Mario Theissen put out a quick Q & A today with some comments about FOTA, a look back at the winter testing and a quandry about whether to use KERS or not at the first race. He makes no mention of the Brawn phenomenon.
BMW’s testing has gone pretty well, but not outstandingly. Many, including myself, though that they would start the year with an advantage over Ferrari and McLaren because they devoted more energy earlier to the 2009 programme than their rivals. But despite topping the time sheets occasionally at tests, they have yet to show blistering pace. Robert Kubica signed off in Barcelona on s bit of a down note, saying he felt that BMW was behind Ferrari, Brawn and Toyota.
My only thought is that last winter they masked their true performance in testing by carrying extra fuel and that became clear once the racing started. They could be doing that again, but I’m not hearing the chatter from the other teams about it like I was 12 months ago. Then again, Brawn’s performance has recalibrated everyone’s expectations.
Theissen confirms Kubica’s line last week that the team has yet to decide whether to use the KERS system in Melbourne.
” We’ve got our KERS to the stage where it is race-ready, which means we can use it in Melbourne. Now it’s just a matter of weighing up the pros and cons. On the positive side, the drivers would have an extra 82 hp at their disposal for 6.6 seconds per lap. However, the system adds weight to the car and this has an impact on the car’s weight distribution and tyre wear. We will make a decision on a driver-by-driver, circuit-by-circuit basis.”
The driver by driver bit is significant as he goes on to say that KERS really punishes heavier drivers and although Kubica is a whippet, he’s still heavier than Heidfeld. I can see Quick Nick using the system at times where Kubica doesn’t.
As to the objectives for the season, Thiessen stops short of coming out with a bald,’ We must win the title” line. He’s a master of setting achievable targets and hitting them, that’s the corporate player in him. Although the expectation now has to be to fight for the title down to the wire, he’s more cagey than that.
“We are following a long-term timetable,” he says. “In our first year we set out to finish regularly in the points, in year two we wanted to record podium finishes and in our third year we were aiming to notch up our first victory. We achieved all of these ambitious aims. In 2009 we are looking to take the next and most difficult step yet: we want to be fighting for the World Championship title. The F1.09 gives us a good platform to fulfil this aim; now we have to see what happens in the season’s 17 races. What we know for certain is that you can plan your level of performance, but not your results.”