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Bahrain 2009: BMW Rue First Corner Incidents

Bahrain 2009: BMW Rue First Corner Incidents

BMW have endured a miserable Bahrain Grand Prix, qualifying in thirteenth and fourteenth and spending the vast majority of the race running around at the back. It is the second race in succession that the Swiss-German squad have failed to score any points, and with the shift in domination leaning towards Brawn, Red Bull and Toyota, BMW cannot afford to lose too much ground to the front-runners. Updates for the F1.09 are apparently arriving in time for the Spanish race in a fortnight, but it could already be too late.

Both Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica suffered front wing damage on the opening lap, requiring them to pit and take on replacement noses. This put the team at a further disadvantage as the drivers had qualified nearer the back than the front. Needless to say, both Heidfeld and Kubica are pretty disappointed with the result today and would like to move on and forget about their races in Bahrain.

The result is a disaster. We were unlucky with the collision in the first corner. At first, I thought the suspension was broken, but I only had to have a new nose fitted in the pits. It is another race to forget. Nick Heidfeld.

My race was destroyed after corner one. I was between Nick and another car. We touched each other and I destroyed my front wing. Then, after the crash, there was a miscommunication with the pit crew. I asked to come in straight away, but was only able to pit after the second lap. Robert Kubica.

Much has been made of Ferrari taking their time in getting their 2009 campaign started, duly achieved by Kimi Raikkonen earlier today with three points going his and the team’s way. But BMW haven’t had the greatest of starts either, and the only reason they are on the points board is because Nick Heidfeld drove a mature race in Malaysia to finish in second.

If we look at the results of both teams for the opening four races, we can see that Kimi Raikkonen has generally improved as the season has progressed, whereas Nick Heidfeld has generally gone backwards, the German’s only saving grace being the second place at Sepang. For Kubica and Massa, the results have been up-and-down, with the Brazilian just missing out in Malaysia and Kubica’s highest finish being P13 in China.

BMW 2009
Results

AUS
(Grid)

MAL
(Grid)

CHN
(Grid)

BHR
(Grid)

Polish FlagRobert Kubica 14th (RET) (4) 19th (RET) (6) 13th (17) 18th (13)
German FlagNick Heidfeld 10th (9) 2nd (10) 12th (11) 19th (14)

Ferrari 2009
Results

Brazilian FlagFelipe Massa 16th (RET) (6) 9th (16) 19th (RET) (13) 14th (8)
Finnish FlagKimi Raikkonen 15th (RET) (7) 14th (RET) (7) 10th (8) 6th (10)

According to the game plan that BMW have been so diligently following since taking over the Sauber team in 2006, they should be mounting a campaign to win the titles by now. BMW should be regularly scoring wins and taking the challenge to the sport’s front runners, previously McLaren and Ferrari. While this plan has been followed since BMW’s debut as a constructor, it appears to have all fallen apart thus far in 2009. Of course, Mario Theissen’s team are far from the extraordinary, with the mighty Ferrari getting off to a slow start and McLaren barely getting much further.

Considering BMW were among the first of the grid to produce an interim car over the winter, and they were said to have been further ahead than anyone else with their KERS, the lack of pace from the Hinwil team is still a little surprising, but that P2 in Malaysia does show promise. If BMW can fix the car with their new aero package and diffuser, they might be able to keep themselves ahead of Ferrari, Williams and Scuderia Toro Rosso. But like their Italian rivals, they need to start qualifying better and finishing more races. Well, Heidfeld is admittedly already doing that, but Kubica could start finding his way to the chequered flag more more regularity.

Oliver White

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