Putting Me Through Nightmares
It has only taken seven races, but finally, Robert Kubica has scored his first points of the 2009 season. This is after three retirements, albeit he was still classified in Australia and three non point finishes. Qualifying was a similar story, only getting into Q3 twice, a promising fourth in Australia and tenth in Spain. And whilst Nick Heidfeld has scored a podium, the half points awarded mean he lies on just six points. BMW are eighth in the standings, only ahead of Toro Rosso and Force India.
Every F1 fan expected more from BMW Sauber this year. Slowing down development on the 2008 car to focus on the 2009 and be even better for this year, just after the teams first win in Canada. Who knows what would have happened if the team had continued on with the 2008 car, Kubica could have been a factor for the World Championship in Brazil.
The team are believed to be the second one to start designs and focus on the new regs for 2009, after Honda/Brawn GP. But the year has been miserable, this time last year, the team were challenging McLaren and Ferrari, a win under the belt and Kubica at the top of the Drivers Championship.
Fast forward 12 months, only eight points, just one podium and both drivers in the bottom half of the standings. The team with more retirements as well, including the first non-accident at Monaco since China 2007 with brake failure.
Australia brought false optimism, Robert Kubica powered his way to fourth on the grid, helped by both Toyota’s times being wiped out. The team were competitive in the race, battling with Sebastian Vettel for second, on the optimum tyre compared to Vettel. A slim chance to catch Jenson Button. And then they crashed, the sight of the BMW slam into the wall and the tyre bouncing down the track made me realise, this was not going to be easy.
Malaysia was even more false optimism, the torrential monsoon weather and good strategy calls meant that Nick Heidfeld scored a second place. Unfortunately, the clever planning of Bernie meant only half points were awarded. Heidfeld had got off the mark, but only with four points.
China started the misery, Kubica failing to get out of Q1, qualifying 17th. The race was also painful to watch, the Pole involved in a massive crash with Trulli, but still managed to survive. But even in the rain, there was no pace, Heidfeld coming home 12th, Kubica 13th.
Bahrain was a similar story, a start line tangle meant the aerodynamics were all off, but it still ended up with both drivers finishing last of the finishers. Possibly the worst performance since BMW took the team over.
Spain finally saw some pace, Heidfeld scoring a seventh place. But Monaco saw neither driver get out of Q1. Even being beaten by Lewis Hamilton, who had crashed out half way through that session. The race seemed pointless, sending the drivers on a heavy fuel load they failed to make any impressions and generally looked painfully slow.
Then, the introduction of the infamous Double Decker Diffuser in Turkey. Then we saw some pace from the BMW cars. Easing through Q1, Kubica getting into Q2 and with the heaviest fuel load, qualified 10th. A mixed start, Heidfeld getting ahead of Kubica at the start before falling back. But Robert Kubica managed to get ahead of Raikkonen and Alonso before the first pitstop. Then ahead of Timo Glock to finish seventh, after months of whining about an awful car, Kubica finally has two points.
But why has it taken until June, Round 7, for the BMW to finally looking lively? The first reason is the failure to recognise the possibility of the Double Decker Diffuser. If the team had that from the start, they could have possibly shown similar pace to that of Toyota or Red Bull and at least be competitive.
Also, spending too much time on the development of KERS, which was an ultimately flawed product created by the team. The team used it for two races, it failed to help the team in anyway, and was as quickly scrapped as soon as it began.
The team however can look forward to a hopeful few months, with more points gradually appearing on the board and the odd podium will surely make the team owners happy especially after the diabolical start to the season.
In my eyes, I still want a win, but I’m beginning to recognise that it will require a downpour at some race. But I still will be happy if the team show 100% in the remaining ten races of the season, get more points and at least have a single digit on at least one of their cars next year.
That is if they are still in it of course.