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GP Week : Issue 55
Renault :: 7th place, 13 points Speaking to Pat Symonds before the season began, there was a very real feeling at Renault that the R29 stood a great shot at fighting for the World Championship. It was a race winner, and it could take the fight to anyone. The season so far has therefore been one long disappointment for Renault, who has managed to turn out a pretty terrible car in comparison to their rivals. The R29 looks almost as bad as it drives, and even the mighty Fernando Alonso is struggling to look even semi competitive in it. That said, with five points finishes it isn’t all doom and gloom. Another major step forward in Germany saw the Spaniard take the fastest race lap and has the team believing it can challenge for podiums in the latter half of 2009. Alonso has perhaps never had a tougher season. His car is off the pace, and even a major development push as the one he oversaw last season might not be enough to turn the car into a podium finisher or race winner. He knows this, and yet he is pushing harder than ever. All of this comes at a time when his team-mate is underperforming like never before. Alonso has the whole team on his shoulders, and is carrying it as best he can. A move to Ferrari next season may get him out of the mess he now finds himself stuck in. Nelson Piquet has been a huge let down this year. With a year of F1 experience under his belt, everyone expected him to step up to the challenge of at least competing with his team-mate Alonso. But it simply hasn’t happened. To the outside world he’s looked off the pace and out of his depth. A look closer, however, shows he’s often not had the advantage that his team-mate has of the most up-to- date upgrades. But the team is thought to be growing tired of his attitude and he is expected to be replaced by tester Romain Grosjean in Hungary. BMW Sauber :: 8th place, 8 points Oh dear, oh dear. From third best in 2008 to third worst in 2009, BMW has experienced perhaps the most marked turn around in competitiveness and performance of any team this season. BMW concentrated so much of its efforts on its KERS, that it missed the boat on the double diffusers, becoming one of the very last teams to implement their own version. And with the team now dropping KERS, its season looks to be getting worse by the weekend. The podium in Malaysia may well be the high point of what could be a very tough season. Robert Kubica has struggled all season. Unable to run KERS due to his weight, he’s been at a disadvantage to his team-mate from the outset. With two retirements and just one points finish, he’s got to be hoping for more from the second half of the year. Nick Heidfeld’s podium in Malaysia was a surprise and may yet be the highlight of BMW’s season. He’s failed to score in the last four races and now has the added pressure of the rumour that Rosberg will replace him in 2010 to contend with.