The BMW Sauber team have admitted that they are reviewing the policy of running test drivers on Friday practice on race weekends. At the first two race weekends of the season, Sebastien Vettel was seen at the wheel of the car during the opening practice sessions, however drivers Heidfeld and Kubica felt the loss of mileage was harmful to their race preparations.
Despite their change of plan, team boss Mario Theissen is keen to keep the team’s youth programme. At the Bahrain Grand Prix, both test drivers, Vettel and Glock, had their own race programmes to follow, allowing both Heidfeld and Kubica a full day’s practice. Theissen said that in future, both drivers would be following this pattern and having a full day’s practice. He added that he wished the young drivers would have a chance at a taste of F1 without compromising the weekend’s of the race drivers, and that the team were looking closely at the Friday plans for the future.
“I think it’s a pity that the Friday sessions aren’t held as pure test sessions where you could use, for instance, three cars,” Theissen explained. “To date, we have been the only big team to offer a test driver the chance of contesting the Friday sessions. Prior to the Spanish Grand Prix, we will meet to discuss our future approach.”
Polish driver Robert Kubica got his F1 break when he impressed the team during Friday practice sessions. His speed convinced BMW-Sauber to give him a chance during a race, and he eventually won a full-time race seat when Jacques Villeneuve left the team mid-season.
Meanwhile, the BMW team have been hard at work on Nick Heidfeld’s car. Heidfeld will have his wings clipped as he tackles the Nirburgring’s famous Nordschleife layout in his BMW this weekend.
Heidfeld is driving in a special BMW event on a layout known as the ‘Green Hell’. The 21km layout almost claimed Niki Lauda’s life in 1976. The team have clipped the wings on Heidfeld’s car as well as only allowing him to go out on ‘demonstration’ Bridgestone tyres – both changes will make the car slower than normal.
Heidfeld is unimpressed and has been quoted as saying he is ‘disappointed’ with the news. It has also emerged that the German will not be taking on the Nordschleife’s famous, banked ‘Karussell’ section.
Team boss, Mario Theissen, has said that even though the car will have a very high ride-height and will therefore be further compromised, he still believes Heidfeld may reach speeds of over 300 kph.