BMW Sauber were left with mixed emotions following the United States Grand Prix after seeing a good result slip through their fingers when Nick Heidfeld retired from fifth, although Sebastian Vettel kept up the team's scoring record by recording a point on his Formula 1 debut.

BMW had been tipped to star in the race after strong showings in practice, with Heidfeld getting a good getaway and jumping into fourth position from the start, a position he held for the majority of the first stint.

However, the German made a rare mistake just before his first pit stop, locking the rear tyres and spinning at turn one, dropping enough time to slip behind Heikki Kovalainen to fifth.

Spending the remainder of the race recovering from that problem, Heidfeld's fight back was futile when he was forced to retire from an effective fifth place with a hydraulic failure, much to his disappointment.

"I had a good start and overtook Kimi. On the first stint my speed was okay, and it was only in the beginning that Felipe Massa could pull away a little bit. Later when I was braking for turn one the rear wheels just locked and I spun. When I wanted to get going again, I couldn't get a gear, which was why Heikki Kovalainen could pass me.

"The spin caused a flat spotted tyre and I made my first pit stop a little early. The next laps were good, and I overtook Kimi Raikkonen and Heikki. However, when Kimi was at top speed I could not keep him behind. After the second pit stop I got stuck behind Mark Webber, but then the hydraulic problems occurred anyway."

Vettel however emerged from the race with a very different opinion after finishing eighth to become the youngest ever point scorer at 19-years-old, a mantle previously held by Jenson Button for seven years.

Still, despite the landmark result, Vettel learnt a harsh lesson at the start when a tardy getaway was followed by a trip across the grass at turn one as he attempted - and failed - to gain back the ground by braking late.

Dropping behind the one-stopping Nico Rosberg, Vettel looked as though he would miss out on a headline-grabbing debut result but found himself in luck when Rosberg retired late in the race.

"It was fantastic, a lot of fun but a longer race than I ever imagined it to be. I think I am quite lucky to get away with a point as the first corner was quite tight. I had an okay start, but not a very good one. When I saw the cars were close I decided to brake just a little bit later and then caught up quickly to those in front of me. To avoid an incident I decided to cut turn two and lost a lot of places.

"After that I was stuck in traffic which more or less destroyed our strategy. It is good to finish the first race and better still in the points. The car was working well. I could have been a bit quicker, but quite often I was stuck in traffic and it is extremely difficult to overtake here as the other guys are not sleeping and they know how to defend. In the end when I saw the chequered flag I was quite relieved. I am quite happy for me and the team who have done a fantastic job. I can only say thank you to all my mechanics and engineers who were supporting me."

Although it goes down as BMW's worst result of the season, Mario Theissen praised Vettel's performance, excluding the first corner, not least because the German came away with the sixth fastest lap of the race as well. Nonetheless, the managing director reiterated that Robert Kubica would definitely be back in the car for Magny-Cours.

"Without doubt this was not the result we had hoped for. Nick was doing well in the race but retired due to a hydraulic leak. I am happy for Sebastian and the team that he has scored a point for us in his maiden Grand Prix.

"In the first corner he had to learn a lesson the hard way and lost three places. But later he drove a solid race without any mistakes. Robert will have to pass another medical check prior to the next race in Magny-Cours. As soon he has the green light he will be sitting in the race car again."

 

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