Qualifying for Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix didn’t go entirely to plan for BMW Sauber. Arguably one of the major shocks of Qualifying was the elimination of Robert Kubica in the first session, a driver who only two races ago was challenging for victory.
His team mate, Nick Heidfeld, also struggled with the F1.09, but managed to Qualify eleventh. Here both Kubica and Heidfeld explain their Qualifying woes with BMW Motorsport director, Mario Theissen, and Chief Engineer Willy Rampf.
Nick Heidfeld – 11th: “My first and quickest lap in Q2 was the best I could get out of the car, and it was a really good one. I was hoping to get an even better lap time on the second run just because the track conditions always improve during qualifying. But then for some reason with that set of Option tyres the grip wasn’t there. We have to find out why that was.
“I missed the top ten qualifying by just one hundredth of a second, but nevertheless it is obvious we have a lack of pace. We hope an aerodynamic update, which will come for the Spanish Grand Prix, will help us. For now we have to get the most out of the situation and for tomorrow there is a chance for rain which would be great. We will think carefully about our race strategy now. As I’m out of the top ten I’m free to choose my fuel load.”
Robert Kubica – 18th: “The car had no grip and was not at all easy to drive. I struggled with the softer tyre compound. After this morning’s session I didn’t expect this at all, as the gap between softer and harder tyres was bigger then. Additionally I made a mistake braking in turn 12 which cost me my lap time.”
Mario Theissen (BMW Motorsport Director): “Today’s qualifying was very disappointing. Data evaluation from Free Practice indicated our car would not work on this track. Both drivers complained about lack of grip, and we didn’t manage to solve this problem. Because of these circumstances, both drivers had difficulties driving a perfect lap. This also affected our grid positions. We now have to get the best out of our situation with a good race strategy.”
Willy Rampf (Head of Engineering): “We expected something completely different after the results of the first two races. Of course with these disappointing starting positions we cannot be happy. In comparison to other teams, we have lost some ground. Now to get closer to the top we have to reduce the gap with an intensive development programme.”