Interview with Nick Heidfeld – Mahindra Racing
Formula E testing at Circuito de Ricardo Tormo, Valencia
A big thanks to Mahindra Racing for allowing access to Nick during testing at Valencia.
Tony Hall: Nick, as one of the older drivers in Formula E and with your experience driving in Formula One with various teams, how do you rate Formula E?
Nick Heidfeld: I love it, it’s great fun. If you try to put it in perspective to other series then obviously in terms of lap time, power and downforce it is a lot slower, especially to Formula One, but on the other side it is very challenging. First of all because of the nature of the circuits, nearly all are street circuits and are more difficult than a normal circuit. You have no room for error, also you have a lot more bumps and it is more demanding for the driver but in a positive way. On top of that I think we have a very strong driver line up which I think is comparable to Formula One but there drivers are at their peak but I think on average we have a fantastic field here. Again it makes it fun and challenging.
TH: I noticed that all the teams’ garages seem to have a lot of staff and the paddock is full of equipment. It appears quite a lot of money is available to Formula E. Is that true?
NH: The teams are coming along especially if you compare it to the first season. They were already good but now they are more professional. Also more money is coming in which means more people and technical possibilities. But still in terms of the money put in by the teams compared to Formula One it’s not as much. It is going up but I hope not too quickly for some of the new teams and manufacturers coming in.
TH: Can you tell us how it feels driving a Formula E car compared to driving a Formula One car?
NH: The first thing is there is no noise or a different noise but you soon get used to it. If you would go to a modern circuit like Valencia or a bigger one like Kuala Lumpur with high speed corners then this would feel dead slow and would look slow from the outside. However if you go to another circuit like Punta del Este (Uruguay) or another street circuit then you feel blindingly quick because of the narrow streets, chicanes with kerbs that you have to hit perfectly. Also you have corners that you can do flat out and you slide sideways towards the wall and that makes you feel very quick even though if you look at the data it actually is not. (Nick laughs).
TH: Looking back to your Formula One career. What do you think was your greatest achievement?
NH: My best season was definitely 2007 together with BMW Sauber, because for me I maximized the potential of the car at nearly every race and made very few mistakes and got the best out of it. I think I finished 5th in the championship.
TH: Do you miss it?
NH: Yes, I miss it but a lot less now than I used to a few years ago. What I miss the most is to drive such a fantastically quick high downforce car with the power. Also the fantastic competition and it was great to have so many possibilities working with the team. Formula E is very professional and I don’t want to say if you hear the word money it is a positive thing but in Formula One it gave us so many options. If you had an idea as a driver or engineer it was very quickly looked at and to see if it made sense or not. If it did, then it was built and put on the car and it either improved it or it didn’t and you moved on. Changes were happening so quickly, so many people working on the car. You always had one specialist that you could talk to in detail. It was a lot of fun especially on the technical side of it.
TH: Thank you Nick for your time. We all wish you every success in the forthcoming Formula E championship.