In what has been a busy few days in mid-January, BMW Sauber was the fourth team to launch its 2007 car, the F1.07 breaking cover at the Feria de Valencia exhibition centre on January 16th. Race drivers Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica were on hand...
In what has been a busy few days in mid-January, BMW Sauber was the fourth team to launch its 2007 car, the F1.07 breaking cover at the Feria de Valencia exhibition centre on January 16th. Race drivers Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica were on hand to unveil the new car, which displayed the familiar blue and white livery, along with test and reserve driver Sebastian Vettel and second tester Timo Glock.
The F1.07 is the first car completely produced by BMW Sauber -- the 2006 chassis was already under design when BMW took over -- with the base in Hinwil, Switzerland overseeing the chassis and their counterparts in Munich, Germany, handling the powertrain and the electronics.
There is a new nose and front wing development, new suspension elements, larger cooling intakes and the rear of the car is slimmer and lower, due to the compact gearbox. This year's engine is designated the P86/7 and there is a now a control unit (Race Car Controller, or RCC) for the engine, transmission and chassis.
"On the one hand we channelled our experience from the F1.06 into the car, but at the same time we considered the new challenges presented by the 2007 regulations," said technical director Willy Rampf in regard to the F1.07. "In the first season we created a solid basis. The cooperation between the team members in Munich and Hinwil is now running very smoothly, and the added resources are also helping. Our aim is now to further reduce the gap to the top teams."
The change to standard tyres with less grip has played its part when considering the design of the car. "It is obvious that the cars are going to slide around more, and so it was important for us to build a car that is easy to drive and that our drivers can trust sufficiently to go on the attack," Rampf explained. "We should also expect the cars generally to run with slightly more downforce in order to compensate for the loss of grip."
As for the drivers, Heidfeld hopes for more progress but is realistic about his expectations. "After our good maiden season we now have to continue along our set path," he said. "But one can't expect too much, because the higher you go, the more rarefied the atmosphere. In our first year we collected 36 points and came fifth in the world championship. But the fourth-placed team had 86 points. That's worlds apart."
Robert Kubica stepped into the breach when BMW and Jacques Villeneuve parted company mid-2006 and the young Pole is eager for his first full season. "I learnt a lot in 2006 and I want to put it into practice in 2007 and learn more," he commented. "To stand on the podium for the first time after a Formula One race was an incredible experience. I want more of it."
BMW motosport director Mario Theissen acknowledged that the team's achievements in 2006 -- two third places, one each from Heidfeld and Kubica -- were more than anticipated, which can bring problems of its own. "In 2006 we exceeded our own targets," he explained. "Now expectations are rising faster than the team can develop. That's the punishment for excelling yourself."
"2007 marks the second and final year of our development phase. Our aim is to make it onto the podium on our own merit. If the leading teams show any sign of weakness, we want to be ready to breach the gap. Victories on our own merit are not yet a realistic prospect for 2007. We are aiming for that in 2008. In 2009 we want to be in contention for the World Championship title."
F1.07 technical specifications
Chassis: carbon-fibre monocoque
Suspension: upper and lower wishbones (front and rear), inboard springs and dampers, actuated by pushrods (Sachs Race Engineering)
Brakes: six-piston callipers (Brembo), carbon pads and discs (Brembo, Carbone Industrie)
Transmission: 7-speed quick shift gearbox, longitudinally mounted, carbon-fibre clutch (AP)
Chassis electronics: BMW
Steering wheel: BMW Sauber F1 Team
Tyres: Bridgestone Potenza
Length: 4,580 mm
Width: 1,800 mm
Height: 1,000 mm
Track width, front: 1,470 mm
Track width, rear: 1,410 mm
Wheelbase: 3,110 mm
Weight: 605 kg (incl. driver, ready to drive, tank empty)
BMW P86/7 engine
Type: normally aspirated V8
Bank angle: 90 degrees
Displacement: 2,400 cc
Valves: four per cylinder
Valve train: pneumatic
Engine block: aluminium
Cylinder head: aluminium
Oil system: dry sump lubrication
Engine management: BMW
Spark plugs: NGK
Connecting rods: titanium
Dimensions: length: 518 mm
width: 555 mm
height: 595 mm (overall)
Weight: 95 kg