BMW need double diffuser to put their 2009 campaign back on track in Turkey

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

BMW were nowhere at Monaco
BMW were nowhere at Monaco

BMW scored their first F1 win in the seventh round of 2008 in Canada.

But this year they look to the seventh race – the Turkish Grand Prix – with hopes of turning their season around after a disastrous start to a year that promised much.

Its F1.09 will finally have a double diffuser, over six weeks since the FIA ruled they were legal. Will this finally propel it into the ranks of the regular points scorers?

The team which lay third in the championship with 52 points after six races last year has scored just six so far in 2009 and lies eighth.

No-one will feel the pain of BMW’s struggled more acutely than Robert Kubica. He feels his chance at grabbing the 2008 championship was squandered by the team which diverted its energies to developing its 2009 car and helping Nick Heidfeld with his qualifying problems.

Kubica, the winner of last year’s Canadian Grand Prix, is yet to score this season. This despite him being in with a shout of winning the first race this year before his late collision with Sebastian Vettel.

This illustrates the slump BMW have fallen into. While other teams brought incremental updates to their cars in the opening races, the F1.09 stayed in roughly the same technical specification in those opening ‘flyaway races’. Here’s how they have performed so far:

Q/R Robert Kubica Nick Heidfeld
Australia 4/14 9/10
Malaysia 6/DNF 10/2
China 17/13 11/12
Bahrain 13/18 14/19
Spain 10/11 13/7
Monaco 17/DNF 16/11

As well as introducing their double diffuser this weekend, the team will also be dropping KERS, which it has used sporadically since the start of the season.

Kubica bemoaned the inflexibility that led BMW to committing to its 2009 plan last year even when the 2008 title was in the offing – and their lack of progress so far this year:

Situations like this are common in motor racing; you never know where you are going to be next year. That’s why I was disappointed last year when we did not seize our chance when we were very close to the front. In our team everything is always planned step by step. But sometimes you have to deviate from your plans.

It is remarkable how the team that in the last three years have been a model of rational, successful, gradual progress in F1 have gotten it so badly wrong.

Judging the situation optimistically, perhaps BMW suffered a similar lack of grip in slow corners that blighted Toyota at Monte-Carlo as well. A return to Istanbul, a much more typical F1 track, may suit their car better.

Do you think Monaco was a blip in BMW’s recovery? Or are they destined to spend 2009 scratching at the rear of the field? And will their drivers stick around? Have your say below…