinger flag. Which had not been used for decades I believe

          9. @f1osaurus

            “What Hamilton did there goes beyond
            boundaries,” “He is completely mad. If the FIA does not punish him, I do not understand the world anymore. At some point, there has to be an end to all the jokes. You cannot drive like this – as it will result in someone getting killed.”

            Niki Lauda -2011

          10. @bigjoe Yes Lauda made some stupid remarks. Button has a poor exit of the chicane and Hamilton is alongside. Button puts Hamilton in the wall on the straight. How on earth is that Hamilton’s fault?

            In fact the stewards were going to penalize Button, but they didn’t because they couldn’t prove that Button knew Hamilton was alongside.

        2. The only driver he trusts to race around are Kimi and Fernando.

          This is so true!

      5. @noname regardless of the number of crashes he had 2011 was an off year for lewis which is what allowed jenson button to best him in the championship standings.
        While jenson was staying out of trouble & grabbing regular podiums Lewis was having silly incidents & struggling to find the podium.

        Button finished 2nd in the championship with 270 points, Lewis was 5th with 227.

        1. @roger-ayles Yes well when Button puts Hamilton into the wall in Canada and then goes on to win the race himself (instead of Hamilton) then that almost covers for the whole point difference.

          1. @f1osaurus

            Your entire comment is utter stupidity.

            First of all, there is no way of knowing that Hamilton would have won the Canadian race had he still been running. Button was at times running 2 seconds per lap faster than everyone on track, including Vettel – there’s no reason to assume he also wouldn’t have been faster than Hamilton even if he was still running.

            Secondly, you get 25 points for a race win. So how exactly does that cover the whole point difference, which was 43???

          2. @nick101 Both McLaren cars were setup for wet driving. Also, Hamiton was getting ahead of Button and he’s in general a great wet driver. Button not so much. Button is fabled for some lucky wins with gambles on tyres. In this race he actually made a total hash of his tyre selections, but people easily forget this.

            Button was not running significantly faster than anyone either. He needed 4 safety cars to undo himself being a lap down(!), because of all the dumb tyre changes he had made. He also rammed off the other contender for the win (Alonso) and then only Vettel was left. Who is notoriously poor under pressure.

            One more safety car to close the gap between Vettel and Button from 30 seconds down to 5 seconds and presto, Vettel spins off.

            Button closed a 5 second gap over 10 laps at the end of the race. That’s not even remotely close to 2 seconds a lap. On the other had, Button lost 16 seconds to Vettel over the same 10 laps a stint before. That’s a lot closer to being 2 seconds a lap slower! But then the Safety car wiped that out for him.

            25 points more for Hamilton and 7 points less for Button. So that leaves only 11 difference. ie almost the whole difference already in that one shunt.

            When you talk of stupidity, at least show that you are able to read … and understand … and don’t post utter nonsense like pretending that Button was 2 seconds faster.

        2. @f1osaurus yep, Canada helped Button get P2 in the championship.

          1. Lol spot the deluded HAM fans……

    3. “What Hamilton did there goes beyond all boundaries,” . “He is completely mad. If the FIA does not punish him, I do not understand the world anymore.
      At some point, there has to be an end to all the jokes. You cannot drive like this – as it will result in someone getting killed.”

      Niki Lauda – 2011

  6. And to make the plot even more interesting; Lewis went to Red Bull first to ask for a seat, but unfortunately (at the time) there was no seat available, so Helmut went to his best friend Niki and started hyping up Lewis.
    The rest is history, lol.
    Imagine us, sitting here, celebrating (or not) 5 time WDC Rosberg……

    1. Rosberg said he’s main aim was to win 1 WDC, so he probably would’ve have retired after winning it in 2014. Even if he stayed on, i don’t think he would’ve beaten Vettel over the course of 2017 & 2018

      1. With less pressure, no way he walks away after just one if he did it in 2014.

      2. No he wouldn’t have. Rosberg also said he retired because he wants to spend more time with his family, yet he’s still turning up at the races.

        1. Newsflash : Everyone at an f1 event spends as much time on f1 during a year as a f1 race driver! Credit: KGN11 for this genius insight.

      3. I think the main reason he retired was the mental effort it took to beat Lewis in 2014.

        With Heidfeld next to him, he would have comfortably taken the 2014 title, and I’d imagine he’d have, at just 29 years of age, continued to take the next 2 WDCs too.

        And for what it’s worth, if he did stay on, I think he would have beaten Vettel to the last 2 titles as well.

        1. Ferrari had the fastest car last year. So Rosberg is good enough, in a slower car, to beat Vettel in a faster, more reliable car?

          1. Ferrari and Mercedes were neck and neck for abut two thirds of the year, before Mercedes pulled away in terms of development towards the end of the year. I think Rosberg would have beaten Vettel to the title last year, especially if Vettel was making the sort of errors he did make in this scenario.

