Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica are ready for an 'intense' weekend in the United Arab Emirates for the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – with the duo preparing to bid farewell to BMW as the German car maker makes its final F1 start.
The Bavarian marque announced back in the summer that it would be leaving the top flight come season's end, partly as a result of the global credit crunch resulting in falling car sales, and partly in response to the squeeze on technological development and pushing of the boundaries brought about by the regulations for 2010 and beyond.
Unfortunately, the 2009 campaign has been far from a stellar one for BMW-Sauber, with just two rostrum finishes along the way – one for an inspired Kubica last time out in the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos, and the other for team-mate Heidfeld in the rain-shortened Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang back in April.
Those highlights aside, though, there have been slim pickings indeed, with only eight further points-scoring finishes between the pair from 30 starts – and the points tally of just 32 heading to the UAE is a distinct fall from grace compared to the upward trend of 101 in 2007 and 135 in 2008. Both drivers would dearly love to end their stints at the Munich and Hinwil-based outfit on a high – and give BMW a good send-off four years on from its arrival in F1 as a manufacturer in its own right.
“I have not been to the Abu Dhabi circuit so far,” revealed former Canadian Grand Prix-winner Kubica. “As we do not have a simulator, I only know the track from the internet and from a couple of presentations. The track looks very interesting; the facilities and the buildings around the circuit especially seem to be outstanding. However, before having done the first laps on the track with an F1 car, it is really difficult to judge the circuit itself.
“Of course I know this situation from the past – in 2008, both Valencia and Singapore were new on the calendar. Fortunately I consider myself a driver who does not need a lot of track time to be on a good pace straightaway, but I guess that a lot of cars will be out on the track on Friday in order to understand the track and learn as much as possible. I am really looking forward to going there. It will be my last race for this team, but I hope very much to see them on the grid again next year.”
“I'm very pleased to be getting another taste of summer,” added Heidfeld, “and I will be flying out to Abu Dhabi a few days early with my family. I'm really excited about the new circuit. Everyone who's been there already has described it as an incredible place, and I think it's always great to discover a new track. I haven't found the lack of a simulator to be a disadvantage at other new circuits, and this way it's even more exciting when you drive out of the garage for the first time.
“This will be a very special race for all of us in the team. So far I haven't really had that feeling of saying goodbye – but that will change in Abu Dhabi for sure, and will probably be quite intense. I very much hope that the team is given a place on the grid for 2010 soon.”