Robert Kubica is currently only confirmed at BMW for the remainder of this season, and looking at the Pole’s start to 2008, the Swiss-German squad would do well to extend his contract for as long as they can. However, while Kubica looks to prolong his stay at Hinwil, team boss Mario Theissen has felt it necessary to publicly defend his other driver, Nick Heidfeld. Currently, Robert leads his much more experienced team mate in the championship hunt, and even last year was pressuring the German for points and positions.
So does the four-point difference between the drivers mean that Heidfeld may be given the boot at the end of the year? Well, we are just five rounds into the 2008 season, and Heidfeld has shown consistency, intelligence and determination in his career to date. It is also worth mentioning that Heidfeld is the only German driver on the team, the next closest being Austria’s Christian Klien. As BMW are a manufacturer though, perhaps it makes less of a difference to the team where the drivers come from, but it certainly isn’t a bad thing for Nick that he hails from the same country as BMW.
It is also worth mentioning, that if Kubica does indeed go on to beat Heidfeld in the championship this year, that is in no way a bad thing. Okay, it is for Heidfeld, but for the team, does it really matter who is on top? Providing Heidfeld can continue to score podiums and points, and maybe wins in the future, BMW would do very well in keeping him around as well. In fact Heidfeld’s boss, Mario Theissen, went on record today defending the situation his driver is in.
In the races, however, Nick makes us happy with his spectacular overtaking manoeuvres.
Now we are going to analyse the entire package together with Nick to get to the bottom of the [qualifying] problem. Mario Theissen.
I’m not so sure Nick’s passes are “spectacular”, but the German driver does overtake. In fact, Nick made one of the few overtaking moves (if not the only move) in Spain a fortnight ago.
There is a spanner though, and it could very easily become lodged in the workings of the BMW squad. The spanner comes in the form of Fernando Alonso, and he is by no means a spanner, but instead a double world champion who must be seen as a tremendous asset to any team.
Fernando is rumoured to have a ‘get-out’ clause in his current Renault contract, and although he has denied this, I can’t believe he doesn’t. When the Spaniard re-joined Renault at the end of 2007, he was well aware the car wouldn’t be as great as the last one he drove in 2006. Any driver with any sense would have negotiated a ‘get-out’ clause into the contract, performance-related, perhaps.
Also, Alonso is a racing driver in every sense of the word. He wants to be in the best car at the best time to extract the best from everything, himself included. Clearly the R28 is not the best car at the moment, but the world champion had few choices available last year. But for 2009? Don’t tell me Alonso isn’t looking around at what’s available at the moment? He may not move, but you can’t tell me he isn’t looking!
And thus, we come back to BMW. If Mario Theissen saw the opportunity to put Alonso in one of his cars, would he be able to resist the temptation and stick with the ever-faithful Heidfeld and/or the ever-improving Kubica? I’m not so sure. BMW are one of Formula One’s next top teams – the drivers can see that as can the fans. I’m positive if a berth was available last year, Alonso would have been banging on the doors at Hinwil. Alas there wasn’t, but things change.
BMW have said they will make an announcement on their 2009 driver line-up in the Summer, the deadline for Kubica’s extension expiring in September. I wouldn’t be surprised if Alonso and BMW held talks, just as I wouldn’t be surprised if Alonso joined BMW next year.