Robert Kubica out of title hunt

Robert Kubica’s slim hopes of winning the drivers’ title this year came to an end at Shanghai.

After starting 11th and finishing sixth, Kubica is 19 points behind championship leader Lewis Hamilton.

There has been some tension between Kubica and BMW over the team’s priorities this year. After scoring his first Grand Prix win at Montreal Kubica encouraged the team to focus on its title challenge this year.

But resources have been divided between the 2009 challenger, and more time was spent solving Nick Heidfeld’s qualifying problems.

On top of that, in a year when the other two title contenders have thrown points away, Kubica has been a model of consistency by comparison. His most significant points losses were out of his control: being eliminated by Kazuki Nakajima at Melbourne and his penalty under the safety car at Singapore.

The BMW F1.08 might not have been quick enough to mount a championship challenge, but Kubica is certainly ready.

F1 Fanatic readers voted Kubica the driver they most wanted to win the championship last week. We’ll run the poll again in the run-up to the season finale.

Championship points after China

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17 comments on Robert Kubica out of title hunt

  1. Oliver said on 19th October 2008, 13:01

    Well the flames of hope were rekindled just as quickly as they were snuffed out.

  2. We’ll run the poll again in the run-up to the season finale.

    When I predict that Alonso will win.

  3. Patrickl said on 19th October 2008, 20:00

    I think BMW played their cards right. Kubica was never on for the world championship. Obviously he collected some points while the front fighters were battling it out, but really that’s all he did, pick up the crumbles left by errors from others (mechanical/driver/FIA).

    BMW got Heidfeld back on track (sort of at least) and he deserved this since he was faster than Kubica all through 2007 and they need the points for the constructors championship. Actually just like they helped Kubica a little extra during 2007. I thought it was incredibly unsportsmanlike of Kubica to whine about them helping out Heidfeld. Makes it a bit more clear why he gets along with Alonso so well.

    Their only hope was third (or maybe even second) place in the constructors. They rightly chose to go for that and focus a little more on 2009 already.

  4. tbh, I think Kubica is overrated and am not sure he is truly better than Nick.

  5. Kubica is better than Heidfeld.
    He will win the championship in other team. Not in BMW. They are very cold for serious things.
    Ferrari should swap Massa to Kubica

  6. chaostheory said on 20th October 2008, 0:21

    This year it was a great chance for BMW to grab at least 2nd place in constructors championship and even win the drivers champ, but they let it go after Montreal. Kubica saw a chance there when he saw his rivals having problems/making a lot of mistakes, thats why he wasnt happy with his team decision to take most resources for 2009 preparation. I just hope this move will payoff and F1.09 will be more competitive than this year car, and if not – then BMW will compromise themselves (especially that they are working on 09 car almost 6 months now it seems).

  7. Kubica is miles ahead of Nick as a driver. Without him, BMW would likely be 4th or 5th right now. It was painful to watch him try to drag that cow of a car around the track in the past 4 races. Nick has always been a good #2, but that’s all. It cracks me up when experts single out Kubica to win WDC in the future, while people without a clue about F1 claim “he is no better then Heidfeld.” Yeah, right. And i could be an F1 driver, too (that’s sarcasm).
    Give Kubica a decent car (like a BMW in the first 1/2 of the season) and he’ll win. Tale P1 and P2 in qualifying is hardly “picking crumbs” my friends…

  8. charlie said on 20th October 2008, 11:08

    Pete – right on! KUB is the best driver, period. I don’t understand either why some get so hung up on the fact that KUB “capitalized on others’ errors”. Like he was sitting around and the podium just happened. what a piece of nonsense. one has to be a darn good racer to find himself in positions to “pick up the crumbs”. give him better equipment and he’s unquestionably #1. btw, any idea why he wasn’t on a one stop strategy in china?

  9. chaostheory said on 20th October 2008, 11:31

    I was watching TV after the race and there was Kubicas father and he was also suprised that Robert wasnt on one stop strategy. But i guess one stop wouldnt be good this time as the car would be even slower than it was (especially in the 1st stint). Besides, Robert got passed Vettel and Glock in the pits, so BMW got everything they could with their strategy.

  10. schumi the greatest said on 20th October 2008, 12:35

    i can undersatnd why kubica was unhappy at bmw decision to concentrate on 09 and heidfeild’s problems when he was leading the championship after some 7 rounds. thtas no mean feat.

