BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen takes a look at the forthcoming Brazilian Grand Prix, the last race of the season, and the previous 17 races of the 2004 FIA Formula One World Championship.
"The Brazilian Grand Prix marks the end of a very long 2004 season. Since our return to Formula One in 2000 we have always achieved our set targets. From our very first race, we surpassed all our expectations. However, for the very first time in 2004 we have failed to reach the goals we set ourselves at the start of the season."
"After promising tests at the beginning of the year, expectations were high. But even in the very first Grand Prix in Australia we realised that our rivals had made a bigger step forward than we had. WilliamsF1 had tried something totally different with a new concept including the radical new nose."
"It's always easier afterwards to say that we should have chosen a different route, but we didn't simply want to close the gap to the opposition - we wanted to overtake them. That means you have to take certain risks, that's why we backed WilliamsF1 all the way."
"Unfortunately it turned out that the disadvantages on the racetrack outweighed the advantages of the concept that had won in the wind tunnel. The new nose had mixed outcomes, but ultimately it was changed to enable new developments. WilliamsF1 responded with an enormous show of strength. There was a restructuring within the team and the chassis department arrived at nearly every Grand Prix with something new."
"In France, and then in Hungary, the changes became apparent with new side pods and a slimmer nose. Although we are not completely satisfied with the results, I am happy that the team rose to the difficult situation and got the maximum results possible from the season."
"The BMW engine was once again the strongest part of our overall package in 2004. The records set at Monza - Pizzonia reached a top speed of 369,9 km/h, the highest ever measured in Formula One, while Montoya set the fastest ever average lap speed - are perfect proof of the matter. Monza is one of Formula One's most demanding circuits engine-wise, with its 70 per cent full-power ratio."
"Further proof that the BMW engine was the benchmark in 2004, is the fact that we were able to race with maximum revs - even in seventh gear. None of the lower gears were under strain. The availability of the maximum revs during the whole weekend, which saw the mileage of an engine double compared to 2003 following massive rule changes, proved that the BMW P84 is a clear exception in Formula One. The BMW engine remained reliable, suffering only one failure throughout the season."
"There were other areas which didn't make the season any easier. Ralf's accident at Indianapolis, and his subsequent 14-week convalescence break, hurt the team. Furthermore, we had three disqualifications to deal with. Generally we were in an unusual situation with our drivers as both will leave the team at the end of the season. Although the team and its drivers coped relatively well with everything, the situation didn't help us."
"In 2005 certain things must and will change. Technically WilliamsF1's new wind tunnel and further optimisation of the resource cross-linking at Munich and Grove should be fruitful. The new drivers will give a boost in motivation to the whole team. With these ingredients we intend to close the gap to the front runners and fight for race wins next year."
"These thoughts will play no part in the season finale in San Paulo, however. The Brazilian Grand Prix is all about the team and its drivers being able to finish the season on a high note after such a difficult year."
"In other fields of motorsport, BMW Motorsport has been very successful. We are the European Touring Car Champions, winning the manufacturers' and the drivers' titles in the FIA European Touring Car Championship. We took the overall win in the N?rburgring 24 Hours and a class win at the 24 Hours of Spa. In addition, we have successfully continued the globalisation of Formula BMW with two new series starting in the Great Britain and the USA."