Rampf plays down talk of BMW title charge
BMW Sauber technical director Willy Rampf says it is too early to talk of a world championship challenge despite the Swiss-German team earning their maiden grand prix victory in Canada at the weekend. Robert Kubica led his German teammate Nick Heidfeld to BMW 1-2 in Montreal and the talented Pole now tops the driver's championship - four points ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari's Felipe Massa.
Kubica now has a good chance to extend his lead in France later this month where Hamilton's McLaren will be hit by a ten grid place penalty as a result of his race ending accident in Montreal. However, Rampf, who has spent most of his career with Sauber, refused to get carried away with the excitement of the first win and insisted that the team would not be getting ahead of themselves.
"I think it is too early to say," said Rampf. "We are very proud of what we achieved up to now with this first victory, and the position one and two is even better. It is what you dream of. To think about the world championship is nice, but much too early." Kubica's victory was partly a result of Hamilton taking himself and world champion Kimi Raikkonen out of contention in a pit lane accident, a fact not lost on BMW Sauber.
"I think it is still the same," Rampf added, referring to the F1 pecking order. "From the beginning of the season there were three very strong teams. Ferrari and McLaren were still equal or slightly ahead of us, and that is still the case. I think the picture has not really changed. We have to be realistic. Normally they are slightly better than us, we benefited from the incident at the end of the pitlane but that is part of the game. If you want to win, everything has to be perfect and that is what happened to us. Some other teams were not so lucky."
Sunday's win was an especially sweet moment for BMW Motorsport boss Dr Mario Theissen - the German has directed the project since BMW bought Sauber at the end of 2005. The team has progressed steadily over the 42 races in that period, firmly establishing themselves as the third strongest team and Theissen admitted that, through Kubica, they have already achieved their target for this season.
"It is fantastic, I am overwhelmed," Theissen said. "It is difficult to find the right words. We hoped for another podium in Montreal, but would not have dreamed to get a one-two victory. It is certainly mission accomplished. Everything that comes now is on top."
BMW's rise to prominence has certainly not gone unnoticed in the paddock. With the Swiss-German team just three points behind his Ferrari outfit in the constructor's title race, reigning world champion Raikkonen acknowledged that they must be recognised as a serious threat. "They are scoring points all the time," Raikkonen said. "Nobody can count them out. Kubica is five points ahead of Lewis and Massa and seven ahead of me. We have seen that they've been fast all year, more or less there all the time. Now they finish one and two, when things go wrong with the guys at the front. It gives them a nice lead." Yahoo!xtra