BMW Sauber launches the F1-06 in Valencia

BMW Sauber launches the F1-06 in Valencia

BMW Sauber unveiled its 2006 challenger in Spain on January 16th, revealing its new livery and presenting its driver line up for the season. At the launch, which was held in Valencia's architecturally impressive Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias...

BMW Sauber unveiled its 2006 challenger in Spain on January 16th, revealing its new livery and presenting its driver line up for the season. At the launch, which was held in Valencia's architecturally impressive Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias (CAC), the F1-06 displayed predominantly white bodywork with dark blue sidepods and rear wing planes. Red line detailing completed the look, along with the sponsor logos.

Nick Heidfeld, Jacques Villeneuve and Robert Kubica with the BMW Sauber F1.06.
Photo by BMW PressClub.
BMW motorsport director Mario Theissen, technical director Willy Rampf and drivers Nick Heidfeld, Jacques Villeneuve and Roberk Kubica took to the stage at the start of the proceedings. "Formula One wasn't a dream as such," said Theissen of BMW joining the sport as a team in its own right. "I would rather call it a vision, a vision which we have developed over the past year, especially in the past six or seven months."

"It is a big challenge, it's quite complex to get such an operation together, it's very demanding. We have decided to expand the factory (in Hinwil) and we have our partners on board and our drivers on board, and now we have the car ready. We are a new team and we start from eighth position in the constructors' championship, the target is to move up and as up as quickly as possible. We are very confident that we have everything in place."

Heidfeld returns to Hinwil after a two year absence, where he last raced with Sauber in 2003, and Villeneuve stays on from his role as race driver with Sauber last year. Robert Kubica joins the team as test and third driver fresh from winning the Renault World Series championship in 2005. "We're very happy about the line up we have," Theissen said.

"With Nick we bought him into the game, we were instrumental in getting him on board with BMW Williams. He did very well in the car, but not particularly well on the bike," he joked in regard to Heifeld's cycling accident that put him out of the last five races of 2005. "And we wanted to have Nick with us this year."

"With Jacques we took our time as he had a difficult start last year, which shows that even a former world champion cannot just step in after a pause and be at the front. But in the second half of the season Jacques matched his teammate. He has the motivation to improve even further and for us that was enough for us to say 'Jacques is our man'."

"We bought Robert on board at the end of last year and I think he's a very promising young man. He made his achievements without big support from the outside and we're really looking forward to working with these three drivers."

Heidfeld has had an unsettled few years with different teams but proved his worth with Williams in 2005, until the bicycle incident put him out of action. For him, the move to BMW provides security as well as competitiveness. "I've seen several teams over the last couple of years but this year is definitely very special for me because different to the last couple of years I know that I will be with (BMW) for three years."

"I've seen how BMW stand behind their project and they've seen the last couple of years what it takes to be successful and how much it costs, and still they make the choice to enter (F1). From what I've seen so far I'm really happy and feel like everybody is giving 100 percent to be successful."

Villeneuve had to wait a little while before BMW confirmed him for the second race seat but now he's there, the Canadian is happy to be continuing with the team in its new incarnation. "It's great, it's an evolution of what was in place last year, so it' not starting from zero, which takes forever," he said. "All the engineering staff, everything that was already in place is being increased, a lot of professional people have been bought in which means more testing, more time in the wind tunnel, more development of the car."

Asked what his expectations are for 2006, Villeneuve replied wryly: "That it will be better than last year. It's impossible to know where we stand right now, everyone's been testing in different configurations, some with interim cars, some still with the V10, so it's really impossible to judge at the moment. But everybody is working, everybody is motivated and wants success and that's the only way to have success, no matter how long it takes."

21 year-old Pole Kubica is eager to get started in F1 and he will drive the third car in Friday practice sessions of race weekends, as well as the usual testing work. "It is important for me this year, thanks to the team for giving me such an important role in the BMW Sauber Formula One team and I think it will be a big challenge for me. I hope that I will be able to grow with the team and maybe stay longer."

The BMW Sauber F1.06.
Photo by BMW PressClub.
As for the car, the F1-06 is a completely new chassis to go with the V8 engine. The V8 tends to vibrate more than the V10 which has an effect on the whole car. "Due to the vibrations, firstly the reliability of the engine is obviously a consideration," said Theissen. "And secondly this effects the car -- obviously, the chassis design has to deal with vibrations as well. All the chassis parts have to be rigid and robust enough to cope with it."

Rampf explained the main differences of the new car. "At the front end the chassis is much lower than the previous car, one of the main reasons being the efficiency of airflow, to have a free an undisturbed airflow, that's the reason why we have this suspension. With the V8 engine there is less heat so we can run with smaller radiator inlets, so the sidepod area can be made much smaller. Everything is much tighter compared to the V10 engine."

After the presentation it was off to Valencia's Circuit Ricardo Tormo where the F1-06 had its initial laps in the Spanish sunshine with Heidfeld behind the wheel. While the difference in sound between the V8 and V10 is noticeable, it's not a huge difference and it still sounds good enough to send a shiver up your spine and make you want to hear it again. The F1-06 looked great on the track and one can only wait with anticipation to see how BMW fares in its first year as a fully fledged team.

F1-06 technical specifications

Chassis: carbon fibre monococque
Suspension: Sachs Race Engineering
Brakes: Brembo, Carbone Industrie
Transmission: BMW Sauber F1 Team 7-speed transmission
Chassis electronics: Magneti Marelli
Steering wheel: BMW Sauebr F1 Team
Tyres: Michelin
Wheels: OZ

Length: 4,610mm
Width: 1,800mm
Height: 1,000mm
Track width, front: 1,470mm
Track width, rear: 1,410mm
Wheelbase: 3,110mm
Weight: 600kg (incl. driver, ready to drive, tank empty)

BMW P86 V8 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
Crankshaft: steel
Oil system: dry sump lubrication
Engine management: BMW
Weight: 95 kg

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