Mercedes sign up experienced Heidfeld as reserve driver

Mercedes GP have announced Nick Heidfeld as the team's test and reserve driver for the 2010 Formula One season.

Heidfeld brings a wealth of experience to the role having been a feature on the grand prix grid for the past decade, during which time he has raced for Prost, Sauber, Jordan, Williams and BMW Sauber.

The 32-year-old completes an all-German line-up at Mercedes alongside regular race drivers Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg.

Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn is confident Heidfeld can contribute greatly to the development of the team's new car, which turned a wheel in anger for the first time at this week's multi-team test in Valencia.

"It's a great pleasure for us to have signed a driver of the calibre and experience of Nick Heidfeld as our reserve race driver and test driver for the 2010 season," said Brawn, whose eponymous team was the subject of a takeover by Mercedes following last year's title-winning campaign.

"Nick has over 10 years of experience in Formula One working with established teams and he will be a great asset to Mercedes GP Petronas."

Heidfeld, a former Mercedes Junior driver, has failed to win a grand prix in 167 starts, although he has amassed eight second-placed finishes since his debut at the 2000 Australian Grand Prix.

He had been linked with a switch to Renault after leaving BMW at the end of last season, but a reunion with former team-mate Robert Kubica failed to materialise as the Enstone-based team instead recruited Russia's Vitaly Petrov.

"I am very pleased to be joining the Mercedes GP Petronas Formula One team," said Heidfeld.

"It's the team which has attracted the most interest in the close season, not only because of the comeback of Michael Schumacher, but also because this season sees the return of the Silver Arrows cars as a Mercedes-Benz works team for the first time in over fifty years.

"Whilst I would of course have preferred a seat as an active driver, I am really proud to be part of the new Silver Arrows team."