All Hail Heidfeld!
By: Jeremy McMullen
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By: Jeremy McMullen
| While all eyes have been on the renewed battle between Ferrari and McLaren-Mercedes, there is another team quietly pushing ever closer toward achieving victory. At Australia, a white and blue car snagged the fourth spot without attracting too much attention. At the Malaysian grand prix there appeared the same white and blue car crossing the line in front of the second Ferrari of Massa with its driver waving his hands frantically. No, the driver of the white and blue car was not lapped traffic motioning a 'Well done' to Massa. The car in question actually came home ahead of the Ferrari for fourth place. Then, in Bahrain, the same car again came home in fourth but this time ahead of world champion Alonso in his McLaren-Mercedes. Behind all the hoop-lah of Ferrari and McLaren-Mercedes, behind all the excitement due to Alonso, Hamilton, Massa, and Raikkonen, there is another sneaking up to snatch victory away. Behold, Nick Heidfeld and BMW-Sauber.
BMW-Sauber, while in their first year as partners, finished fifth in the world championship last year. Going into this year there was much anticipation, but also, reasonable apprehension. The team believed they would be able to challenge for high scoring positions. The goal at the beginning of the year was to finish third in the constructor's championship. But it's safe to say the bar needs to be raised even higher. After the re-emergence of McLaren-Mercedes' pace and Ferrari's continual running up front many people throughout the paddock believed the first four places were a virtual lock. However, Heidfeld has proven that theory to be wrong, as well as, proven BMW-Sauber to be better than many anticipated. Some are so surprised that the team's sportsmanship has come into question.
After the first race in Australia, it was believed BMW-Sauber ran a light fuel load in an effort to get up front and virtually hold off potentially quicker cars to enable the team and Heidfeld to come home with a fourth place result. However, after three straight fourth place finishes, and stints between pit stops longer than those of Ferrari and McLaren-Mercedes, BMW-Sauber has proven their pace to be a reality.
Heidfeld came home in a rather quiet fourth place at the Australian Grand Prix only because of the sheer dominance of Kimi Raikonnen and his Ferrari. After the fourth place at the Malaysian grand prix eyes have come to be more focused on BMW-Sauber. People throughout the paddock have come to wonder how good the team really is. Some of the questions leveled against BMW-Sauber's speed and sportsmanship are no doubt due to Nick's apparent fall from grace throughout F1. The once touted future star has seemed to fizzle in many eyes. But now, after another impressive fourth place in Bahrain, which saw Heidfeld hold off the double world champion Alonso, people have now come to wonder, 'How good could the team become?'