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BMW boss – Now for the world title
BMW boss – Now for the world title
Posted By:   |  16 Mar 2009   |  12:20 pm GMT  |  24 comments

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.”

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Clackers, don’t worry! Button did 12 laps before a gremlin got him, expect him to do alot of mileage tomorrow. The fact he did an 18.892 at the start of a race simulation is quite incredible and testament to the potential speed of the Brawn GP car. I don’t quite understand how they have lost their advantage already? What advantage? This is testing, we do not know true pace until Quali of Round 1 but Brawn appear to be very much at the front for now.


Having observed the Jerez test today, I must say that BMW now start favourites for Melbourne. Brawn seem to be losing their advantage over the rest ALREADY (a feat even for a former Honda team) and they now have reliability gremlins to iron out, which won’t happen before Melbourne IMO.

We all know Button needs a lot of testing time to get himself acquainted, but now he only did 12 laps today, compared to Rosberg’s 123 in the Williams. I fear tomorrow’s testing will confirmmy fears.


I don’t think BMW are ready for the title, and nor do I think Robert Kubica is quite of the standard of Raikonnen, Hamilton, Alonso and Massa. In fact, I think Button’s a better driver than him. I’d be amazed if he became a world champion.


– This is going to be a big problem for viewers. How are we supposed to know which drivers are using KERS and when they are pressing the button? What about the flaps? How will the commentators deal with it?
– I can hear it already; “Heidfeld has overtaken Webber. Heidfeld is using KERS this race; I wonder if he used it for that maneuver? Webber is catching him up; is he using his KERS button? Maybe he reduced his wing.”
– Bernie really needs to hurry up and die so we can get somebody with intelligence to not only broadcast F1 in HD but also devise a system for conveying this information.


2 F1 fan:

They did, but Alonso and both BGP drivers posted times under 1m19s, so Lewis anyway was more than second slower. Here’s the times, mate:
1. Fernando Alonso 1:18.343 (99 laps)
2. Rubens Barrichello 1:18.398 (62)
3. Jenson Button 1:18.892 (12)
4. Lewis Hamilton 1:19.513 (85)
5. Nico Rosberg 1:19.783 (123)


I think they are still up with Ferrari and Toyota, but I don’t think the title is possible for them. Not because of the drivers, but the car isn’t the fastest.

Also a little off topic, I heard McLaren did a time under 1:20 with a new diffuser and front wing. Is this true?



I disagree about Robert and agree about Nick.

Nick is very consistent, technically skilled driver who is not afraid to overtake or get into it on track. His strength lies in is ability to execute a plan flawlessly. Unfortunate, this is also part of his weakness as BMW’s plans are frequently concocted for the maximum possible point load. In this sense, Nick has never truly been free to fight for the WDC, instead, dutifully putting in his time for BMW. We’ll see if they reward him.

Personally, I do not think they will. I think they realize the sort of talent they have with Kubica, and their efforts to win a WDC will come from him. The biggest difference that I see is their ability to maximize the potential of the car. Frequently we see Nick get into set-up trouble that ends up bungling his qualifying (knock on to race).

On the other hand, Robert tends to drive around the problems, willing his car to the limit. It’s an archtypical battle of a technical, intellectual thinking driver versus a feel, seat of the pants style driver.

I think BMW will be a strong challenger for the WCC this year. They are too methodical and Theissen is very much in control of his outfit. It will be more interesting to see how he deals with his drivers. It was clear towards the end of last year that Robert wanted “#1” status and the teams efforts geared toward him as he was still mathematically in the mix for WDC. If he doesn’t get this preferential treatment so that BMW can secure its WCC, I will be interested to see how their relationship develops.

On the note of BMW sand bagging… they are doing what they have always done in testing. They obviously are not sand-bagging, but they haven’t played their full hand. I expect some fun strategy from BMW for Melbourne.


I think that their 2008 politics were ridiculous. They should have fought for the title while they could. Now… who knows.


Any driver/team can win the WDC/WCC if they have a vastly superior car, so anything is possible – but if the cars are close and if the drivers really will make the difference between winning and losing (as James discussed in an earlier article) then I’m doubtful as to whether either Nick or Robert have the strength in depth to win the WDC.

They both clearly have talent and have earned respect (especially Kubica after that heart stopping accident in Canada), but I haven’t seen anything in either of them SO FAR to think that they would be natural candidates for the WDC title.

Maybe BMW are sandbagging, but they haven’t shown any great potential in testing pre-season and I’m not sure if the team has the qualities and ‘thoroughbred racing passion’ needed to sustain a WCC challenge over a whole season.

I wish them all well, but would expect the WDC/WCC titles to elude BMW in 2009.


I think BMW are worried they are off the pace and have accordingly played down expectations and not blown their own trumpet. I’d be willing to bet that a Brawn GP car (hopefully Jenson Button) will win the Australian GP, they have pulled off a blinder not using KERS on their car yet, I think it gives a big advantage in terms of ballast, tyre wear and therefore outright speed!


We have to be impressed with the progress BMW have made since breaking with Williams.

When Thiessen announced the Williams divorce, one famous pundit, and former editor of “Motor Sport”, declared, “BMW would never win a Grand Prix.”

It wasn’t long before I had to email him privately with the recipe for “Umble Pie”.

Kubica sounds a great bloke too, sleeping in the factory during his karting days, not fussed over his salary, courage after his awful accident, plus quick = RESPECT.

It’s interesting that Mario says they can switch the car between; with and without KERS, so easily. I would have thought it was difficult because of the close integration with the power unit.


It seems a bit unfair that KERS should benefit the lighter drivers. Surely the FIA should have seen this coming and raised the minimum weight of the cars by a few kg’s. It would be in their interests to do that, because it looks as though some of the teams are prioritising ballast over the power boost KERS gives and not running it at all.

PS, I’ve just checked the betting odds for the 2009 season outright- Jenson Button is now joint favourite for the title!!! Presumably Dodo’s still exist and Elvis is still alive too…


They could have pushed for the champoinship last year!

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