            And even if the cars were evenly matched for the entire year, and cutting out Vettel’s mistakes, I think it would still be too close to call. Rosberg is a massively underrated driver, in my view.

          2. Ferrari was the fastest car for 2/3rds of the season, Merc only caught up after Singapore. With Vettel have best reliability & the slightly better car, i think that would be too much for Rosberg to overcome. Vettel probably wouldn’t have made so many errors if he knew Rosberg, as opposed to Hamilton, was in the Merc seat. It was the pressure of knowing Hamilton was there that weighed on Vettel

        2. @kevinc
          @amam

          In my opinion Vettel and Rosberg are very similar drivers. Both are exceptional qualifiers but only good racers. I suspect Rosberg, without Hamilton, would have done with the Merc what Vettel did with the Red Bull.

    2. I think that Niki was a man who made up his own mind based on his own opinions and observations.

  7. I seem to remember that Heidfeld was almost signed in 2010 to partner Rosberg before Schumacher decided to go for it. Perhaps they felt they owed him something.

    I actually rated Heidfeld who always did a solid job against strong team-mates. As people have said above though, at any point in time, I’d take Hamilton over Heidfeld if offered both.

    1. He had been, up to a point, but frankly, I can’t see how Heidfeld could be considered for a good-to-great drive when he had barely outraced Vitaly Petrov with Renault (after Kubica really, but really trounced Petrov in 2010). Not to mention, a whole calendar year on the sidelines.

  8. In fairness, not like Heidfeld or di Resta would’ve done all that worse.

    1. Rosberg would be a multiple champion…nobody needs that

  9. and Jacques Villeneuve offered his services

    I wonder how that conversation went.

    1. JV: “Hey Mercedes, I hear on the grapevine you are building a monster of a car for 2014, controversial Jacques would love to drive it for you.”

      Merc “I bet you would.”

      JV: “So shall I come to Brackley to sign my contract and have a seat fit?”

      Merc: “No.”

      …conversation ends…

  10. Think about this. Instead of Vettel Vs Hamilton we could’ve had Heidfeld Vs Maldonado.

    Just. As. Exciting!

  11. Kimi Raikkonen was also free 2011.

  12. That would have made Rosberg a 5 time world F1 champion and in contention for a sixth title. Imagine the youtube channel of Rosberg a six time WDC. I have nothing against Rosberg the driver, he was good and managed to get under Lewis’s skin many times but he’s becoming pathetic as hell lately.

    1. Robserg would be a 3x WDC…4 after this year.

      Vettel would be a 6XWDC- winning in 2017 & 2018

    2. That’s only if Hamilton leaves the sport. It’s probable that he would have ended up at Ferrari and then given a stronger test to Mercedes in 2017 and 2018.

    3. 2014 – Rosberg
      2015 – Heidfeld
      2016 – Rosberg
      2017 – Vettel
      2018 – Vettel

      Dollar to a dime that’s how it would have gone down. Vettel would be on 6, Rosberg 2 and immediately quit, big revelation would have been Nick Heidfeld nicking the 2015 WDC through a combination of poor reliability on the other car and bedding into the team after a lacklustre 2014 campaign.

      All this is dependent on Lewis staying at McLaren…

  13. A good example of why you don’t leave such decisions to the faceless corporate bureaucrats.

  14. Imagine Nico Rosberg 5 time world champion by now, and Lewis going down Alonso track. Maybe just maybe last year Vettel would be champion, who knows.

    Clearly Mercedes would have a WDC, I just don’t se Nick doing it, but Nico easy with that car.

    1. Or, if Hamilton didn’t go to Mercs, he goes to Ferrari & he wins in the fast Ferrari 2017 & 2018 and becomes a 3xWDC?

      1. Sorry hadn’t seen you had already written it when I wrote my exact same comment. Great minds etc. @amam

    2. Nick beat or matched every other teammate, including strong Webber and Kubica, why not Nico?

      1. Nick was too old by then….nearly 40

      2. He had barely outscored Vitaly Petrov in 2011 (and lost the qualifying battle 8-3, and Heidfeld’s “wins” were usually very close affairs).

      3. The one year he was in a good car, Kubica got the win and more podiums.

        Many other years he was teamed with rookies or level with drivers with less experience.

        1. @hobo It was team orders that gifted the Canada win to Kubica.

  15. In this alternate reality, what I mostly wonder is what happens when Mercedes eventually drop Heidfeld for not being quick enough, let’s say…. in 2014, when Nico is clearly headed for his first WDC (and a 4X WDC German is still having a bad year with RBR).

    We could be talking about 7X WDC Vettel (still giving 2016 to Nico), and that feels significantly more outrageous than any suggestion so far.

    1. Or if Hamilton & gone to RB at the start of 2010, he’d have got 4 championships….moves to Ferrari when the regs change in 2014, wins in the Ferrari 2017 & 2018… Hamilton 6xWDC!

