Are BMW championship contenders?

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?

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56 comments on Are BMW championship contenders?

  1. Oliver said on 8th April 2008, 11:20

    Alonso Follower: Alonso’s contributions to MacLaren team last year were clearly undervaluated. Let’s hope that Renault fixes his problems on time.

    Is that not a contradiction? Alonso tested the Renault extensively before the season commenced, if he had the talent to make it go faster he would have told Renault what exactly the problems with the car were.

  2. FLIG said on 8th April 2008, 11:29

    By the way – I don’t read ALL threads in the blog because I sometimes don’t have access to the internet for several days, so maybe this is old news, but: Had anyone seen this:  ?

    No more mechanics being run over by japanese drivers, it seems…

  3. Harkirat said on 8th April 2008, 11:30

    Hi Keith,

    Just wanted to throw in my two bits… and probably give you another point to ponder over… I think Jackie Stewart said that the driver of the race for him was Fisichella… that got me thinking… the actual winner of the race… who is the one person who would have felt really proud of this race? Not Domencialli… but Peter Sauber… think of it all the top four drivers have him in common… and as of last Sunday… all four of them could be the world champ this year… what do you think?

  4. A. Nother said on 8th April 2008, 13:35

    It is much as difficult to foresee if the Flying Lobster BMW goes to be winner or not ( the  prettiest car as Enzo Ferrari would say, because it is the first now)

  5. Horacio said on 8th April 2008, 14:07

    I don’t think BMW can win with this drivers… the cars are OK.

  6. Journeyer said on 8th April 2008, 14:17

    Harkirat, I agree. Peter Sauber (along with Eddie Jordan, and to a certain extent, Flavio Briatore and Paul Stoddart) were very good judges to talent.  These guys have a knack of knowing who will  be truly competitive in F1.  Quite a talent to have.  :)

  7. Melanie said on 8th April 2008, 14:43

    BMW might very well be contenders this year, but I think they will be WCC contenders not WDC contenders.

    BMW has shown real pace so far in all the races.  But I think Ferrari will still get the better of both Mclaren and BMW. Ferrari knows how to win, in all the races so far both BMW and Mclaren have had some strange strategies for the races. Like BMW where one driver is on pole and the other in 6th place, and both teams have placed their drivers on strange long stints during the races, with which sometimes seems to be with the wrong tyre choices. BMW’s pace on Sunday wasn’t to far off from Ferrari’s pace, Kubica had a definite chance to finish in second place his pace was there. But still Raikkonen managed to pass him, it just seemed like BMW where outsmarted by Ferrari on Sunday. I get the feeling that BMW are going at this very conservatively, they try to cover all their basis and it seems like they are concentrating more on the WCC at this stage. But as the year progresses they will properly gain more experience.

    Interestingly enough both  Domencialli and Raikkonen feels that BMW will definitely be a thread this year, while Ron Dennis has come out and said that BMW will fall back and not challenge for the championships. So is this a case of being overly cautious or misjudging the enemy?

    Another interesting thing is that so far it has seemed like Maclaren are generating some controversies at almost every race, while BMW and even Ferrari have been keeping relatively quiet and to themselves.

    Time will tell, but so far this is shaping up to be an interesting championship battle. 

  8. verasaki said on 8th April 2008, 14:52

    i think they have- a fair chance.  they’ve been steadily coming up for 2 seasons now so i don’t think resting on dubious laurels is a habit with them. nor is disorganization.  and let’s not forget the great equalizers: chance and error.

    #26 (name is too long to even copy/paste) the point is hamilton did climb the back of alonso.  and kimi has 1 championship under him not 3 because wings fell off, engines blew up and were any of us feeling too comfortable last year, 3 races from the end in predicting kimi would take that one?  actually, was anyone banking on it even after the last race ended?

    i think both kubica and heidfeld have the head and the talent for it.  and bmw may just have a few surprises for mclaren and ferrari.  what could possibly be wrong with a 3 team battle?   and i mean "team; because they all have strong driver pairings capable of taking on their teammates and everyone else’s., too 

  9. Michael K said on 8th April 2008, 15:34

    I think BMW will have a chance, and Ron saying that they won’t is proof to me that they are and that he thinks so too. Normally anyone would say something like "we’ll have to see" and "you can never discount anyone", but coming out and saying that you don’t think they will challenge sounds to me like some sort of mind-games, especially after just being beaten.
    I agree with the line of thought that they will definetely challenge McLaren and might even beat them, but that Ferrari is too far for them. But, you should never discount anyone and we’ll have to see ;-)

  10. Horacio said on 8th April 2008, 15:42

    Could you imagen a BMW+Alonso… That’s a winning formula!

  11. Phil B said on 8th April 2008, 16:19

    #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.

  12. A. Nother said on 8th April 2008, 16:29

    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.

  13. DanielPT said on 8th April 2008, 16:37

    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…

  14. Scott Joslin said on 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.

  15. Gman said on 8th April 2008, 17:08

    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.

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