Theissen hopeful of Indy return for Kubica 13 Jun 2007
With Robert Kubica safely out of hospital and looking to returning to racing at this weekends United States Grand Prix, BMW motorsport director Mario Theissen seems just as keen to see Kubica back in the driving seat. Here Theissen discusses the Poles accident and sheds some light on what will happen to the remains of that battered and bruised F1.07
Q: What went through your mind on the pit wall on Sunday when you saw Robert Kubica's accident?
Mario Theissen: I was unable to judge the severity of the accident by the initial television pictures. Then seeing the first impact in the replay gave us all a huge shock. I was waiting on the pit wall watching the screens until the rescue work was completed and then went over to the Medical Center to see Robert. Having established that he had not suffered any serious injuries, I returned to the team to tell them the good news and followed the remainder of the race from the pit wall.
Q: Just over two days after the event, how proud are you of Nick Heidfeld's second place and the performance of the team?
MT: I'm really proud of this team. Nick certainly did not finish second by default. All the incidents in Sunday's race took place behind him. That second place was his on merit - he was simply faster than one of the McLarens and both Ferraris.
Q: Finishing on the podium on merit was the team's declared aim for this season. Is that something you can now cross off the list as job done?
MT: Our form is very much on an upward curve. Six races into the season we have collected two points more than in the whole of 2006. We achieved our aim for the season for the first time in Montreal in what was the best overall result so far for the team. But this should not be our only podium finish of the season.
Q: Robert Kubica made it clear on Monday that he wants to race in Indianapolis this weekend. What is your position?
MT: It's great that he feels ready to race and is not experiencing any after-effects from the accident. The chief medical officer will have the final say after Robert has been examined in Indianapolis on Thursday. We are prepared in case Robert will not be able to drive. But, of course, we are all hoping that he will line up in the car at the weekend. The ideal scenario for me would be for us all to put the accident behind us quickly with a good performance in the race.
Q: The Canadian Grand Prix sparked debate about the extent to which the life-saving safety technology in Formula One could be transferred to road vehicles. Is there something there to build on?
MT: The demands involved in series production are different from those in F1, as are the materials used. However, the aim is the same - to produce a durable passenger cell surrounded by crash elements which efficiently absorb impact energy. Everyday practicality, comfort and manufacturing costs all play a role in the production of road cars. In Formula One we do whatever is technically possible. The passenger cell and restraint systems are tailored to one person. In a series-produced vehicle, there are four, five or even more people on board. A road vehicle will generally be built from steel or aluminium, whereas an F1 monocoque is made of carbon fibre. While road vehicles have a crumple zone, the passenger cell of a formula racing car is surrounded by crash elements and designed to absorb the extreme forces generated by a collision. Formula One cars have to pass increasingly stringent FIA tests. And road vehicles also have to come through a large number of tests before they can go into production.
Q: What will happen now with the wreckage of Kubica's F1.07?
MT: The chassis will be examined in Hinwil and we will try to understand as much as possible about the accident. We will also study the damage in detail to establish if there are deeper cracks in the material. It is almost impossible to simulate the type of heavy impact we saw in Canada. However, the damage profile gives us information we can use to further refine our calculations and further improve monocoque construction in the future. At any rate, the damage to the F1.07-07 chassis is so severe that it will not be used again on the track. If it can be repaired at all we will use it on the test rig. If it is totally beyond repair, it will be scrapped.
Q: And how will Robert Kubica get a new car for Indianapolis?
MT: In addition to the T-car, we also had another spare chassis in Montreal. This F1.07-03 chassis will now become the second race chassis. We began work on the car in Canada on Sunday and it will be completed in Indianapolis.