Ex-F1 driver Nick Heidfeld has hinted at some discontent with former team-mate Robert Kubica behind the scenes during their time together at the BMW Sauber, saying the Pole was convinced he wasn’t favoured as strongly in the German team.

The pair partnered one another in the BMW-backed Swiss team for three full seasons between 2007 and 2009, notching up 15 podiums between themselves in that time.

Of the two drivers, Kubica was the only one to top the podium at the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix, but it was Heidfeld that finished higher in the standings in 2007 and 2009.

More than a decade on, Heidfeld told F1’s Beyond The Grid podcast that Kubica appeared certain BMW had a preference for its German driver and made his feelings known in the press. He says it wasn’t ‘really helpful’, as well as being ‘untrue’.

“If I think about what I didn’t like about him, or maybe what was also for himself not something really helpful, is that he most of the time thought that the team was benefiting me over him because it was a German team, BMW, and I was a German driver.

“I didn’t like it because he put that out in the press quite often and I think it was simply not true. He was always saying the team preferred me over him... that was not true.

“I don’t remember if I told him, I might have, but it was not so important, even now, I don’t think he would’ve changed [his behaviour].”

Despite the friction, Heidfeld says he respected Kubica’s abilities behind the wheel, calling him the most complete driver he’s ever raced alongside.

“He was the team-mate I had longest in Formula 1, for nearly three seasons, and I would say he was the most complete of all the team-mates I had.

“He was not as quick as Kimi [Raikkonen] was in [terms of race pace] and not as quick as [Mark] Webber was in qualifying, obviously that was my personal view, but overall, as a complete package, he was really up there.”

Kubica made his debut with BMW Sauber part-way through the 2006 F1 season in place of the out-of-favour Jacques Villeneuve, famously scoring a podium in only his third outing at Monza.

Kubica switched to Renault for 2010 on the back of BMW’s exit from F1, scoring three more podiums, before a serious rallying accident during the off-season put a hold on his F1 career just as he was being primed for a move to Ferrari for 2012.

He sensationally returned to F1 in 2019 with the Williams team but struggled to match the pace of his rookie team-mate George Russell, even if he was the only one of the two to score a point. He was signed up as an Alfa Romeo (formerly Sauber) development driver for 2020.

 

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