BMW Sauber's home race at Hockenheim ended in disappointing fashion when a collision between Nick Heidfeld and Jacques Villeneuve on the opening lap proved a precursor for a double retirement for both drivers.

The traditional first lap fracas claimed several victims but it was BMW bringing both of their cars into the pit lane when Villeneuve ran into the back of Heidfeld on the second corner, an incident neither would recover from.

Indeed, while the accident caused a puncture initially for Heidfeld, the German soon found the clash had damaged his brakes and as his pedal began to go long on the tenth lap, he pulled off to retire on safety grounds. Although he was disappointed to end his home grand prix early, Heidfeld accepted that the clash with Villeneuve was merely unlucky.

"My start was only average, but in the second corner I managed to overtake several cars on the outside, and among them was Jacques," Heidfeld said. "Although I braked very late, I got through the corner all right.

"Then I suddenly felt a hit on the right rear. I had to pit with a right rear puncture and changed all the tyres. But the brakes were also damaged. The pedal became longer and longer, so it was too dangerous to continue. Later I found out Jacques and myself had touched, which was unfortunate."

Villeneuve meanwhile managed to carry on with a new nose but on lap 31 found his race come to an abrupt halt when he got out of the shape coming out of the final corner, duly slamming into the wall. The Canadian blamed the earlier accident for the excessive oversteer that led to his demise.

"The impact was quite hard. After we changed the nose at the end of the first lap the car was very 'oversteery' and every time I tried to push I was sideways. I just pushed a little too hard and I got caught out there. Just before the accident I was very sideways entering the corner, but when I caught it just went straight."

Their second double DNF in three races, BMW have slipped further behind Toyota in the constructors' standings, leaving Mario Theissen frustrated with their lack of form over the weekend.

"For our team the race was practically over on the first lap. Both drivers were involved in incidents in the first corners. They continued after we changed tyres on Nick's car and a front nose on Jacques. car, but both were in hopeless positions.

"On Nick's car also parts of the rear suspension had been damaged, which caused brake problems. Jacques never managed good lap times after his stop, and on lap 31 he went off. This marked the end of a totally disappointing weekend. In Budapest we have to try to make up lost ground."

 

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