      All this what if, what if….pointless

  16. i always felt that nick heidfeld was one of the most underrated/underappreciated drivers of the last 20 years who never really got the opportunities he maybe could have.

    in the same teams he was a match for kimi raikkonen and beat him in the 2001 standings, he thrashed felipe massa, surprised mark webber & would have finished ahead of him in the 2005 standings had he not missed the final races & in the 3 years he was team mates with robert kubica he finished ahead of him in the 2007 & 2009 standings & was generally a lot closer to robert’s performance than people like to remember.
    i don’t remember why he got dropped from renault in 2011 but he was ahead of petrov & bruno senna didn’t do better over the last few races so that decision wasn’t exactly the best thing to have done.

    he’s clearly not as good as hamilton of course but i still think he was good enough to win races & in the right circumstance a championship or 2 and the mercedes clearly would have given him that opportunity.

    1. All F1 drivers are somewhat good. Then there are a few who are even better than most. Nick was somewhat in the “all are somewhat good” category.

      I am certain all current drivers given enough luck and good equipment could take a win. But some can take 10 wins a season and not always due to favorable conditions.

      Nick was not in that category. Nico Rosberg for example dominated older Schumacher, stole a championship off Hamilton. Petrov, Bruno Senna were not really drivers he could be proud of beating.

      He is like Nico Hulkenberg, and just about 10 other current drivers. At no point he was spectacularly quick.

  17. Interesting discussion. I think Rosberg is given too much credit, I think he ended up at the level he was because of Hamilton. No doubt he would’ve taken the 2014 title possibly, but we’ll never know how Heidfeld would fair in the car.

    2011 was not a good year for Hamilton.

    I don’t have much confidence in Vettel winning anything in this era, it just hasn’t been kind to him.

    1. Good point. People forget that it was Hamilton’s data that helped Rosberg raise his game. Without it, how good of a
      driver would Rosberg be if he never Had Hamilton as his teammate? This is another reason to believe why Vettel would’ve beaten Rosberg 2017 & 2018 without Hamilton in the Merc

      1. But he did raise his game. Look at Bottas, he cannot raise his game, even with Hamilton data.

        But that was about it. Rosberg was able to “cope” with Hamilton for a few seasons, giving his all and besting him over one season. There are a lot of drivers who cannot come even close.

        Could Heidfield best Rosberg then? Who knows, but one of them would be champion and my money would be on Rosberg.

        1. Rosberg was able to “cope” with Hamilton for a few seasons, giving his all and besting him over one season

          No. Rosberg never “bested” Lewis over any season. Rather, he won a championship due to fortuitous circumstances in 2016. The two are not the same.

          This would be like claiming Irvine “bested” Schumacher in the 1999 season. Ridiculous, isn’t it?

          And in that same season, Lewis won more races, had more poles, more FLAP, and even led more laps. He was ahead in EVERY single metric, and even voted as the best driver of that season by F1 fans, team principas, and various F1 magazines/publications.

          So exactly how did “best” Lewis?

          No matter how much we try to rewrite the 2016 season, the facts speak for themselves – and they say that despite Rosberg winning the 2016 specific circumstances, he was still voted the 3rd best (some publicationspput him as low as 5th) driver that year.

          1. ‘Its the same as 1999’…… Just wow! 🤪🤪 No complaints about all Nico’s technical issues in 2014, 2015 that ‘gifted’ (your logic, not mine) Lewis his titles those years? Steering wheel failures from pole at Singapore? Engine blowup whilst leading at Monza? Failures costing points are a part of f1. Far out Sky does a good job of brainwashing you guys.

    2. Teammates share data you clowns…. How many times have we heard HAM asking ‘where am I losing time to Nico’ etc…. But you HAM fans and need an excuse for ANY time HAM isn’t fastest so………

  18. Reading the comments to the initial Hamilton to Mercedes story now is fascinating. So many critics of his decision to leave McLaren.

    1. Nobody knew at the time that Mercedes would become the dominant team – It was just a lucky leap from Lewis. In another reality Merc could easily have done a Toyota – and we’d probably now be talking about a eight time champion Alonso.

  19. Wasn’t Heidfeld overlooked by McLaren when Raikkonnen was preferred as well? It looks like a series of unfortunate timings for ‘quick Nick’. Who knows if he could have had an equivalent career to either of these two drivers had the chips fell in his favour (although I think Hamilton was obviously the better choice for Mercedes with hindsight). Competing with Coulthard and Rosberg in these two seats should have given him a lot higher profile and he’d definitely have wins against his name and even a WDC or two. Ifs and buts…

  20. Nick Heidfeld??? Hahahahahaahaha!!!

    Usually I try not to post nonsensical comments like the one above, but in this case it is wholeheartedly merited!

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