Nick Heidfeld may have raced to his tenth points-scoring result of the 2008 Formula 1 World Championship in the sport's inaugural Singapore Grand Prix at the weekend – in the process lifting him to within a single marker of defending world champion Kimi Raikkonen in the drivers' standings – but he insisted he was frustrated at not having been able to finish higher up.
Though he qualified sixth – directly behind BMW-Sauber team-mate Robert Kubica, whose early promise was dashed by having to serve a stop-and-go penalty for pitting before the pit-lane had re-opened under the first safety car period, eventually taking the chequered flag in a distant eleventh place – Heidfeld was penalised three spots on the grid for having been deemed to have baulked Honda rival Rubens Barrichello in Q1.
From there the 31-year-old ran eighth during the opening stint – around a circuit on which overtaking was at something of a premium – rising to sixth position in the closing stages, tracking the Scuderia Toro Rosso of Sebastian Vettel all the way to the finish line.
“Although I shouldn't complain about finishing sixth when I came from ninth, I must say it is such a shame I couldn't show my pace,” the experienced German mused afterwards. “The car was so good and I could have gone a lot faster if I hadn't been stuck in traffic all the time.
“I was even saving fuel and tyres because I hoped the others would kill their tyres and I could attack later. I think some did ruin their rubber, but still this wasn't enough of an advantage to overtake. I had a good start during which I managed to pass Nico Rosberg. However, because of how the race turned out for me I hardly sweated at all.”
“The race was physically very hard,” countered Kubica, 17 seconds behind the sister F1.08 at the close. “There were so many bumps; I hope the organisers will work on the surface for next year. On top of that, the visibility was getting worse and worse as I was getting tired. Over the final 15 laps I had an incredible headache.
“The decision to pit on the first lap when the pit-lane was closed because of the safety car was unlucky, and cost me a good race result as the cars behind me closed the gap. The team thought the pit-lane would re-open very soon, but this was not the case. However, that's racing.”
The three points garnered by Heidfeld enabled the Munich and Hinwil-based outfit to remain just about in touch in the constructors' world championship, gaining ground on Ferrari but losing out to McLaren-Mercedes, with 15 markers now blanketing the top three teams ahead of the final three grands prix of the campaign – and 54 points left up for grabs.
“Another spectacular chapter was added to the Formula 1 history book,” stated BMW Motorsport Director Dr Mario Theissen. “The first night race was a total success – my compliments go to the organisers. The race itself was turbulent and influenced by the first safety car period.