We expect some big changes in the look of the Formula 1 cars in 2009 but as the season progresses the cars change even without new rules. Let’s have a look how the 2008 F1 cars looked in Melbourne and compare them with their look in Brazil:
Ferrari – Melbourne
Ferrari - Brazil
Robert Kubica, Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
The speculations about the future of Nick Heidfeld are over. BMW Sauber has confirmed their 2009 drivers line up. The announced today they will retain both Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld in the 2009 season. Christian Klien will also stay on as a test driver.
“We see Nick and Robert as a strong driver pairing and Christian as an experienced test driver. We are in no doubt that we will again achieve our ambitious aims with them in the team’s fourth year.” – Mario Theissen.
Nick Heidfeld has been under fire this season but the fact is that he lies 5th in the championship standings ahead of one McLaren drivers and at the same time only 8 points behind his highly rated team mate…
It now looks even more likely that Fernando Alonso will stay with Renault in 2009.
See the 2009 F1 Driver Line Up here
Photo: BMW Motorsports
Is that possible ? If the words in F1 paddock and speculations are to be believed it is not only possible but dead certain.
Word in Monaco paddock back in May was that Fernando Alonso inked a deal with Ferrari that would see the double world champion racing in the red car from 2010. Whom would he replace was not said that time. Just for the record, Felipe Massa will still be under contract with Ferrari in 2010, Kimi Raikkonen will not, unless he signs some extension.
The speculations that emerged shortly after the Belgian GP claim that Fernando Alonso just signed three years deal with BMW Sauber and would partner his buddy Robert Kubica from 2009. (There were almost immediately also speculations sending Nick Heidfeld to Renault but that is another story). Official announcement is to come after Monza race.
So, it is BMW Sauber in 2009 and then both BMW Sauber and Ferrari from 2010 for Fernando Alonso. Who would have predicted that .
Nick Heidfeld has a new helmet design for the German GP this weekend. He used both – his usual one and the new one on Friday. Here are several pictures of Nick Heidfeld and his Hockenheim helmets.
Photos: © BMW AG
It has been a bit quiet on the rumour front since the third edition but but still not a total radio silence. And surprise surprise, Sato has been talked about again.
This time not in connection with the “future Honda North America Team” but an existing one – Force India. The rumour has it, as Swiss publication Motorsport Aktuell reports, Force India F1 may be thinking about changing their engine supplier. Some meetings are reported to have taken place in Montreal between Force India and Honda. While Force India have a contract with Ferrari at the moment, the sweetener that allegedly makes Honda deal more attractive is inclusion of Honda’s KERS system in the package. After collapse of Super Aguri Honda currently do not not supply customer engines to another F1 team. The Honda engine / KERS package would come at a discount (the rumoured sum is EUR10 mil a year less than what Force India pays to Ferrari) under condition that Force India would also take care of Honda’s headache and give a race seat to ex-Jordan/Honda, ex-BAR/Honda and ex-Super Aguri/Honda driver Takuma Sato. Sounds to me like pay driver deal on offer … I do not know why but this does not feel like a deal Mallya would do …
The other rumour connects Bruno Senna (currently 2nd in GP2) with BMW Sauber.
All we need is 2 weeks break between races and the rumour floodgates open. Let’s have a look what’s new since the second edition.
Robert Kubica has been doing well and so it comes as no surprise his future has been talked about quite a bit. Few innocent remarks to Italian paper La Stampa created two contradictory rumours. First linking Rosberg with BMW Sauber (as Kubica’s team mate) and then linking Kubica with a move to Ferrari. Sounds interesting but whom would Kubica replace ? Massa is under contract till 2010 and doing well right now (after shaky start to the season). There has been lots of talking about Raikkonen’s retirement but if I am not wrong that is part of the post 2009 future. All I can say about Kubica and Ferrari is that Kubica’s helmet matches the Ferrari colour scheme quite well as the picture above shows .
Fernando Alonso has dismissed the rumours about him signing for Ferrari, so now it is time to link him to BMW Sauber, now also a race winning car. It may help that Robert Kubica does not seem to mind having Alonso as a team mate. The question for me however is if Alonso would be OK with Kubica in the other car. At the moment all that is sure about Alonso’s future is that he has not made any decision on it, at least that is what he says.
