After deciding to withdraw from Formula One last season, BMW chose to keep the tradition going as chief Mario Theissen sold his company's F1 interests back to Peter Sauber, whom the German had bought from just four years earlier. Everything on the team returned to the Swiss factory at Hinwil, near Zurich, in Switzerland.
Now, that the team is in firm hands, the group has worked hard to roll out their BMW Sauber C29, which was launched Sunday morning at the Riccardo Tormo race track near Valencia, Spain.
Although the car's name still retains the Munich, Germany logo on it, the new car has a Ferrari engine, which was the official engine supplier in the pre-BMW Sauber days.
A few things, though, have changed following last season's sixth-place finish in the world constructor's championship. In spite of the new high nose, the C29 looks much like last year's C28, but otherwise the team has seen much change in the off-season.
First, the staff has been downsized to a lower level. This reduction of staff gives Sauber the opportunity to demand critical thinking and an increased level of efficiency in race situations. The team has, in addition, two new drivers in veteran Spaniard Pedro De La Rosa, who has tested many years for McLaren Mercedes, and Kamui Kobayashi, who filled in last year for Timo Glock at Toyota and gave the now-defunct team a few championship points at the end of the season.
After all the years of testing, De La Rosa finally is glad that someone decided that it was time for him to enter a race car.
"At last I can feel like a proper driver again," remarked the Spaniard. "I have missed all the competition out on the track and though, I have learned things technically, I now want to bring all that knowledge to the team."
Kobayashi was less talkative, but expressed the feeling that he is ready to go for the season.
"I am very proud that Peter Sauber has shown so much faith in me and I am determined not to disappoint him," he said. "My aim is that he will end up being proud of me as well."
One of the main sponsors of the team in the past has been the fuel giant Petronas, which could be seen for many years on the cars. But this season, the Malaysian oil company's logo is on the Mercedes GP livery, while Sauber himself now has to look for additional backing.
"The last few months have been very intense for us." commented Sauber. "First, we had to battle for the survival of the team, and then we focused on putting a strong set-up in place for the future."
Sauber will act at trackside during races as the team principal, while the other work at the factory will be done by managing director Monischa Kaltenborn. One of the most popular team members since its founding is Willi Rampf, who will, for the tenth season, be technical director for a squad that could show good promise and fight for some podiums this season.