French GP: BMW Sauber preview

The BMW Sauber F1 Team is getting up to speed. Recent grands prix have clearly shown it to be on the ascendant, despite the fact neither BMW Sauber F1.06 made it to the finish in Indianapolis. At the French Grand Prix the team is determined to get...

The BMW Sauber F1 Team is getting up to speed. Recent grands prix have clearly shown it to be on the ascendant, despite the fact neither BMW Sauber F1.06 made it to the finish in Indianapolis. At the French Grand Prix the team is determined to get into the top ten qualifying once again and pick up some more championship points on the Circuit de Nevers in Magny-Cours on 16th July.

After its return from the USA, the team spent three days testing at Jerez in Spain. Busy on the track next to test and reserve driver, Robert Kubica, were Jacques Villeneuve and Sebastian Vettel, who has just turned 19. After his car’s barrel rolls in Indianapolis, Nick Heidfeld was giving his neck muscles a chance to recover.

Nick Heidfeld:

“I always enjoy racing in Magny-Cours. A lot of people aren’t so keen on the circuit, particularly as it’s way out in the French provinces. It’s a beautiful area, but unfortunately there’s no time to enjoy the scenery. There are lots of little chateaux with rooms to rent. I always stay at one of them, in a very idyllic location and surrounded by a proper moat. It has a very special charm of its own."

"On the sporting side too, I have fond memories of Magny-Cours, where I have won Formula 3 and Formula 3000 races. It’s quite a challenging circuit, especially the two chicanes. They’re obscured from view and very narrow at the apex. Basically the track offers everything: a high-speed section, but slow turns as well.”

Jacques Villeneuve:

“Last year’s French Grand Prix was one of our best races and the car is running very strongly at the moment, so I am looking forward to it as we should have a good weekend. It is a fun track to drive and there is usually some good racing on.”

Robert Kubica:

“I know Magny-Cours pretty well. It is a nice track. Last time I was there was in 2004 with Formula 3 but I have not tested there with F1. The first and second corners are really long. Later on there’s a quick chicane, which I am looking forward to taking in a Formula One car."

"It is quite a tricky track, but I think it could work well for me as I really enjoyed it in Formula 3. We will be back in Europe and, as usual, I am looking forward to doing my job there for the team on Friday to get some god data for Jacques and Nick."

Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director:

“Coming away from Indianapolis without any points was gutting. But despite that we are encouraged by the fact that in qualifying we made it into the third row of the grid for the first time, and also had the pace in the race itself. We want to build on that in Magny-Cours. The goal once again is to get both cars into the top ten qualifying and to collect points in the race."

"As Jacques will be getting a new engine after the engine failure at Indianapolis, and Nick is scheduled to get a new BMW P86 anyhow, both cars are now in the same cycle. At the Circuit de Nevers, the full-throttle ratio, top speed and length of the straights are all in the medium range. We have experienced quite a few hot races there. High thermal loads naturally make huge demands on the reliability of the engines."

"From a commercial point of view, Magny-Cours is at the opposite end of the scale to Monte Carlo. This is a rural idyll that isn’t easy to get to and ranks low in the glamour stakes. It’s a place where you focus on the sport and the challenges of the race track. It was here in 2001 that we secured our first pole position after our return to Formula One.”

Willy Rampf, Technical Director Chassis:

“Magny-Cours serves up an interesting mix of slow and fast turns. The Adelaide hairpin sees the drivers drop down from 300 km/h to 60 km/h, and the right-left combination before the start/finish line is also slow. These corners place great demands on the traction, in contrast to the fast esses in the middle section of the circuit."

"The slow sections in particular take their toll on the rear tyres, making tyre wear a pivotal issue when it comes to choosing the best pit stop strategy. It’s a real toss-up between two- and three-stoppers. Magny-Cours has the smoothest surface of any F1 track, and that has to be taken into account when dealing with the cars’ set-up."

"On the other hand, the circuit is very sensitive to fluctuating temperatures, which means that a set-up that seems right in the morning will be far from ideal in the afternoon. It’s a real challenge for the engineers.”

-bmwsauber-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Nick Heidfeld , Robert Kubica , Sebastian Vettel , Mario Theissen
Teams Sauber