Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica have been told they are now likely to face an engine change penalty in the closing stages of the season, after their BMW Sauber team discovered their broken power-units from Monza cannot be used again.
The German and Pole were forced out of qualifying at the Italian Grand Prix when their engines stopped – but the teams had hoped the problems could be easily repaired, allowing the units to be brought back into action. However, analysis at BMW's Munich base has found out the issues are terminal – leaving the two drivers with just one new engine for the remainder of the season.
BMW motorsport director Mario Theissen said: "The cause of our engine problems in qualifying at Monza was a quality issue with the valve gear, and this means we can't use either of the engines again. Both drivers ran their engines from Spa in Sunday's race at Monza, which leaves them with one more new engine each and several used ones for the remainder of the season.
"The key question will now be whether these will be enough. If not, we will be forced to use a ninth engine and take a ten-place grid penalty as a result."
Despite the bad news on the engine front, BMW Sauber has high hopes of a strong performance in next week's Singapore race thanks to a major car update. The F1.09 will feature a new front wing, more deeply undercut sidepods, another iteration of the double diffuser and a modified rear wing. The team will also introduce a totally new gearbox.
Theissen said: "We are looking forward to the whole show and are aiming to go on the attack with our significantly revised car."
Heidfeld added: "I've been looking forward to the race in Singapore for many weeks because I know we have some modifications ready for the weekend. Our simulation work has been very promising and the car will look great."