BMW Sauber F1.06

On 12th March 2006 in Bahrain, the BMW Sauber F1 Team will launch its first season with the BMW Sauber F1.06, driven by Nick Heidfeld and Jacques Villeneuve.

As Professor Burkhard Göschel, BMW Board Member for Development and Purchasing, points out: “This project represents a strong, long-term commitment to Formula One on BMW’s part. For the BMW Group, Formula One acts as a high-tech laboratory and technology accelerator. This synergistic effect has already had a very positive impact in our six years as an engine partner. But you can’t win races with an engine alone, which is why we wanted to be involved in all the success factors. In keeping with that, we have now taken on overall responsibility. Formula One seems tailor-made for BMW’s brand values, and there’s no other sporting event that generates so much attention on such a regular basis worldwide. In 2006 we will primarily be building up experience. In 2005 Sauber came eighth in the Constructors’ World Championship. That is our starting point, and I can see plenty of upside potential.”

“To set up a new team is a huge challenge”, says Professor Mario Theissen, who as BMW Motorsport Director oversees all of BMW’s racing involvements.  “Our concept includes boosting staff numbers, expanding the facility in Hinwil, an intensive development programme and the networking of all activities in Munich and Hinwil. The division of labour is as follows: Munich is in charge of the powertrain and electronics, Hinwil is responsible for the chassis and race deployment. We will be recruiting more than 100 new staff in Switzerland.

The key priorities will be to convert the wind tunnel from single to three-shift operation as well as setting up an autonomous test team. The Hinwil wind tunnel is outstandingly good. Overall, the factory is good but not yet big enough. The extension plans, which include new offices as well as development and production facilities, have been drawn up and we expect planning permission to come through in spring of 2006. All measures will be fully implemented by the end of 2007. The 2006 season will be a year of development. That also applies to the technical package, whose concept was already largely established in Munich and Hinwil before the takeover. In 2006 we aim to grow together and maximise our potential.”

After 13 years as a team principal in Formula One, Peter Sauber has stepped back from the operational side of the business. Now 62, he will act as advisor to the new team. “I was delighted that Sauber is to remain part of the team name. I shall be keeping a close eye on the progress of the
BMW Sauber F1 Team. I’m especially pleased for the staff in Hinwil, who will now have the opportunity to demonstrate their skills with the support of their colleagues from BMW.”

Two adoptive Swiss in the cockpit.

They’ve long known each other, they’ve both raced for Sauber before, they both live in Switzerland – but they’ve never before been team-mates. Drivers Nick Heidfeld and Jacques Villeneuve can look back on a combined tally of 250 grands prix.

Heidfeld (28) made his Formula One debut at the start of the 2000 season and competed for the Swiss racing team from 2001 to 2003. His best results so far are the two second places he claimed for the BMW WilliamsF1 Team in the 2005 season. He also took a pole position in the same year. The man from Mönchengladbach, whose daughter – and first child – was born in July 2005, has 98 race starts under his belt.

“I’m really looking forward to the new season and the new team, many of whom I already know from years past”, says Heidfeld. “Besides, I can get to Hinwil in 15 minutes by car, which is a real advantage. It’s natural for a racing driver to be impatient when it comes to achieving success, but we need to be realistic. For me the most important thing is that we’re moving in the right direction. We have to work hard and make steady progress.”

No other driver in Formula One has risen to World Champion status as rapidly as Jacques Villeneuve. In 1996, his debut year, the Canadian already finished as runner-up behind his then Williams-Renault team-mate Damon Hill. Then in 1997 he beat Michael Schumacher to the title for Williams-Renault.
In 152 grands prix he has taken eleven victories and claimed pole 13 times.

After five years with the BAR team, it seemed his F1 career was over in 2003. But then he was given the chance to compete in the final three races of season 2004 for Renault. In 2005, the son of the famous Ferrari driver Gilles Villeneuve was signed up by Sauber.

“Building up a new team is a very complex task”, says Villeneuve looking ahead to 2006. “I’ve already been through it in the past. But I think we’ve got a number of good prerequisites coming together here. I’ll be doing my very best to help the BMW Sauber F1 Team achieve success.”

New regulations.

The most radical technical changes for 2006 affect the engines: Formula One is switching from three-litre V10 engines to V8 units with 2.4 litres’ displacement. The rules governing the new engines are far more tightly regulated and the scope for engineers has shrunk. The switch to the more compact V8 powerplants also brings with it noticeable modifications to the chassis. Among other changes, the cars will feature pared-down sidepods as the radiators can now be designed smaller than before.

Racing fans can again look forward to the spectacle of tyre changing in the pits, which has the go-ahead again as of 2006. The qualifying format is also new: for the 2006 World Championship, grid positions will be determined in a shootout. From 14.00 to 15.00 hrs on Saturday, the fast laps will be driven in three time sections, with the slowest drivers in the first two 15-minute periods taking no further part in qualifying, leaving the remaining drivers to compete for the best starting positions in the final session.

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