BMW Sauber team chief Mario Theissen has admitted that his team may now have to settle for third place in the Formula One championship standings following a tough weekend at the Hungaroring.
Having shown the pace to challenge both McLaren and Ferrari earlier in the campaign – as highlighted in dramatic fashion in Canada where Robert Kubica led home Nick Heidfeld for a 1-2 finish – the team endured a frustrating time in Hungary as Kubica could only manage eighth place and Heidfeld came home outside the points in tenth.
Indeed, since scoring a maximum 18 points in Montreal in early June, the Hinwil-based outfit has picked up just 20 points in the last four races. That compares to 38 points for Ferrari and 47 points for McLaren in the same period and means BMW now lies 21 points behind the Scuderia
and ten points behind McLaren in the constructors' championship.
With fourth placed Toyota a distant 55 points behind, BMW is all but assured of finishing at least third in the championship barring a remarkable turnaround in the F1 pecking order over the remainder of the campaign, and Theissen admitted that third could well be the best his team could hope for if it doesn't improve on its performance in Budapest.
"Based on the performance and points yield of the Budapest weekend, you'd say certainly not," he told the official F1 website when asked if the team can reclaim second place. "But naturally we will not twiddle our thumbs, as we still have developments in the pipeline - aerodynamic as well as mechanical. We will definitely not stop the development of the F1.08 because of one unsatisfying result."
Theissen added that even days after race took place, the team was still scratching its head to find out what had led to its loss of competitiveness.
"In the last two years we have been on the podium, so there must be another explanation behind this disappointing performance," he said. "We were not just slow, we were also inconsistent. Like at Ferrari, we also witnessed that one car was doing much better than the other.
"There was something out there that we did not understand."