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Theissen Defends Heidfeld As Kubica Negotiates Extension

Theissen Defends Heidfeld As Kubica Negotiates Extension

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.

Oliver White

5 comments

  • Personally, I think Alonso is the fastest driver at the moment. The problem for Hamilton-haters is that this would mean that Hamilton is just as quick (perhaps on Alonso’s settings but that would just show that Hamilton has a bit to learn about setting the car up – the speed is still there). And the only reason for employing Alonso is that he is probably the quickest at the moment.

    So Dr Theissen might want him in the BMW but then the problem becomes which existing driver does he let go? Obviously, it would be wise to avoid another Hamilton/Alonso situation so the good doctor might well retain Heidfeld, rather than risk a scenario in which Kubica proves as quick as their new star. Tricky, isn’t it?

    But the thing may become even more difficult – if the doctor is going to be assisting Heidfeld to get his qualifying right, Nick could begin to beat Kubica again. And, if that happens, BMW would have to drop him to get Alonso! We could have a situation where the best interest of each BMW driver this year is best served by going slower than his team mate…

    Hmmm, that Quick Nick’s a wily old bird, isn’t he? 😀

  • Tricky it most certainly is. I should clarify, Alonso is the probably quickest package driver (I actually think Kimi has more raw speed, the same way I say Hakkinen has more raw speed than Michael Schumacher), but Alonso tends to be quicker overall due to other factors. Also, Alonso is the quickest driver available. Well, sort of available.

    I personally think Theissen is throwing a PR bone at the moment. It’s in the team’s best interest to work with Heidfeld to fix his qualifying issue. It doesn’t mean he’ll retain his drive. Or lose it, for that matter.

  • Last year there were some rumours which said that Alonso had a deal with BMW but Mercedes vetoed it. They didn’t want him to go to their main commercial rival.

    I don’t know if Alonso is the fastest driver on the grid, but he is competitive as hell. In 2005 McLaren’s were faster as in 2006 were Ferrari’s, but he almost always managed to get the 100% or more of the car.

  • Well and nobody has mentioned Mr. Vettel here yet 🙂 When BMW allowed both Vettel and Glock to leave for Toro Rosso and Toyota to race Theissen also made it clear he does not rule out one or both these drivers may one day end up back in BMW … What would be bigger gamble for Theissen ? Bringing in Alonso who is an excellent driver but who does not exactly enjoy not being number one ? Or bring back Vettel, not yet proven, but not yet spoiled and also German ?

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