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Kubica learned of BMW decision by email
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Kubica learned of BMW decision by email
Posted By: James Allen  |  20 Aug 2009   |  6:33 pm GMT  |  17 comments

Robert Kubica had a wry grin on his face this afternoon when a few of us caught up with him at his press briefing. The Pole has had a couple of weeks to digest the news that his BMW team will not be in F1 next year and this means upheaval and change for him. He knows that it’s a case of what might have been, but he also has to look forwards.

Astonishingly the way he heard about the news was first from an internet site which ran a speculative piece before the announcement and then soon after he got an email telling him the news. Not a phone call, an email. Needless to say he didn’t appear too impressed with this.

There is a terrible irony for Kubica about the way BMW’s demise has come about. He was pushing for the team to throw everything at developing the 2008 car as he felt that they had the chance to win the title and that you never know when that chance may come again. I remember his anger as the season ebbed away from him, the corporate non-racer mentality of the management having decided to focus on 2009 and only developments which had carry-over potential.

“If you see what I said last year, unfortunately the worst scenario happened, ” he said. “Last year I was a bit upset because I felt like we didn’t do the maximum to take our opportunity to fight for the championship because I said it might never happen again. Now, what we know one year later, it’s that BMW with me in the car, at least in the near future, never has a chance to be leading or fighting for the championship. But that’s how it is, that’s racing and the way the sport works. The situation overall is very disappointing, and this decision doesn’t help.”

This year hasn’t been as good as last year in terms of showcasing Kubica’s abilities. He has at times been outperformed by team mate Nick Heidfeld, which wasn’t the case last year. Nevertheless his stock is still pretty high in F1 and he has possibilities for next year such as Williams, Renault and Brawn. I think he probably views them in that order at the moment. But there is time. This is likely to be a season where many driver movements take place, probably the most we’ve seen for many years, especially if Alonso moves to Ferrari.

I’ve posted recently that Williams is starting to look like a team of the future, which is amazing when you think how desperate things got for them in recent years as they struggled to keep up with the free-spending manufacturers.

Renault would dearly love to have Kubica, because he is one of the few really strong drivers potentially available. Bear in mind that they are looking for a new title sponsor to replace ING and any new sponsor is likely to want to know who the drivers will be before signing on the dotted line. Kovalainen and Grosjean, for example, might not stir their blood like Kubica and Grosjean would.

Kubica is not worried for himself, but rather for the mechanics and staff at the team headquarters in Hinwil. Efforts are ongoing to save the team, but it’s being said in Germany that BMW were looking for €65 million for the team, which is a high price when you consider that Honda sold to the team to its management for £1.

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17 Comments
  1. Red Kimi says:

    I would love to see Alonso and Kubica on the same team…. I don’t think Kubica would go along with being #2 though

    1. Martin Collyer says:

      Remember 2007, McLaren Red Kimi, it seems Alonso wants a clear number 2. You make the point well that Kubica would not accept that.

  2. Werewolf says:

    Despite a disappointing year, I cannot see Robert Kubica failing to land a reasonable seat for next year. He is one of the fastest racers in F1 today, even if he does have a slightly idiosyncratic driving style. My personal preference is Williams, with or without Nico Rosberg; his direct,frills-free approach seems a good match and he could be just what they need to help drive the team forward.

    If one accepts the conventional wisdom that Fernando Alonso is the best out there – and one of very few drivers capable of truly out-performing a car – then Renault’s last two seasons are probably worse than many realise. It is hard to imagine they are top of many drivers’ wish lists for 2010, yet there are some good people in the team and the need to attract investment could mean a lucrative deal for someone.

    As for Nick Heidfeld, his work ethic and not unreasonable pace surely make him quite employable just below the top echelons (or as second driver). As James points out, he has been at least as quick as Kubica this year and while the latter, I feel, has greater ultimate speed, Heidfeld remains a useful if unspectacular player.