About 2 weeks ago I asked a question if Robert Kubica has become a serious title contender. It looks like the Montreal race gave us the answer. Kubica’s maiden F1 win has not only broken the 24 race McLaren/Ferrari Formula 1 race wins monopoly but also propelled him to the top of the championship standings after 7 races. Whoever can achieve that amongst the competition from Ferrari and McLaren drivers simply has to be taken seriously …
Current position: 1st
Points: 42 (4 ahead of 2nd and 3rd)
Results so far this season: DNF – 2 – 3 – 4 – 4 – 2 – 1
Although his season has began with DNF Kubica made his intentions quite clear right at the start. After a strong qualifying run in Melbourne he barely missed out on pole position at the Australian GP. The maiden pole position came in Bahrain, the maiden win in Canada. Seven races, six top four finishes, 4 podiums, one win, one pole position. This all in a car that at least for now still is only the 3rd best on the grid … The comparison with Alonso and Renault in their 2005 and 2006 title winning seasons comes to mind …
BMW Sauber took full advantage of problems and some silly mistakes of their main rivals and scored impressive 1-2 finish in Canadian GP. Robert Kubica drove almost a perfect race and a year after horrifying crash in Montreal he scored the maiden Formula 1 win for himself and for the BMW Sauber team. Nick Heidfeld finished in strong second place ahead of David Coulthard. It was a also good day for Toyota with Glock in 4th and Trulli in 6th. Felipe Massa in my opinion drove the race of his life. Despite not much going right for him he salvaged 4 points from Canadian GP. Rubens Barrichello will be very happy with another point scoring race. Sebastian Vettel has proven that starting from pitlane does not rule out points finish.
Race to forget for McLaren … I have no idea what Hamilton was doing in the pitlane but it is going to haunt him for one more race with the 10 place grid penalty he and Rosberg were given for that mess …
Robert Kubica now leads the drivers championship four points ahead of Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton.
2008 Canadian F1 GP race result:
1. R. Kubica – BMW Sauber – 1:36:24.447
2. N. Heidfeld – BMW Sauber + 16.495
3. D. Coulthard – Red Bull + 23.352
4. T. Glock – Toyota + 42.627
5. F. Massa – Ferrari + 43.934
6. J. Trulli – Toyota + 47.775
7. R. Barrichello – Honda + 53.597
8. S. Vettel – Toro Rosso + 54.120
He does not have the best car on the grid. He is still waiting for his maiden Formula 1 win. But with third of the season gone, he sits in 4th place of the drivers championship only 6 points behind the leader Lewis Hamilton.
1. Lewis Hamilton – 38
2. Kimi Raikkonen – 35
3. Felipe Massa – 34
4. Robert Kubica – 32
When asked by ITV whether he feels to be in the title fight, Kubica replied:
“I’m trying to do my best. We also have to see that if in Australia I had finished, we would have at least six points more and the worst race result would be fourth place, so I don’t think that’s bad.”
Of course had Massa finished in Malaysia he would likely have 8 points more (42), had Kimi not lost it in Monaco he would probably have 4 more points (39) etc… So better not go into all the “ifs”. But fact is Kubica is too close to the top for Ferrari’s and McLaren’s comfort …
He went on to elaborate further:
“We are there with such a lot of points because we are the most consistent team and driver in the championship.”
He sure has a point here. But is consistnecy without winning a race enough to win the title ? Never in F1 history there was a champion without winning at least one race. Mike Hawthorn (1958) and Keke Rosberg (1982) however needed only 1 race win to claim the title.
So does Kubica have a chance ? Is it perhaps time for BMW Sauber to take the gamble, relegate Nick Heidfeld to no. 2 status and throw all their support behind Kubica this early in the season to take an advantage of continuing team mate battles in Ferrari and McLaren ?
Photo: BMW AG
First win (and first points) of the season for Felipe Massa, first 1-2 finish for Ferarri (and for anybody) this season, second consecutive podium for Robert Kubica. Race to forget for McLaren …
2008 Bahrain Formula 1 GP Result:
1. F. Massa – Ferrari – 1:31:06.970
2. K. Räikkönen – Ferrari + 3.339
3. R. Kubica – BMW Sauber + 4.998
4. N. Heidfeld – BMW Sauber + 8.409
5. H. Kovalainen – McLaren + 26.789
6. J. Trulli – Toyota + 41.314
7. M. Webber – Red Bull + 45.473
8. N. Rosberg – Williams + 55.889
The 2008 Formula 1 drivers preview continues with BMW Sauber team.
