Bmw Sauber and the Number Four

By: Anthony Fontanelle

The fourth race of the 2007 Formula One season is marked the fourth time around that a BMW Sauber Driver placed fourth this year. The Spanish Grand Prix was held at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain. The race saw eight cars retired due to varied car problems. For BMW, only one car finished the race, the car driven by the Pole Robert Kubica.

For this season, the fourth place finish is Kubica's best achievement. During the first race of the season at the Australian Grand Prix, Kubica did not finish the race due to problems with his car. On the second race of the season, the Malaysian Grand Prix, the Pole struggled gaining only an 18th place finish. The next race though, at the Bahrain Grand Prix, saw Kubica show his driving prowess when he finished at the sixth spot.

After the race, Kubica has this to say about his performance: "I am very satisfied because this is my first race this season without any problems, and you can see the result. Today everything came together for me. I could fight for top places, and that is what I did today." Although he might have a better showing at the Spanish Grand Prix, Kubica admitted that he also encountered some problems with his car. "I had quite a good, consistent race, although I had some problems with tire degradation in the second stint when I was behind Alonso and Coulthard was closing the gap, but everything was under control," he said. "In the end, after the second pit stop, I tried to push and make the gap to Coulthard bigger. Now we have to continue working in this direction," the driver concluded.

Meanwhile, teammate Nick Heidfeld did not finish the race due to problems with his car's gearbox although other components such as the BMW brake hose and other components are working well and did not show much wear and tear. This is the first time this season that the German driver did not finish a race. He scored fourth place finishes at the Australian, Malaysian, and Bahrain Grand Prix. After the race, Heidfeld explained his car's trouble: "In the end it was most likely a gearbox problem that stopped me, but unfortunately my race was over much earlier after the problem during my first pit stop. For some reason the front right wheel was loose, we have to look at it how this happened. For the first 24 laps until this stop it looked superb for me. I drove a long first stint and my second stint would also have been a long one. On top of this Alonso was not very quick on the harder tires in his second stint. I believe I had the chance to finish on the podium today."

While the number four keeps repeating itself for the team, they are fortunate that they have not dropped to the fourth place in the constructor's championship. The team is currently third on the standings with 24 points. The current leader is team Vodafone McLaren Mercedes with 58 points and followed by team Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro with 49 points. Mario Theissen, BMW's Motorsport Director, has this to say: "We view the result with mixed emotions. Eight cars retiring was a lot today, and sadly we were among them - most likely it was a gearbox failure. But as disappointing as this is for us and for Nick, it was a positive result for Robert. He scored our fourth fourth place today, drove a very good race and our team is now established as the third strongest. At the end of the day the result is pleasing."

The team has to improve their performance since both Renault and Toyota are aiming for the third spot that they currently occupy. With the win fourth place finish, they have increased their lead on both Toyota and Renault. Willy Rampf, BMW's Technical ,Director is evidently pleased with the team's fourth place finish which gives them the needed points. Rampf has this to say after the race: "After a race like this I have mixed feelings. Robert drove a strong race and deserved fourth place. Nick was also in a good position before his pit stop. We then had a problem fitting the front right wheel nut, had to bring Nick in one lap later and, as a result, his race was ruined. After 46 laps a technical failure forced him to retire. However, on the positive side we are pleased with five more championship points."

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