    1. Neil says:

      Regarding “Quick Nick”, I think he would be a great asset to any team, particularly one of the new ones. I think his top-flight team days have probably passed, but his record as a car developer is very strong.

      I suspect he will go down as one of the best drivers never to win a Grand Prix. He has consistently beaten his previous team mates, and roughly matched Kubica. (Over the last 3 years both have been on top for spells, and both have struggled for spells.)

      I wonder what would have happened if Merc had picked him over Kimi for the McLaran seat all those years ago?

    2. Rudy Pyatt says:

      I’ve always felt that Heidfeld is underrated, and you’ve made a fair assessment. He reminds me of Richie Ginther: fast enough to run at the front without taking foolish risks, mechanically sympathetic and a very good test and development driver. Like Ginther, he’s never looked bad in any team, in any car. IF the home team (USF1) does take on an experienced F1 hand, Quick Nick is the ideal choice. I think Peter Windsor rates him, and I’ll lay 3-to-1 that’s exactly what will happen.

      1. James Allen says:

        Not sure he’s a big enough character for that team, which will be very strong on pr, viral video, events giving sponsor support etc.

      2. Werewolf says:

        Ah, Richie Ginther. After the late and much-lamented Phil Hill, then Dan Gurney and Mario Andretti, what happened to the great days of Americans in F1?

      3. not totally sure, but there was definitely a technological shift between USAC and F1 in the early 70′s which seems to have hurt the chances of a lot drivers from the America’s since then.

        Notably, any US drivers that have been in F1 since have had to do the European feeder system – the only exception being Mario Andretti, who basically won in nearly every single formula he drove in.

    3. Stevie P says:

      re: “Renault’s last two seasons are probably worse than many realise”

      That may be so, but they do develop their car during the season, albeit with one driver getting lots of attention; the other practically nothing. Which may attract Kubica, if he can become the “choosen one”.

      After BMW’s mid-season development halt in ’08, Kubica might be looking for a team that takes a car, works upon it and develops it throughout an entire season.

      Still stunned that he was informed by email of BMW’s decision!

  3. VV says:

    Kubica and Hulkenberg at Williams, perhaps? Either way, they should really try and get shot of Nakajima, and Hulkenberg can’t do much worse. Kubica is clearly very good, and deserves a decent seat.

  4. Rocky says:

    I really have lost complete respect for BMW, as a team and a manufacturing company. Audi, here is my cash for my next car.

  5. jw1980 says:

    James,

    I have read on the Autosport website that BMW have entered for next year’s world championship obviously in the hope that they can sell the team. Is this correct? Personally I cannot believe that they will be able to sell the team for £65 million if the rumours are true.
    Which of the other new teams can be taken seriously in terms of entering F1 next year? Epsilon Euskadi (from an outsider’s perspective) look the most creditable outfit to me.

    1. James Allen says:

      That story was reported in Auto Motor und Sport a few days ago. They have the support of FOTA. I’m looking into it.

  6. supervly says:

    OK BMW will not be supplying engines next year so whoever buys BMW will have to arrange an engine supply – the cheapest option would be Cosworth and i think for the year they would be charging 5 Million euros. So essentially you would need 70 miilion euros to get started , the other new teams hoping to get going for 40 .

    Begs the question, can an engine supply be found still this close to new year

    1. Werewolf says:

      The 70m euro tab is an interesting point. It does, however, include experienced personnel, state-of-the-art factory, presumably the wind tunnel and powerful, advanced computer facilities. Possibly even the estimable Mario Thiessen! I do not know whether the 2008 development gaffe was his or the BMW board’s but you can bet he’s learned from it …

  7. Antoine says:

    Next Heikki Kovalainen will learn he’s been dropped by McLarren via JamesAllen’s twitter, I mean Sebastien Bourdais got an SMS when he learned he was fired :-(

    1. James Allen says:

      Unlikely, Whitmarsh is close to Kovalainen. However Franz Tost denies that he fired Bourdais by SMS

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