    BMW seem to think they live in some idealistic world with theyre “5-year-plan”. winning the championship wasn’t planned this year so they dont want to. ive never heard something so ridiclulous in my life. life and especially f1 doesnt work in 5-year-plans. they could get it totally wrong next year and be nowhere,no team should ever take a shot at the championship for granted. jordan had very slim chance in 99 with frentzen for the wdc (another year when it seems the main contenders didnt want to win it) just 4 years later they had to sell the team, that team is now force india and rock bottom of the pecking order.

    i think kubica as a driver, has been superb this season, so consistent. already people are pointing to this consistency as the factor which would make him a champion if given the right car. I agree with half of that, he hasnt faced any real pressure to deliver results yet, then we’ll know for definite if he has enough to become a champion. hes certainly got the pace to do it, his defensive driving against raikkonen at fuji was awesome.

    but i go back to my original point, seasons like this, where the main tittle protaganists fall off the road and do pretty pirroettes in the rain dont happen every year. bmw should have pressed on with their 2008 car and i think they may come to regret the decision, i hope for kubica’s sake they dont.

    although i have gone slightly off him since he started criticising hamilton to the press (a direct result of his friendship with alonso if you ask me, he just wasnt like that 6-9 months ago) i still think he has the talent to win a wdc crown. but he might have to move teams to do it

  11. John Spencer said on 20th October 2008, 15:01

    I don’t think I could seriously support Kubica for the championship when he has won only 1 race to Felipe and Lewis’s 5 each. Sure, consistency is the key, but suppose someone steady had picked up third place at pretty much every race except three where they’d only got fourth – they’d be on 94 points right now, same as Lewis. Would you want the hare or the tortoise to be champion?

  12. John, it’s as much about consistency as it is about winning races – championships have in the past been won by drivers only winning one or two GPs but picking up lots of points elsewhere while drivers who’d won more races did not.

    Sure, Kubica was only in with a shout going into Sunday’s race because Hamilton and Massa had made so many mistakes this season, but that recognises the fact that over the course of a season consistent finishing in points positions can reap rewards. Just think what he could have achieved if BMW Sauber had got their priorities right after his Canadian win!

    I rate Kubica as one of the very best drivers in F1 at the moment. The fact that he came so close in what was until Singapore the third-best car on the grid says a lot for his ability. Frankly, I am surprised that Ferrari have not moved to sign him for 2009.

  13. Patrickl said on 20th October 2008, 21:13

    He’s third in the third fastest car. Is that really as impressive as you want us to believe? This means he’s faster than Kovalainen, Heidfeld and Raikkonen.

    Obviously Kovalainen is having some severe adjustment issues and several drivers are faster than Kovalainen.

    Indeed Raikkonen has thrown away a lot of points. I guess you could say Kubica is more consistent than Raikkonen, but again I really don’t see that as a great achievement. Raikkonen is fighting for the championship and has to take risks to go for the win. Maybe with hindsight Raikkonen should have just settled for less points, but still. Would Kubica really have had to go for the win he would have had to take more risks too. His constency would have fallen.

    Then Heidfeld. This year indeed Kubica got the better of Heidfeld. Last year the roles were quite reversed though. Heidfeld consistently beat Kubica the whole season. It’s most likely that indeed their reversal of results is caused by the characteristics of the car.

  14. chaostheory said on 20th October 2008, 21:28

    Patrickl – RK is third in fourth or even fifth fastest car; BMW was second fastest car at the beginning of season but they fell behind in second part of the year.

  15. Filipe said on 20th October 2008, 21:38

    I don’t think it’s a as simple as some think. Yes, with the handsight about the amount of ponts Lewis lose due to FIA and his own mistakes and those that Massa lost due to Ferrari’s and his own, plus Kimi sleepwalking throughout the season, it does look like Kubica could have a real shot. But look at the post montreal results and given that Singapore was beyond BMW control, he might have done better in some other extra races (Germany and Hungary mostly), but unless BMW could improve the car enough to have another couple of wins, there’s really not much more that he could do. I’d say 10 extra points probably (with Lewis and Massa with a couple less then they have today), which would put him at best where Massa is now.

    The truth is we will only know for sure that was a bad call a couple of races into 2009 season. If BMW did another leap and is truly competitive next season, then the choice was right.

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