BMW-Sauber has admitted that it is at a loss to explain its poor performance in last weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix – a race in which the squad produced by some margin its worst showing of the 2008 season to-date.
Not only did the Munich and Hinwil-based concern surrender its second place in the constructors' world championship to McLaren-Mercedes, but neither Robert Kubica nor Nick Heidfeld seemed to have any great pace at all as the duo finished respectively eighth and tenth in Budapest – the former slipping a full four places back from his second row starting spot.
“That was a difficult race,” Kubica reflected with a hint of understatement. “We were very slow, and I was struggling with the overall grip of the car. I had massive oversteer and could not really push. I was trying hard to keep the car on the track. Anyway, one point is better than nothing.”
“My start wasn't perfect, but okay,” added Heidfeld, who came home just under 20 seconds adrift of his team-mate after running an audacious one-stop strategy in a valiant bid to make up for his poor grid position. “As I had hoped, I was able to overtake three cars on the first lap, but later it became more difficult than expected to race with the heavy car.
“We went for a one-stop strategy, so my car was almost full of fuel at the start and I also had to take care of the tyres. I couldn't match the pace of the cars in front of me. Now we have to analyse the lack of race pace – normally this is one of our strengths!”
Both BMW Motorsport Director Dr Mario Theissen and the former Sauber squad's technical director Willy Rampf agreed that much work must now be done if the team is to recover its early-season form – when it secured six rostrum finishes, including its breakthrough victory in Montreal, from just the opening seven grands prix of the campaign.
“We were completely off the pace during the race,” acknowledged Theissen. “Neither driver was able to do the lap times we expected after the sessions on Friday and Saturday. It was the same on both tyre compounds. The reason for that is currently not clear, but we shall analyse everything.
“Of course we are very disappointed with Sunday's performance,” concurred Rampf. “Now we need to analyse why we were not able to match our qualifying performance during the race. We shall do this in the factories in Hinwil and Munich because, due to the testing break, we are not able to test before the next race in Valencia in three weeks.”