Robert Kubica, shouldn’t he be happy about his 2008 season ?

Robert Kubica, not the happiest driver after 2008 season

Robert Kubica, not the happiest driver after 2008 season

The BMW Sauber team bosses are generally happy with the 2008 season. They are also happy with the overall progress of the team since the purchase of Sauber by BMW after 2005 season. Mario Theissen:

“BMW kept its schedule that was set in 2005 after acquiring Sauber: to be in the points in 2006, to be on the podium in 2007, to be on the top podium 2008. We made the two-way title campaign a three-way battle in the first half of the season. We did not have the fastest car in 2008, but the overall package counts. Reliability was an issue in 2007 and our focus on this in 2008 paid off as we had no single retirement because of a technical failure.”

It is all good and according to the long term plan. But it does not really reveal the full story. Although they never had the fastest car early on in the season BMW Saubers were often quicker than one of the top two teams. But by the Canadian GP BMW Sauber already felt behind Ferrari and McLaren. They may have won their first race and even in 1-2 fashion but it is clear to everybody that they have only Hamilton to thank for that win. Should Hamilton pay attention to the traffic lights or should he choose Kubica instead of Raikkonen as his target at that Montreal pit lane exit, there would be no win.

Kubica takes the lead after Hamilotn crashed into Raikkonen

Hamilton crashes into Raikkonen, Kubica takes Canadian GP lead

Despite this they still managed to keep the team and both drivers in contention for the titles for quite a while. With 2 races to go Kubica still had mathematical chance. And this is what clearly hurts the Polish star. The opportunity was there but the team did not do enough to make the most out of it.

“In the last two or three months, I had the feeling that the team and I were no longer pursuing the same goal.”

Earlier Kubica said that he felt like he was the only one who believed he could actually win the title. He also expressed his unhappiness about the team focusing on Heidfeld’s qualifying issues while he himself was there with a shot at the title.

But still, with at best the 3rd best car on the grid he won his first F1 race, he finished on podium 7 times, he scored points in 14 out 16 races he finished and only the end of season slump cost him the 3rd place in drivers championship (finished 4th equal on points with Kimi Raikkonen). Still, he does not sound too happy.

Canadian GP Podium

Canadian GP podium - Maiden F1 win for Kubica

It is hard to say if these are Kubica’s real feelings or only some quotes taken out of context by media. But if I were in his position, I would also consider the 2008 season as an opportunity lost.

BMW Sauber may well build better and stronger car for 2009 season. But as I said on Stew’s BMW F1 blog in Formula 1 it is not only about how good car you build. It also also about where your competition stands.

This year both front running teams – Ferrari and McLaren – did exceptionally good job in trying to throw away the titles. This is a scenario that does not happen every year. BMW may build a car that equals the Ferrari or McLaren in the future. But that does not mean they will win the titles. Look at McLaren. In recent years, perhaps with the exception of 2004, they always had a top car. But Hamilton’s 2008 title is their first since Mika Hakkinen in 1999 ! They came very very close with Kimi Raikkonen in 2003 when only 2 points separated him from Michael Schumacher. But it took 5 more season before the title made it back to Woking and only just …

The 2009 season is a big unknown. The brand new technical regulations result in fresh start for everybody. It may mean nothing and we may see the same team rule the field. But we may also see more teams entering the title game. Ferrari and McLaren (if they manage to stay in the front of the grid) may well be joined not only be BMW Sauber but also by Renault (sounding very confident), Honda (said to be quite far in their 2009 car development), Toyota and Vettel powered Red Bull. The top may get very crowded. Or not … Someone may get much better grasp on the new rules and charge ahead of the field … And there is no guarantee that someone will be BMW Sauber.

It is nice to have long term vision, long term plan and go ahead in line with that. But that all went according to BMW Sauber’s plans between 2006 – 2008 does not mean that it will continue that way. They are not the only team dreaming about winning titles. The future may still prove BMW Sauber long term strategy right. But if opportunity presents itself earlier than expected, one should go and take it. It may never come back and Robert Kubica is probably well aware of that …

Photo: BMW Motorsports, F1Wolf

14 Comments Post a Comment
  1. RobinNo Gravatar says:

    Robert needs to focus on the big picture. Sure BMW fell off in the last two races of the season but the are looking very promising for the next season to really strongly compete for the title. Saying that though who knows what politics are going on behind the scenes!

