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A good weekend for BMW Sauber 11 Jun 2006

Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1.06.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, British Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Silverstone, England, 10 June 2006

The British Grand Prix saw another lock-out by the top three teams of the first six positions at the flag. But behind them, BMW Sauber will have been heartened by a very solid performance, one in which the team conspicuously out-performed the rest of the mid-field, with drivers Nick Heidfeld and Jacques Villeneuve finishing with a strong drive to seventh and eighth places respectively.

It was the team’s best race performance of the season so far, their speed obvious from the second Friday practice session, when test driver Robert Kubica put in the fastest time with a storming 1:21.082. Nick Heidfeld was second only to Michael Schumacher during Saturday practice, giving the team high hopes for a strong result in the race. Qualifying was relatively disappointing, both drivers making the cut to the final 10 but then ending up in ninth (Heidfeld) and 10th (Villeneuve) on the grid.

When the red lights went out, Heidfeld got off to a storming start, blasting his way past Montoya, Ralf Schumacher and Barrichello to finish the first lap in sixth place. And by staying out as most of the cars above him came in for their first stops he briefly climbed as high as second place, before emerging from his own first stop in seventh.

Villeneuve had a less eventful race, running between Rosberg and Coulthard in tenth during his opening stint and emerging from his own first visit to the pits in ninth. During the second half of the race it became clear that Renault, Ferrari and McLaren were going to take the top six places, with the rest of the pack battling to take the final two point scoring positions.

A long second stop effectively blew Heidfeld’s chances of leapfrogging Montoya, although he finished the race just 6.8 seconds adrift of the Colombian. Villeneuve managed to emerge from his final pitstop ahead of Rosberg and held the young German off to the flag - despite a determined attack from the Williams driver, taking the final Championship point for BMW Sauber.

The result helps to strengthen BMW Sauber’s fifth place position in the constructors’ championship - with the team now leading arch-rivals Williams by seven points. In the drivers’ championship, Heidfeld is now in ninth place with 10 points, while Villeneuve’s single point moves him ahead of Mark Webber and into 12th place with 7 points.