Munich/Hinwil, 30th April 2009. With all eyes focused on the challenge ahead in the 2009 FIA Formula One World Championship, the BMW Sauber F1 Team engineers at the factories in Hinwil and Munich are working flat out on improvements to the F1.09. The team will line up for the first race of the European season in Barcelona on 10th May with an initial development package in place.
"I am looking forward to the race in Barcelona. After a block of four overseas races Formula One comes back to Europe, which I am happy about. As all Formula One teams have tested in Barcelona, I expect the pack to be very close together - even closer than up to now. We will bring a new aero package and we hope to improve significantly compared to our recent performance, as it is our goal to close the gap to the top teams.
"The track is nice to drive and quite challenging. There are some high-speed corners, some low-speed corners and a hairpin which requires very heavy braking. As we have all done a lot of kilometres here, I guess we could drive the circuit with our eyes closed."
"We know the Barcelona track like the back of our hands, as we used to test here a lot. I've been to the circuit so many times. As recently as last year we had 16 days of testing in Barcelona. This year we had four days in March, two for each driver, and there will not be any more. Barcelona is a tricky track to drive because it presents a variety of challenges and the circuit is very sensitive to changes in temperature. If the wind, temperature or grip levels change even slightly, a set-up which was fine one minute is suddenly all wrong the next.
"Like everybody in the team, I am also placing my hopes on our new aerodynamic upgrades. The team has put an incredible amount of energy into trying to close the gap to the leaders. I hope we will perform rather better against our rivals in Barcelona, but that's difficult to predict as all the teams will be bringing upgrade packages of varying degrees to the first race of the European season."
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director:
"The Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona signals the start of the European season after four races overseas. Traditionally this represents something of a second start to the season.
"For the BMW Sauber F1 Team this applies more so than usual this year, as we cannot be satisfied at all with the first four races of the season. After our positive winter testing, all of us at the BMW Sauber F1 Team envisaged a rather different start to the season. The car is not fast enough and we have recorded only one podium finish - Nick Heidfeld's second place in Malaysia.
"We are approaching this challenge in a positive way and are working intensively in Munich and Hinwil to get back to our old form. We will be lining up in Barcelona with an extensive aerodynamics-focused development package, and are already working on further upgrades to be introduced later on in the season."
Willy Rampf, Head of Engineering:
"Although the teams know the Barcelona track extremely well from all the testing they've done there in the past, this circuit frequently presents a new challenge. The problem is the track conditions can change very quickly here and the wind has a big impact on the cars' handling through corners.
"We will be lining up in Barcelona with an extensive development package for the F1.09, which we have put together for the start of the European season. The nose section, more deeply undercut sidepods and the rear wing are all totally new. Added to which, modifications have also been made to the front wing, engine cover and underbody. We expect these improvements to significantly reduce our lap times.
"Of course, we know that the other teams will also have made modifications to their cars for Barcelona. However, we expect to be able to close the gap to our rivals. We won't find this out for certain, though, until the race weekend. Up to then we will only have the results from the wind tunnel and simulations to go on and, of course, can no longer test in advance on the track. Seeing the full potential of the car reflected in results on the track will be a big challenge for the engineers."
History and background:
Since 1991 the Formula One Spanish Grand Prix has been held at the Circuit de Catalunya outside Barcelona. The race was initially hosted by Pedralbes (1951 and 1954), before moving to Jarama (9 grands prix), Montjuic (4) and Jerez (5). In total, there have been 38 Spanish GPs so far. The success of Spanish driver Fernando Alonso over recent years has turned empty seats into packed stands at the Circuit de Catalunya.
The city of Barcelona (population approx. 1.8 million) with its Mediterranean port lies in the northwest of Spain, around 120 kilometres south of the Pyrenees. Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia and Spain's second-largest city.
-credit: bmw sauber