F1 Update: Heidfeld signs as Mercedes GP test driver, Alguersuari confirmed at Toro Rosso
The off season in Formula One is nothing if not a big game of musical chairs. Sometimes drivers end up pretty much exactly where they were before the season ended – as were the majority of cases in between 2008 and 2009 – but sometimes everything gets reshuffled. This year things are looking more like the latter as the grid comes closer in to focus until the start of the season.
Following the recent announcement of Spanish veteran Pedro de la Rossa's move from his longtime role as test driver for McLaren to the race seat at Sauber comes the inverse for Nick Heidfeld. The German driver – who has scored a pole position and marked two fastest laps but has yet to win a single race – has spent the majority of his career with the Sauber team, having debuted with Prost-Peugeot in 2000 and spent a season each with Jordan and Williams. This coming season, however, he'll be relegated to test-driving and reserve duties with the championship-winning Mercedes GP team. Heidfeld had been considered a top candidate for the race seat with the newly-christened outfit until Michael Schumacher came in, and was linked to a potential move to Renault alongside his former team-mate Robert Kubica. The announcement from Mercedes GP is expected imminently.
Meanwhile Toro Rosso has confirmed, at long last, that Jaime Alguersuari will remain with the team, driving alongside Sebastien Buemi for the upcoming season. The announcements bring in two of the last remaining few parts of the puzzle, leaving only the empty Renault cockpit and the pay-drive seats at USF1 and the remaining one at Campos vacant.
[Sources: ESPN, Autosport]