2008 Canadian GP preview: BMW

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Last year Nick Heidfeld scored BMW’s best result of the season at Montreal – and 12 months on he badly needs a repeat of that form.

Heidfeld generally held the upper hand over his highly rated team mate Robert Kubica last year.

But Kubica has turned things around with a string of consistent points finishes and might even be leading the championship had he not been taken out of the Australian round by Kazuki Nakajima. Can Heidfeld get back on terms with his team mate this year?

As we all remember it was at Canada last year that Kubica survived the most shocking accident of the season. The way he shrugged off the battering he received and expressed disappointment at being kept from the subsequent round at Indianapolis by doctors as a precaution suggests he will not have any lingering hang-ups about returning to the circuit.

Heidfeld’s problems stem from difficulties in getting his tyres up to temperature for single lap runs in qualifying. At Monaco two weeks ago David Coulthard’s crash meant Heidfeld failed to reach Q3 for the first time this year.

Kubica has out-qualified him at every round and Heidfeld has finished behind his team mate in every race the pair have finished.

Starting further back in the field Heidfeld is inevitably more vulnerable to first-lap incidents and jostling for position. As a result he was squeezed wide at the start at Sepang and hit by Jenson Button at Monaco.

This has been exacerbated by BMW’s usual practice of putting Heidfeld on a heavier fuel strategy than his team mate. But is this the consequence or a cause of his problems in qualifying?

In other words, are BMW putting Heidfeld on heavier fuel strategies because they think it’s the best option for him. Or are they doing it because they realise he’s been having problems in qualifying and that the best they can expect is to get him in the bottom half of the top ten with a reasonably heavy fuel load?

We’ll keep an eye out for answers to these questions this weekend – and signs of any improvement from Heidfeld.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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6 comments on “2008 Canadian GP preview: BMW”

  1. IMHO I feel that Kubica has evolved, adapted better to the big challenges this year while Heidfeld seems to have languished somewhere in the midfield. I think it’s got something to do with inherent talent… Kubica seems to have an ability I’d tentatively comprare to an early Hakkinen or Villeneuve – determination and great at setting up a car for a track. Heidfeld reminds me somewhat of Ralf – some promise, but rare delivery.

  2. With all that Mosley stuff going on I had forgotten there was a race this weekend. Hope the Canadian GP gives us all something new to talk about.

  3. I’m with ya there Noel. I’ve been espousing Kubica’s talent for some time now. I quite like Heidfeld as a driver but I fear that when the dust settles he’ll probably only be remembered as a journeyman driver.

    As for BMW as a team, I’m hugely impressed with them over the last 3 years. They just keep going from strength to strength. I’m hopeful that by the end of the season, they’ll chalk up their maiden victory.

  4. Heidfeld was able to overcome his problems last year when Kubica started applying the pressure but,this year I think Robert has progressed better with the tire temperature situation better than Nick.I hope Heidfeld can take his game up a notch,BMW have the car,the team leader(Mario)and the thirst for the championship but,they need TWO top drivers to do that.

    I am confident BMW will have their maiden win this season.

  5. I can remember back in 2006, just after Villeneuve had left the team, and Kubica arrived, Nick Heidfeld’s race pace somehow miracously improved.
    Kubica has been a great incentive to Heidfeld, a breath of fresh air. A driver, any driver, needs a challenge, a marker, to which to aspire to.
    Heidfeld is experienced, reliable, and firstly, fast.
    Kubica has a point to prove, he is hungry and ambitious,
    not unlike Hamilton or Rosberg. Altogether a very different proposition from Jacques Villeneuve, or the latter day Villeneuve.
    Kubica’s performance at Monaco only enhanced his already substantial reputation as one of the fastest ‘young guns’ on the grid. The BMW Sauber, at the moment, is the next best thing to a Ferrari or a McLaren Mercedes.
    I always liked Heidfeld. Quiet, to the point, and professional. Very effecient, intelligent, dependable, your typical German F1 driver albeit not quite in the Michael Schumacher mold.
    Kubica, for me, is the future. I, personally, would love to see him win the Canadian Grands Prix. How poetic it would be, for his first victory to be at the circuit that so nearly claimed his life last year.
    Now that would put the cat among the pidgeons now wouldn’t it!

  6. Win it Robert! RK will show what a grate driver can achieve in a decent car.

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