BMW Sauber F1 Team driver Nick Heidfeld was able to complete the normal Friday programme with tyre evaluation and set-up work on the spectacular new YAS Marina Circuit. However, his team mate Robert Kubica didn’t have the opportunity to drive in the dark under floodlights as, due to an engine failure, he retired just before sunset in the second free practice session.
Despite the engine failures earlier this season, the team decided not to go for a ninth power unit to avoid the consequent grid penalty. As a result Kubica had to run on the season’s last Friday an engine with a mileage way over 2000 kilometres. The team were aware of the risk.
At noon the BMW Sauber F1 Team lined up for its farewell team picture with the pit board message “Thank you & Goodbye“. Kubica is driving in Abu Dhabi with a special helmet which carries the message “Many Thanks to BMW Sauber F1 Team.”
BMW Sauber F1.09-07 / BMW P86/9
1st Free Practice: 5th, 1:44.667 min / 2nd Free Practice: 13th, 1:42.278 min
“The track offers everything you can ask for. The tarmac is good and the lay-out is quite good with the first sector having the fast corners, the second sector providing this endless straight and a possibility for overtaking, and the third one being rather narrow and windy, but flowing nicely.
"I’m not happy with the car’s set-up and balance yet. This is especially for a single quick lap as on the long runs the lap times were improving. The visibility during sunset and twilight wasn’t an issue today. I hope this doesn’t change if we get more dust in the air. In respect of the total darkness and floodlighting, I have the feeling it was brighter in Singapore.”
BMW Sauber F1.09-08 / BMW P86/9
1st Free Practice: 11th, 1:44.988 min / 2nd Free Practice: 20th, 1:43.708 min
“The track is quite interesting, although there are not a lot of high speed corners and most are quite short. The final sector of the track reminds me of Singapore.
"We were just starting to work on the set-up and the tyre evaluation in the second free practice session when I had an engine failure. Now the track conditions are improving with each lap, this is a big loss and I lost nearly one hour of valuable track time.”
Willy Rampf, Head of Engineering: “At the beginning of the first free practice we realized we had been quite accurate with what we expected from the track based on our simulations. However, it’s not easy to assess our own performance after day one. We have worked on race preparation, as usual. Obviously, the engine failure on Robert’s car cost us time working on the set-up. However, I believe we have enough data available to draw the right conclusions for the remainder of the weekend.”