Mid-season review: BMW Sauber
A torturous winter of uncertainty is never the perfect recipe for success, and now with the F1 season nearing an end with just seven races remaining, BMW Sauber is only beginning to return to consistent points-scoring races after a first half-season dogged by poor reliability and a hopelessly slow car. After finishing just twice in the first six races, failing to score a point in the process, top-ten grid and finishing positions are becoming a thing of habit for the Swiss team.
Following BMW's withdrawal from the sport at the end of last season, the future of the team remained up in the air, as the German marque had refused to sign the Concorde Agreement, meaning it no longer had a right to a place on the grid. Further complicating matters was the failed takeover bid by the mysterious Qadbak investment organisation, but the withdrawal of Toyota at season's end eventually gave the team the security it had desired, with previous team owner Peter Sauber taking over at the helm once again.
Described by the team boss as an unwanted departing present from BMW and technical director Willy Rampf, the C29 was unreliable and slow, with technical failures resulting in most of their 10 retirements from the first six races. Their first double race finish in Turkey came with their first point. More followed in Valencia and Silverstone, largely thanks to safety car periods, but a double points finish in Hungary recently was achieved fully on merit, with seventh for de la Rosa and nine for Kobayashi.
With little sponsorship and this year's season being paid for by BMW, the future hangs in the balance once again at Hinwil. While the team ensures us money is on the way for 2011, everyone will remain sceptical until evidence of said cash is produced. In the shorter term though, Sauber's ever-improving performance is a well-needed note of optimism and positivity.