So just how fast are BMW?

Robert Kubica, BMW, Melbourne, 2008, qualifying, 450150

The biggest surprise of qualifying for me was how quick the BMWs are. Robert Kubica was just 0.155s off Lewis Hamilton’s pole position time and Nick Heidfeld back him up in fifth with a 1’27.236.

During the discussion of qualifying here last night one or two people raised the possibility that the two drivers are on different strategies, and Robert Kubica ran with a light fuel load in a bid to take pole position. He seemed to confirm that, while acknowledging he would have been first but for a mistake:

Yeah. for sure I made a mistake in corner 12 over the grass, I lost more than a couple of tenths there. That is the risk we took, we knew we could get a good result in qualifying, I took quite a bit of risk, but in the end it didn’t pay off as I lost more than to stay ahead of Lewis.

So do BMW have the pace to challenge for the win? It didn’t look that way in practice on Friday but Kubica and Heidfeld topped the time sheets on Saturday morning.

But they might have been further down the grid had the Ferraris not run into trouble. And BMW did particularly well here last year as well – third and fifth was turned out to be their best qualifying performance of 2007.

Mario Theissen has said his aim for 2008 is for the team to take their first win. Could they achieve that in the first race – and even challenge for the championship?

More on Australian Grand Prix qualifying

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16 comments on So just how fast are BMW?

  1. Hard to say, but I’m beginning to see that they are fast this year.  The practice times didn’t do much for me, fast or slow.

    For me, if Kimi was in, Kubica was 3rd on the grid which is still just as good

    It’s going to take this race to see if it is true that BMW-Sauber are a serious threat for wins.

  2. Fer no.65 said on 15th March 2008, 12:51

    it has been an strange qualyfing session appart from the fact Kimi was not there, neither Alonso. Also Webber could have been fighting for the top rows, but as usual for him, a mechanical problem stopped him….

    So, looking at the times… everything is so relative…
    -Who thought Honda would be narrowly out from top 10?
    -Who thought Toyota would be that strong?
    -Who thought Ferrari would fail badly at qualy???
    -Who thought the BMWs were faster than both Williams??
    -Who thought Piquet would do worse than Heikki last year!?
    – Who tought every lap would be that untidy? every driver seems to be fighting hard with the cars… that was a surprise for me, as all drivers said the Traction Control loss wasn’t a problem… but it is! the laps are strange sometimes, they had to fight really hard to get those cars on the corner properly!… so many mistakes… many white-smoke moments, or sometimes loosing the rear too…!

    we’ll have to be patient… as the race willl tell us everything… and it will be so interesting!

  3. M Smith said on 15th March 2008, 12:55

    Regardless of the different strategies, BMW performed very well in qualifying. I certainly do not think that it was a glory pole position like what Toyota did awhile ago, they have good pace.

    How fast is BMW? I guess we will only find out tomorrow, but thanks to Ferrari’s misfortune, the podium is a big possibility. A victory? Maybe. That would make a great start to the season.

  4. Mario Peeters said on 15th March 2008, 14:15

    I a wondering what the combination BMW – Vettel could bring us. I am not sure but I thought that BMW still has Vettel under contract and is only lending it to STR.  Given his pace at STR and the pace of the BMw I think they would make Hamiltons strole to the title difficult. I am looking forward to a battle Mercedes vs BMW, Hamilton vs Vettel. I think that those will be the heroic battles of the future. Shame for Kimi he had problems with his car. Ferrari and renault seem to be the losers of the 2008 season so far.

  5. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 15th March 2008, 14:21

    Afraid not – Red Bull always had Vettel’s contract and he was due to return to them for 2009 regardless. He must be a good tip to join the Red Bull ‘A Team’ next year.

  6. oliver said on 15th March 2008, 15:39

    We only assume Kimi would have the pace to be on pole.

  7. Ladies and gentlemen, we have what we have been asking for at last: three teams in with a chance of the championship.  Watch those Beemers go!

  8. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 15th March 2008, 16:19

    Hope you’re right Clive – as far as I’m concerned the more the merrier at the sharp end.

  9. C-type said on 15th March 2008, 16:24

    I was sorry for Kubica missing out on his first pole which would have been something very special for him (those ‘Pole on Pole’ headlines will have to wait a bit longer). Enjoyed his attacking of the circuit and look forward to seeing how he does later.  I doubt he’ll be on the podium, sorry Robert, but he’ll be hugely influential on the outcome, and for me, I hope to the advantage of Ferrari though I do wish him well.
    But that is not why I don’t see him on the podium, he looks light to me and I think Mario may well be overly-aggressive in their fuel strategy (again).

  10. I would bet on Kubica for the win if it was going to rain tomorrow, but from what I’ve heard it looks like it won’t…ah well. Could Massa come into play tomorrow, as he may be heavy on fuel (hence the poor quali position)?

  11. Wesley said on 15th March 2008, 17:51

    Just watch those BMWs fly….whooo..hoo..!!! Looks like Kubica is going to force Heidfeld to take his game up another notch this year.

    If there were mistakes for lack of T.C. in quali, just wait and see what happens when they are on top of one another racing for territory.

  12. oliver said on 15th March 2008, 18:14

    BMW from the looks of things may have one car in the top 4 or possibly top 3 all season long.

  13. Nervous, twitchy cornering, smoking tires, mistakes by drivers……this is the way racing was meant to be! Great cars without artificial support (TC, etc) will show us who the really good pilots are.

    As the season unfolds I think we’ll see fewer bobbles and even better competition. Now if we can only overcome the darned aero passing problem

  14. Gman said on 15th March 2008, 20:25

    It was a very good showing for the BMW club yesterday, but as Keith pointed out, they had their best quali showing there last season. It will be interesting not only to see if they can make the podium or win tonight, but also if they can turn in top perfomances on the other tracks.

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