Nick Heidfeld - Germany
Born: 10 May 1977
In F1 since 2000, 2000 Prost, 2001 – 2003 Sauber, 2004 Jordan, 2005 Williams, 2006 – 2007 BMW Sauber
Best Result: 5th 2007
Career wins: 0
Pole positions: 1
Nick Heidfeld is the guy who lost the quest for McLaren seat to Kimi Raikkonen back in 2002. After that he spent few years in midfield and lower midfield with Sauber and Jordan. When he finally got his break and moved to a top team, Williams in 2005, Williams was no longer a top team … After BMW left Williams for Sauber, they took quick Nick with them. He might not have expected that at that time, but it looks like he finally found himself in a competitive car. Perhaps against the general expectations he outclassed his team mate Robert Kubica in 2007. Chinese GP was the only race in 2007 he finished outside top 6 (not counting those 3 he did not finish). He is one of the drivers who are happy the traction control is now thing of the past. But the life may be tougher for him this year. BMW may not be the isolated ones between the top 2 and the rest. The competition for 5th and 6th in each race will probably include more drivers than just Robert Kubica. If BMW closes the gap on top 2, with a bit of luck this season may bring a maiden win for Nick Heidfeld. But he may as well find himself outside of points more often than last year.
Robert Kubica - Poland
Born: 7 December 1984
In F1 since 2006 BMW Sauber
Best Result: 6th 2007
Career wins: 0
Pole positions: 0
Podium Finishes: 1 (Monza 2006)
Robert Kubica jumped into the BMW Sauber race seat with 6 races to go in the 2006 F1 season. Jacques Villeneuve was sacked after 2006 German GP and so only after few months of test driver duties with the Swiss/German team Kubica found himself on the F1 grid in Hungary. He almost scored 2 points on his debut. But his inexperience and failure to “collect” enough rubber on the way back to pit lane resulted in his car being 2 kg underweight. Kubica was disqualified and Michael Schumacher promoted to 8th. His “bad luck” continued in Monza. He scored an amazing 3rd place finish. However nobody paid much attention to him as after the race all the attention turned to Michael Schumacher and his retirement… Many expected Kubica to be the better one of the BMW Sauber drivers in 2007. It somehow did not happen. Nick Heidfeld raised his game while Kubica struggled with the Bridgestone tyres early on in the season. Two highlights of his 2007 season were the massive terrifying crash in Canada and then the great fight with Felipe Massa in Japan. Towards the end of the season however there was not much between Kubica and Heidfeld. Winter tests suggest that may also be the situation at the start of the 2008 season.
F1Wolf’s prediction for BMW Sauber drivers in 2008:
It will be very tight between Heidfeld and Kubica but for no particular reason I think Heidfeld will finish the season with few points more than Kubica.
2008 F1 Season – Team Mates – Ferrari
2008 F1 Season – Team Mates – McLaren
The new season is just around the corner and so after earlier post predicting form of all the teams in 2008 Formula 1 season, it is time to look at the drivers. Let’s start with Ferrari.
Kimi Raikkonen – Finland
Born: 17 October 1979
In F1 since 2001 (2001 Sauber, 2002 – 2006 McLaren, from 2007 Ferrari)
Best Result: 2007 Formula 1 Champion
Career wins: 15
Pole positions: 14
This is the first time Raikkonen goes into a new F1 season as a defending champion. And it looks like the title is there for him to take. He has the top car. He has comfortably settled in the team. He seems to have no problems at all driving the car without the electronic driver aids. Unless he is unlucky and gets more than a fair share of mechanical troubles or accidents, I expect him to claim the number one spot in Ferrari much earlier in the season than in 2007. Kimi is probably the hottest candidate for the F1 crown in 2008 but it sure will not be as easy as many tend to think. Massa will not let go that easy and then there is the McLaren duo…
Felipe Massa – Brazil
Born: 25 April 1981
In F1 since 2002 (2002 Sauber, 2003 Ferrari test driver, 2004-2005 Sauber, from 2006 Ferrari)
Best Result: 3rd in 2005
Career wins: 5
Pole positions: 9
With Jean Todt’s move away from the spotlight Massa may find himself in very different environment. He will have to prove again he deserves his place in the Maranello team. He is a very good qualifier and decent race driver. But one has to remember that all his career wins came after starting from pole position – Turkey and Brazil 2006, Bahrain, Spain, Turkey 2007. His best chance to get better of Kimi is to try to outqualify him as often as possible. He has enough speed to do that, but there may be questions about his driving style. He seems to have had more difficult time than Kimi adjusting to car without all the electronic aids. If he is to beat Kimi, first he has to be quick in qualifying while staying on the track … Most people expect Raikkonen to dominate the battle of Ferrari team mates this year. This may take some pressure away from Massa. But the never ending rumours of Alonso being enroute to Ferrari in the near future may do exactly the opposite…
F1Wolf’s prediction for Ferrari drivers in 2008:
No. 1 – Kimi Raikkonen and fighting for the 2008 F1 title
No. 2 – Felipe Massa – his overall position depends on how dominant Ferrari car will be. If McLarens are close, he will have hard time to stay ahead of one of their drivers.
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