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Whitmarsh hints Heidfeld could be McLaren reserve

Nick Heidfeld may also be able to count McLaren among his options to remain involved in formula one in 2010.


Until Michael Schumacher’s decision to return this year, the 32-year-old German had been hoping to secure the Mercedes GP race seat alongside Nico Rosberg.

Heidfeld, a veteran of 169 grands prix since 2000 but no wins, was also linked with moves to McLaren and Sauber prior to the finalisation of those teams’ race lineups, and Renault looks likely to put pay-driver Vitaly Petrov alongside Robert Kubica.

It was thought that moving to Mercedes GP as reserve driver was Heidfeld’s last option, but now Martin Whitmarsh indicates there may be a similar opening at McLaren.

According to Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, the Briton – who attended Monday’s Mercedes livery launch in Stuttgart – revealed that Heidfeld was earlier in the running for the race seat alongside Lewis Hamilton.

“We think of Nick very highly, and are surprised that within the German media he is perhaps not so highly considered,” said Whitmarsh.

With Pedro de la Rosa switching to Sauber in 2010, the track debut of McLaren’s new MP4-25 has been put into the hands of test driver Gary Paffett.

Paffett, however, is staying with Mercedes in the DTM series this year, and although the race calendars do not clash, the 28-year-old is not thought likely to attend every grand prix in 2010.

Meanwhile, Whitmarsh denied that, with a driver lineup featuring Hamilton, Jenson Button and Paffett, and Vodafone as title sponsor, Woking based McLaren can now be considered an all-British superteam.

“It was not planned like that,” Auto Motor und Sport quotes him as saying.