The Brackley based team agreed to release 33-year-old Heidfeld so that he can become Pirelli's permanent tyre development tester.

Mercedes might not appoint a formal replacement for its departed F1 reserve driver Nick Heidfeld.

The Brackley based team agreed to release 33-year-old Heidfeld so that he can become Pirelli's permanent tyre development tester.

The German kicked off his new role at Mugello on Tuesday, with photographs depicting a dark-helmeted Heidfeld driving a white Toyota TF109 with low-key Pirelli signage and unbranded tyres.

Spain's daily AS sports newspaper said reigning F2 champion Andy Soucek, who recently ended his contract as Virgin's reserve driver, is a candidate to replace Heidfeld.

But Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said Mercedes has not decided whether a single replacement for the veteran of 167 grands prix will be appointed.

Turun Sanomat, the major Finnish daily, said the team has no immediate plans to replace Heidfeld.

The appointment of a full-time reserve driver is not required by the sporting regulations, but each teams must field two drivers at each event.

If Mercedes does not appoint a permanent replacement for Heidfeld, it is likely the German marque will nominate a reserve driver on a race-by-race basis.

 

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Mercedes may not replace Heidfeld as reserve driver