  2. KotenokNo Gravatar says:

    He’s not a child crying for have some attention or get a better treat, he’s just making notice himself that he feels ready to push the car and the team to win races and probably have a chance to win the championship, he wants the team to be confident with him that he has got what it takes. Maybe he felt not enough regarded by his colleagues. If I was Kubic,a I meant so this message, because the goals from this season in BMW-Sauber team were high, but they succeeded and when were approached their goals something happened in there… Same thing happened in Renault also, but when they goals were approached they didn’t stop on going further on the improvement of the car, although 2009’s car should be another design.

    Kotenoks last blog post..RubberGoat

  3. KotenokNo Gravatar says:

    Seems this photo was taken when Robert already took one of those Cinzano bottles :P It could be taken in a better moment, but shows that anybody can appear disgusting in a photo if has been done by wrong hands.

    Kotenoks last blog post..RubberGoat

    • F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

      that is official BMW Motorsport press photo :-)

      • KotenokNo Gravatar says:

        I did imagine that, but all the money they spend in such things for self-promotion (much more than we can imagine), and then they publish such a photo??? Nothing to argue with you, I was just surprisied that the photograhper didn’t think to take a photo while he was saying ‘Cheese!!’.

        Kotenoks last blog post..RubberGoat

        • F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

          there were few more guys including Andy Priaulx on that picture sitting to Kubica’s left. but I took out only Kubica as I needed him for this post with an expression like that :-)

          the photo is from the BMW Motorsports Gala they had in Munich last weekend

  4. BMWF1guyNo Gravatar says:

    First I think Robert is doing too much talking and the media is asking too many questions. This issue should have been over long ago. If Robert feels he must continue to talk about this, he’s acting a little selfish and immature.

    I have to disagree with Kubica on this one. BMW Sauber sets it’s goals and sticks to them. They talk about their goals to the media all the time and perhaps that is why they are having the success they are having so early in their life.

    I was truly disappointed over the performance of BMW in the last few races and even in the last half of the season, but if it means taking baby steps and reaching higher goals and bettering themselves year after year I say go for it.

    BMWF1guys last blog post..A lot of Competition for BMW Sauber in 2009

    • F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

      Well media will always want to hear from the top drivers, so they ask. And Kubica is a top driver who smelled the opportunity and makes it clear that he is not 100% happy he was denied the chance.

      On BMW defence – who would have guessed that Hamilton, Massa, Raikkonen would go on dropping so many points in the second half of the season …

    • KotenokNo Gravatar says:

      Anyway, the risk could be taken and they could find the easy way earlier to win the first Championship. It’s quite a competitive car, great drivers in their squad and so on, drivers are there for doing what the contract ask them to do, but they’re people and have the right to disagree how it’s going beneath…
      If he talked too much??? Did he? Nick Heidfield was the frist to blame BMW-Sauber’s ’08 car that was not done to his likings, sure he wasn’t lucky this season and very unusual to hear him as he’s a quite man. And Robert Kubica just told repeated times that the team got potential to fight for the championship but that the team doesn’t go for it now, I see that’s not what he wish in his career, what’s wrong in there? When he does the same that Niki Lauda in Ferrari, we could say then he reached the upper level of disappointment :P

      Yeah, BMW did a good job last seasons. Since left the team work with Williams F1 they only won profit of having worked with a top team and now doing their own successful. Dr. Theissen is not the only one responsible of that, but his the first one in whom we think, so the message should be for him. Then should be Mario Theissen who decides about what to do in this situation.

      Kotenoks last blog post..RubberGoat

  5. PaulNo Gravatar says:

    I think BMW spent too much development time trying to get Heidfeld on-par whilst forgetting Kubica, that and pretty much stopping development on the 08 car mid season.

    I do think that they could have improved their final placing if they had focused more on the 2008 season, but I do have high hopes for Kubica next season, he has proved to be a real reliable content and looks more consistant than Massa was a few years ago.

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