It was a different story at BMW Sauber than we have been use to this season, a much better story. The upgrade for the F1.09 introduced in Spain along with another updated aero package that included a new double diffuser came together well for a much quicker and better handling car.
Both Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica had good things to say about the car throughout the weekend, something we haven’t been use to either. From the get go In Friday’s practice sessions the car seemed quicker and looked more like a top 10 team than the bottom feeder we’ve been use to. Most of Friday was reserved for finding a basic setup for the car and to get the most of the diffuser and by the end of Saturday practice they were confident they had it.
Qualifying was another test for the team and although pole was out of the question, definite improvement was there. Heidfeld and Kubica sailed through Q1 and into Q2 where competition was much stiffer. Both Kubica and Heidfeld consistently posted almost identical lap times, but when time ran out in Q2 Kubica went through in 10th and Heidfeld missed by 5 hundredths of a second and settled for grid position 11. Q3 showed how much the car had really improved with Kubica grabbing 10th on the grid.
When the lights went out and the grand prix started, both Heidfeld and Kubica got off to great starts, both moving up quickly, but for Heidfeld, things went south as he braked for turn one and discovered a substantial brake balance problem resulting in the car pushing to one side and the left front barely touching the track. By the time lap one was over, Heidfeld had been passed and dropped to 13th where he kept the car throughout the race finally finishing 11th.
For Kubica the race was much better his car problem free. A great start and he was into 8th place after lap one. During the race he had a serious challenge from Alonso and was able to hold him off ( something that would have been impossible to do a few races ago), and then on his last stint of the race had a serious challenge for 7th from Timo Glock.
Clearly the team is on the upswing and the car quicker. They have cut a wide gap between them and the top 10 teams almost completely giving them a chance to fight for points as was the case in Turkey. More improvements are on the way and a lot of data was collected this past weekend on the performance of the new aero. In the coming weeks the team will tweak the car and with any luck gain another 10th or 2 for Silverstone in 2 weeks.
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