Quick Nick: seatless

The final song in the big game of F1 Off-Season Musical Chairs is fading to silence. Today, Mercedes are expected to confirm Nick Heidfeld as their reserve driver for 2010, while new boys USF1 have secured Argentine racer Jose Maria Lopez, and Toro Rosso have announced they will hang on to Jaime Alguersari.

That’s a whole load of who’s-going-where information to take in, but the important message is this: there’s no race seat for Heidfeld this year. The man they call Quick Nick will be gutted: until Big Schu’s big return, Heidfeld was tipped to drive for Mercedes.

But with Schumacher and Rosberg locking out the Silver Arrows seats, Heidfeld is out in the cold. The 32-year-old might have looked for a return to Sauber, the team he raced for between 2001-03 and again – with BMW backing – from 2006 until the end of last season, but Sauber opted for veteran McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa to partner kamikaze Kamui Kobayashi.

“Nick wants to concentrate fully on his job as test driver and support the regular drivers with his experience,” said Heidfeld’s manager Andre Theuerzeit, speaking to German media. “Nick had focused on having a cockpit with the top teams, but their decisions were rather late. So we’ve gone for another opportunity.”

So it looks unlikely we’ll see Heidfeld racing this year unless, say, Michael Schumacher’s neck injury flares back up. Could explain why Quick Nick gave Big Schu that lovely big metal hat for Christmas…

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