Are BMW championship contenders?

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Nick Heidfeld, Heikki Kovalainen, Bahrain, 2008, 470150

When Robert Kubica put his BMW second on the grid at Melbourne I asked just how fast are BMW – and quite a few of you were cautious not to predict big things for them on the strength of one qualifying performance.

Now three races in they’ve had their first pole position and are leading the constructors’ championship – although they haven’t won a race yet. F1’s other two big teams – McLaren and Ferrari – disagree over how much of a threat BWM are.

Ferrari’s Stefano Domenicali reckons:

[Robert] Kubica did a very nice, positive race. On the podium he told me he struggled a bit when dealing with the oil in the first corners. But the pace he and BMW have deserves respect. He is a driver who I believe will be in the title fight until the end.

Lewis Hamilton, who’s had his share of run-ins with Kubica, would probably agree with that assessment. But his McLaren boss Ron Dennis is cool on BMW’s prospects:

I think that we respect all competitors and [BMW are] doing a better job than they’ve done at any other time in their involvement in F1.

But it is when we get to Europe that the R&D and speed of manufacture starts to make a difference. We’ll be very strong and I’m not at all unduly worried about the future. It will be a fight right through the season.

That may be the case but BMW clearly beat McLaren in the last two races. At the very least I think they can be a ‘real’ second in the constructors’ championship this year. But I’m not sure they’re quick enough yet to beat Ferrari.

Do you think BMW can win races and challenge for the championship this year?

56 comments on “Are BMW championship contenders?”

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  1. #27, yes you’re right, I did mean 1997.

    I’m surprised there are still people who believe Alonso’s ludicrous claim from last year.  For the record: this time last year McLaren were leading the constructors championship.  Now they are 2 points shy of the lead.  Renault, presumably benefiting from the Alonso magic, have gone from 4th this time last year to…… 6th! 

    Fernanndo Alonso, working the magic.

  2. BMW don´t need to complain about drivers. In my opinion, Kubica and Heidfeld are so good as Alonso or the gap between them is not so significant.

  3. Well, who says that Fernando didn’t brought 6 tenths or more to Renault this year? They have a dog of a car this year, so maybe if it wasn’t for him, Renault would be fighting with Fisichella’s Force India…

  4. Scott Joslin
    8th April 2008, 16:37

    I think if we classify BMW as being potential 2nd place finishers in the champion ship, then yes they can be called contenders. But I doubt they have the last bit of speed needed to win races in the pit stop strategies. BMW will be very close to Mclaren this year, but not a continual threat to Ferrari unless something dramatic happens to the red team. One thing BMW have is consistency something the Ferrari and Mclaren are yet to display and that includes the drivers.

  5. Daniel makes a good point about Fernando bringing some good input to whatever team he is on, and indeed Renault could be at the bottom of the pack if not for some of his work. However, he can’t overhaul the entire thing by himself- last year, in a good car, his input may have been just enough to get McLaren into top form.

    Alonso to BMW? A very interesting deal to be sure, but would BMW  be willing to ditch one of their drivers who apparently work well together to bring in one who is very talented, but could obviously cause a disturbance. Kubica is a rising star in my opinion, and Heidfeld is just whate every team would want- a reliable driver who can bring home points 90% of the time.

  6. Maybe BMW will gather up a win this year, but hoping for Ferrari to stumble is a pipe dream. Mclaren may very well trip themselves up (witness Lewis last weekend) but I can’t see either title for BMW this year. NEXT year is a different story, witness their rapid evolution to date.

    This years car seems to have instability and it may be difficult to extract performance on the remaining tracks. Regardless it will be an entertaining year for us all.

  7. As much as I like Alonso AND BMW, I’d hate to see that pairing. Kubica and Heidfeld are a great pair, and with luck, they coud become a modern version of Mansell-Patresi or Senna-Berger (I’d put my chips on an aged Heidfeld giving an excellent help to a brilliant young Kubica). Also, as I said previously, I know Alonso is not a wizard and Renault is sucking so far, but I bet he can make a bad car turn into a good car, so I’ll always hope that he is an arrogant ******* that no top team will want to have. That way, he will always have to be on secondary teams, maybe improving them to a world title or two, with the team working all around him like he likes. Otherwise, he’ll retire 10 years from now with 2 world titles and a lot of bad memories and enemies.

  8. Definitely challenge for wins and maybe even push hard towards the title but in the end, it’ll be Ferrari or McLaren (probably the former).

    They’ve made a fantastic step forward in the previous couple of years though so next year will be a different story – assuming they can get the new development done properly then they’ll definitely be championship challengers on merit.

  9. Hell Yeah, they are..

  10. Something interesting is: why Alonso always deserves “the best car” more than the other guys?   For example Nick Heidfeld. He is a great and talented driver and tracked the hard way since Sauber until here, to the top BMW team.   Why he should leave his sit to Alonso? C’mon, leave the BMW boys alone, they really deserves a fast car as Alonso deserved last year and threw it away…

  11. As a cold hearted approach to winning, the team principal always needs to sign the best available driver out there. I think Ron espoused this just recently. So, when Nick’s contract comes up and Alonso is available Dr. Mario would be foolish not to give it a serious look, unless he writes off his quirky personality as unmanageable.

    I like Fernando, I’d love to see him race for another title with a top team, I just don’t know if he’s trustworthy after his McLaren escapade in attempting to extort Ron with his emails.

  12. Contenders for championship?? NO But they already made the FL and pole this season for the first time so why not their first victory (in an odd day). They may not win the championship but they could decide the winner. Re pilots, they are a good  pair  but somehow lack the  extra mile. KUB has improve a lot tough.

  13. I think that bmw have been brilliant and getting where they are at this moment – but with the teams coming back after the asian /mid east tour – they have some time to put any lessons learned to extract more speed /reliability before the next round – I would then think that the mclarens would get back to being more competitive against the ferrari’s and as for ferrari missing schummie – wasnt he the fastest driver during winter testing – if so he is still inputting info for them??

  14. BMW certainly would be the team to look upon thus season..this team has the potebtial to give compettition to likes of McLaren And Ferrari!!
    also force India is making a good progress.

  15. maybe but maybe not. to early in season for all this.

  16. the limit
    9th May 2008, 0:18

    I believe it is too early for BMW to be classed as title contenders just yet, but I also believe that they are yet to reach their full potential. I would compare them to the Renault team of 2003 at the moment, or 2004. They are snapping at the heels of McLaren, but are just lacking that extra something to get in amongst the fight.
    My comparison to Renault has a second point, and in that I am comparing Robert Kubica a little to Alonso back in 2003. Five years ago, it was obvious that Alonso and Renault were the up and coming driver/team combination. I believe that BMW Sauber/Robert Kubica, maywell be the driver/team combination of the future.
    My money is on Raikkonen this year, Robert Kubica possibly in 2010 or 2011 to be champion. Unless Fernando dons BMW Sauber white overalls!!!!

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