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Exclusive interview - BMW Sauber’s Mario Theissen 09 Jun 2008

Dr Mario Theissen (GER) BMW Sauber F1 Team Principal on the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Canadian Grand Prix, Race, Montreal, Canada, Sunday, 8 June 2008 Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1.08 celebrates his first win in parc ferme with Dr Mario Theissen (GER) BMW Sauber F1 Team Principal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Canadian Grand Prix, Race, Montreal, Canada, Sunday, 8 June 2008 Dr Mario Theissen (GER) BMW Sauber F1 Team Principal celebrates on the podium with race winner Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1 and team mate Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Canadian Grand Prix, Race, Montreal, Canada, Sunday, 8 June 2008 Dr Mario Theissen (GER) BMW Sauber F1 Team Principal and Willi Rampf (SUI) BMW Sauber Technical Director celebrate victory for Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1 and their first GP win.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Canadian Grand Prix, Race, Montreal, Canada, Sunday, 8 June 2008

It was a weekend of contrasts for Poland and Germany. In Montreal, a Pole won his first Grand Prix in a German car, just as Poland were losing to Germany in the European football championships. However, none of that mattered to BMW Sauber boss Mario Theissen, whose team scored their first win courtesy of Robert Kubica in Canada. And with Nick Heidfeld making it an historic one-two, Theissen was at once wet from champagne, overwhelmed by the result, and full of praise for his drivers…

Q: The team has finally done it. Are you surprised that it happened this early in the season?
Mario Theissen:
We promised ourselves a win this season. We knew since the last couple of races that we were getting closer to the top, and today everything fell into place, because winning is not only about having the fastest car on the grid, it’s also about channelling the team’s potential in the right direction - in qualifying and the race.

Q: What a difference a year makes: last season Robert’s Montreal crash had everybody holding their breath - now he is giving BMW Sauber their maiden win…
MT:
Robert has put in a very strong performance ever since Melbourne and it was clear that he was about to win a race. Probably it was a poetic judgment that it happened here.

Q: At what point of the race did you realize that it could be your day?
MT:
Between Lap 45 and 50 when Robert had done his second pit stop. After that it became clear to me that we would at least have a good chance to win, even with a safety car phase.

Q: Robert and Nick used different strategies: Robert two stops and Nick one. Was that your intention from the start?
MT:
It was not originally planned to have Nick on a one-stop strategy. We took that decision after the safety car phase. And it paid off perfectly.

Q: After Nick’s stop it became obvious that your drivers would only be fighting each other. Did you leave it up to the drivers, or did you tell Nick to let Robert by?
MT:
We did not have to tell him to let Robert by because his tank was really full in order to make it to the end of the race, so he had to brake very early and there was no point in him fighting Robert.

Q: Robert won the race, but Nick also put in a very strong drive. How would you judge his performance?
MT:
Yes, Nick delivered a great performance. In his first stint he was really fast and he managed to stay out the longest of all cars on soft tyres. We had concerns that these tyres would not make it so long.

Q: Is your mission now accomplished for this season? Or does the target move after that triumph?
MT:
It’s certainly mission accomplished. Everything that follows now is a bonus.

Q: How will this victory change the team?
MT:
Nothing will change within the team. We will go to Magny-Cours and try to repeat it. If it works, who can say, as it always also depends on our competitors. Today they did not do too well when it comes to points. I still see it as a tight race between Ferrari, McLaren and ourselves, and it is hard to say who’s got the advantage. We always said that we wanted to win a race this year, but for our first win to also be a one-two was something that none of us would have anticipated.

Q: Robert is leading the driver standings and you are just three off Ferrari in the constructors’ (and 17 ahead of McLaren). Doesn’t that make you both championship contenders?
MT:
We will see. We look at every single race individually. Now we focus on Magny-Cours to see what we can do there.

Q: Spraying champagne is not how you normally end your Sunday afternoon. How did it feel?
MT:
I can imagine worse things!