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GP Week : Issue 27
Short Straights BMW to stick wit Vettel still under option, despite Red Bull deal n McLaren celebrated the 40th anniversary of its first Formula 1 victory at the weekend. Bruce McLaren (above) took his eponymous team’s first grand prix win at Spa-Franchorchamps in 1968 at the wheel of the beautiful M7A. n Spa-Francorchamps has unveiled a memorial to former racer and journalist Paul Frere, who died earlier this year, at the Belgian Grand Prix. Frere was also remembered with the renaming of the corner after Stavelot as “Courbe Paul Frere.” n Eddie Jordan was in Spa-Francorchamps, celebrating the 10th anniversary of his team’s first F1 victory in the wet Belgian race of 1998. EJ and his band, ‘The Robbers’played a special concert to mark the anniversary on Saturday evening. n CORRECTION: GPWeek’s report of the Valencia GP2 race (Issue #25) contained two inaccuracies. Race 1 distance is 180km, not 175km, and the cars were permitted to refuel in the pit-lane (under existing GP2 regulations) after their warm-up laps, not on the grid. NICK Heidfeld’s strong drive to third place in the Belgian Grand Prix, his best drive of the year according to BMW Director of Motorsport Mario Thiessen, is understood to have gone some way towards strengthening his chances of an extended contract with the team. Despite Thiessen admitting in Belgium that the team was delaying its decision over its 2009 line-up, BMW is still thought likely to confirm that it will maintain its current drivers for what the team will be hoping to be a championship- challenging campaign in 2009. But with Robert Kubica thought to have agreed only to a one year extension of his contract owing to his much rumoured move to Ferrari alongside Fernando Alonso in 2010, BMW finds itself in a quandary. With new technical regulations coming into effect in 2009, all teams will be aiming for stability between 2009 and 2010 and the loss of Kubica, the team’s clear #1 driver, will hit BMW hard. The seemingly logical thing for the team to do would be to drop Heidfeld, who few seriously consider to be lead driver material, and bring in a new face to race alongside Kubica in 2009, moulding the new boy into an integral part of the team by 2010. There are, however, few viable options for BMW on the driver market and Heidfeld may get the nod by merit of being a safe pair of hands. Heidfeld seemed certain that his immediate future lay with BMW, when questioned by journalists in Belgium. “I am pretty confident - that is as much as I can say. I have been with the team for a while now, we have reached all the targets that the team gave out a few years ago and I think that is very impressive. The target for next year is to fight for the world championship, and I want to do that.” Thiessen meanwhile admitted after the Grand Prix that Heidfeld’s performance and individual choice to switch onto wet tyres, had done his chances of a 2009 seat no harm at all. “Certainly it has been a strong weekend from Nick, maybe the strongest this year. In the end it was sort of a relief to get the positions back in the final lap. It tells you something about racecraft and about racing experience to judge a situation like this within a few seconds.