"F1 not as bad as people make out", says Heidfeld

Former grand prix driver Nick Heidfeld believes that Formula 1 is not in as bad a state as many observers suggest.

F1 has been surrounded by negativity since the advent of the V6 turbo era in 2014, with complaints ranging from the lack of engine sound, to single-team dominance and poor quality of racing.

While Heidfeld, who scored 13 podiums in an F1 career spanning 12 years, feels there are areas to be worked upon, he reckons the sport is in a better shape than many perceive.

“First of all, I think Formula 1 needs to get out of this negative spiral which it is in, which, for me, is not there for the right reason,’’ Heidfeld told Motorsport.com in an exclusive interview.

“Of course, you can always improve things, but F1 is not as bad as some people try to make out. It still has fantastic cars with fantastic drivers and good racing."

The German highlighted the sport's history, pointing out F1 has gone through many phases of dominance by one particular team, and that the current hegemony of Mercedes is no different.

“Since F1 has been there, there always been teams dominating. And you always try to make things exciting by putting the cars together,’’ he said.

“So you will always have a team which is better than the others.”

Having said that, Heidfeld believes the controversial Drag Reduction System (DRS) makes overtaking too simple and artificial.

“For me what I miss is the sound, and also that the overtaking is too artificial with the DRS,’’ he explained.

“At least we have some overtaking, but sometimes you have one car overtaking the other on a straight and even going back in-line in front of the other.

“It should be just on the last part of the circuit, sliding and then just overtaking. This is what is missing a bit, in my view."

More mechanical grip

In line with the opinion of his Mahindra Formula E teammate Bruno Senna, 38-year-old Heidfeld thinks F1 should give priority to mechanical grip so as to make it easier for drivers to follow another car.

“I think [mechanical grip] will always help racing. Especially since aerodynamic grip is lost when you follow another car in dirty air.

"So, to have mechanical grip and more grip from the tyres is the right way to go.

“It also increases safety, especially the tyre grip. If in a car where you generate more grip from the aero and you spin and go sidewards and backwards, you lose all that.

“If you’ve got big tyres, big grip from tyres, it’s safer and better for racing.”

Regrets over own career

Although Heidfeld was a respected figure in the paddock during his lengthy stint in F1, the German rued his inability to achieve the kind of results he had managed in his pre-F1 career.

"It was not fully satisfying,'' he said. "It was great to have a chance to be in F1 for so long.

"I enjoyed my time massively. It was great driving those cars and working with the teams.

“But as a sportsperson you want to win. My target when I came to Formula 1 was to win the championship, but in the end I don’t even have one victory.

“I regret that, of course, but I did the best I could and still enjoyed it.”

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Nick Heidfeld
Article type Interview