BMW are currently enjoying a good time in Formula One. Having purchased the moderately successful Sauber team in late 2005, the German marque has steadily progressed through 2006 and has taken some big leaps in performance over the winter and into 2007. Nick Heidfeld has come out of his shell a little, and Robert Kubica drove startlingly well when he took over from 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve part way through last year. And the icing on the cake? BMW have a strong future, summed up by their young but mature and very fast test driver, Sebastian Vettel. The future, you could say, is bright.
There is a ‘but’ though…
Vettel drives with a Red Bull design on his helmet. This is because Sebastian is actually legally bound to the energy drinks giant, and is merely on loan to BMW for four years. Red Bull have done what so many others do, and loaned one of their inexperienced drivers to another team in order for them to gain some mileage behind the wheel of a Formula One car at the expense of someone else. And while Vettel is the apple of BMW boss Mario Thiessen’s eye, billionaire ‘Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz has other plans for the young German driver.
We have parked him for four years with BMW. We say he is our driver, BMW say he is theirs. There are contracts, and if we do the right things, he will be with us in 2009. Dietrich Mateschitz.
If Sebastian can weasel his way out of the Red Bull contract, it surely would be better for the German to remain with BMW. Currently, their car is performing better, and Mateschitz is also eying up Robert Kubica. Vettel really wants to be trying to get rid of Kubica so he can take over his seat in the second car. Of course, their is no reason why Red Bull cannot improve in the next couple of years thus making the decision even harder. Vettel is only 19 still, and like all young up-and-coming drivers, he has the world at his feet. It must be a wonderful feeling to know you are in demand, and I for one hope the two parties don’t end up battling this one out in the courts. Time will tell on this, but one thing is for sure: Vettel is already making heads turn in Formula One.