Japan GP: Race notes - BMW


The first Japanese Grand Prix at the Fuji Speedway for 30 years will be remembered as spectacular and incident packed. The BMW Sauber F1 Team drivers didn't have easy races with Robert Kubica finishing seventh and Nick Heidfeld 14th, after stopping on the track with one lap to go in sixth.

Robert Kubica: Unfortunately the beginning of the race was very risky and for me the decision to race was a bit too early, as it was difficult to see 50 metres in front. Anyway we had some problems with the water coming into the air filter and into the engine, so I lost a position at the start because I had no power in the engine. With the higher revs it cleaned up and I overtook the two Renaults. I was doing a good pace but unfortunately I touched with Lewis Hamilton, had my pit stop, then a penalty, which I was surprised to get. I was running much quicker than him and in corner 13 or 14 he was doing a completely different line or made a mistake, so he was completely wide. I stayed on the inside, he cut into the apex and I was there and unfortunately we touched. I think it was a race accident. On the re-start after the second safety car I had the misfire problem again with the water so it cost me time again as I had to stay behind Rubens Barrichello. Then the finish was the fight with Felipe Massa, which was a bit risky. He overtook me before corner six, then I overtook him back and then into corner ten if I had turned normally he would have hit me and I preferred to finish the race. He pushed me out, I tried to overtake him on the last corner but he went wide and there was more grip off the track and he won the position. We made a bit of action and in the end we laughed.

Nick Heidfeld: In my opinion the race should not have been started under these weather conditions. For me it was a very difficult situation when the safety car came in after 19 laps. My radio didn't work and I had a misfire. Because the decision whether the safety car comes in or not is made during a lap, the team couldn't even tell me on the pit board. So I always tried to see the safety-car which wasn't easy. Fortunately I saw when it switched off the lights to come in. Due to the misfire I was only in sixth gear on the straight which means I was relatively slow. That was very dangerous because the drivers behind me could hardly see me. I tried to find a line where I would be as safe as possible. That's why Kimi Räikkönen could pass me on the left hand side. I was just happy we didn't crash. But then Jenson Button crashed into my car and damaged it. First I wanted to pit but then decided I could drive the car somehow. Basically my race was ruined with the accident. In the end I still could have finished 6th, but then my car broke down.

Mario Theissen (BMW Motorsport Director): As is usual with wet races this one was very dramatic and our drivers where not left out of this drama. Nick lost his chance of a good result on the first lap after the Safety Car pulled off due to a collision. Later Robert also had a collision and dropped back due to a drive-through penalty. Both then fought their way back into the points. On the penultimate lap Nick stopped with a technical failure, which we are investigating. It was a race to forget for our team. Congratulation to Lewis Hamilton who seemed to be totally unaffected by what was happening around him on the track, and drove his car home safely. He took a big step in the direction of the championship.

Willy Rampf (Technical Director): It was an extremely disappointing race. We lost our good grid positions right after the Safety Car pulled off. Nick was hit off from behind and Robert had to brake because of that. Anyway they both fought back and made up some positions. Just before the end of this spectacular race we were sixth and seventh, but then Nick had to stop because of a technical problem. In the final metres Robert had to let Felipe Massa pass after a hard fight.

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Published: 30/09/2007
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