BMW-Sauber has 'work to do' to improve the balance of its F1.09 after Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld languished woefully off the pace in practice for this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix, both with or without KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems).
After lapping respectively 13th (Kubica) and 18th in the morning, the pair went slower in the afternoon as most other drivers improved, with the upshot being that they wound up a lowly 18th and 20th at the close of play in Sepang, sandwiching the Scuderia Toro Rosso of Sébastien Bourdais
Even if both insisted that they had been focussing their efforts on chasing race set-up rather than outright lap time, still the early signs do not make for particularly encouraging reading.
“Today we concentrated totally on race preparation, and particularly on tyre comparisons,” revealed Kubica. “The specifications that Bridgestone have brought to Malaysia are very different from the ones we used in Melbourne, and obviously Sepang also has different characteristics.
“In addition, the track temperatures were much higher here, so it was a new situation. We gathered a lot of data and have the basis to use the tyres to their full potential during the race. While we were doing long runs today, tomorrow we will focus on the single-lap performance.”
”Certainly the results don't look good,” acknowledged Heidfeld, a man unaccustomed to bringing up the very rear of the order on the timesheets, “but in Melbourne it was a similar picture on Friday. Nevertheless, we do have some work to do in order to improve the balance of the car.
“In the first session I was running with KERS and in the second I didn't use the device. Using it makes a huge difference to the car's balance, but without it there is the loss of the boost. This was the experience we wanted and why we took it out for this session. Now we will throw everything into the mix – lap times, data and my feelings – and then decide whether or not to use KERS here.”
BMW lost out on a certain podium finish or perhaps even better when Kubica collided with Red Bull Racing star Sebastian Vettel as the duo scrapped energetically over the runner-up spoils in the closing stages in Albert Park – leaving the Bavarian manufacturer, like key rivals Ferrari and McLaren-Mercedes, with no points on the board arriving in Malaysia. That is a situation the team knows needs to change this weekend.
”We stuck to our planned programme today and concentrated on race preparation,” concluded the Munich and Hinwil-based outfit's head of engineering Willy Rampf. “One focus point was the tyre comparison on the long runs.
“Apart from that we tested two different options with Nick today – in the first session he drove with KERS and in the second without. We did this for two reasons; on the one hand we wanted to get a direct comparison, and on the other hand we wanted to practice changing in-between the two sessions. We did not have any technical problems.”