Nick Heidfeld charged to second place in Sunday’s chaotic Malaysian Grand Prix thanks to a bold tyre decision by his team.
The German was one of the few drivers to stay out on full wet tyres even though it became clear that the intermediate tyres were better suited to the initial showers in Sepang.
When the full deluge came – forcing race directors to stop the grand prix on lap 32 – Heidfeld was able to stay out on track. He was eventually promoted to second place when stewards amended the classification to reflect the order at the time of the red flag.
“I’m obviously very happy to be second after starting from tenth,” said Heidfeld. “It was a really extreme and challenging race today. I had a good start but also quite a heavy car, which meant racing was not easy for me.”
“When it was obvious it would rain soon I pitted seven laps earlier than planned, and we decided to go on full rain tyres. They wore down quickly because the heavy rain didn’t come.”
“The team kept telling me “stay out, heavy rain expected”, but the tyres felt almost like slicks. For those laps intermediates would have been much quicker, but who could know that. When it finally poured down it was the right decision to stop the race.”
“It was absolutely impossible to drive. I spun behind the safety car, not only because of aquaplaning with the tyres but also with the underfloor. I’m happy for our team that we can now bring home at least one proper result from the first two races of the season.â€
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: “The race was as chaotic as we expected based on the weather forecast. For Robert, the race was already over at the start because his engine didn t respond to the throttle. According to an early analysis the reason was a leakage in the pneumatic system. Because of the weather forecast we put Nick on a heave fuel load. This enabled him to stay out until the rain started. He switched to rain tyres at the right moment and was able to finish the race. In extremely difficult conditions he managed to achieve the best possible result. Compliments go to Nick and the whole crew, who worked without any mistakes.â€
Willy Rampf, Head of Engineering: “This was not a race for poor nerves! For Robert, the GP was over at the start. That s a shame, because he was in a strong position. Nick started on a heavy fuel load. The strategy to leave him out for a long time paid off. This was brave, but in the end it worked out. In very difficult conditions he managed to keep the car on the track and to capture a podium finish. Compliments are due to the whole team who worked perfectly in chaotic conditions.â€