The BMW Sauber F1 team has paid tribute to the efforts of its pit crew after Nick Heidfeld claimed six places to finish the Spanish Grand Prix with a rare haul of points.

Having again missed out on the final phase of qualifying - despite developments to the F1.09 at least elevating it out of first phase elimination - Heidfeld benefited from the opening lap melee triggered by fellow veteran Jarno Trulli, and then gained a further place at each of his pit-stops to be running in seventh spot when the chequered flag fell.

However, as he later revealed, the German's race was far from straight-forward and also relied on elements of luck and driver skill to ensure that he added to the paltry four-point haul that he and the BMW Sauber team had managed leading into the Barcelona event.

"It was a tough race, but I think it was one of my better ones," the German commented, "I had hoped for points as a birthday present, but honestly didn't really believe in this as I was starting from 13th.

"The start was the decisive time, as I gained four positions. In the first corner, I was hit from behind but, luckily, my car wasn't damaged. It was not easy to defend my position against Kimi Raikkonen later in the race, and our fight slowed me down, so I lost the contact with the frontrunners, [but] our pit crew did a fantastic job and got me in front of Nico Rosberg at my second stop.

"It is a great result for us and the race pace proved the new aero package is a clear improvement, which is very good news for the rest of the season."

While Heidfeld was profiting, however, team-mate Robert Kubica - whose results had helped BMW Sauber arrive in Barcelona for the 2008 Spanish GP at the head of the points - managed only eleventh spot, having lost ground at the start and then found himself mired in traffic. The Pole, expected to be a title challenger this season, remains scoreless in 2009.

"At the start, I lost several places due to a clutch problem - but that was only the beginning of a very difficult race," Kubica sighed, "After the safety car period, my car had no grip at all - I just couldn't push as the car was sliding all over the place. I really don't understand what happened. Up to Q3 yesterday everything was going well, and the performance of the car was good, but today there was nothing I could do. We have to analyse what happened."

Regardless of Kubica's result - and complaints - the team was buoyed by the performance of its new aero package, especially as it doesn't yet include a definitive 'double decker' diffuser.

"The significant modifications we made to the F1.09 obviously brought us one step forward," head of engineering Willy Rampf confirmed, "Now it's all about bringing the next development steps onto the car as quickly as possible."

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