European GP: BMW Sauber preview

The BMW Sauber F1 Team looks forward with heightened anticipation to its home race, the European Grand Prix at the Nürburgring. Before the fifth race of the 2006 FIA Formula One World Championship gets underway, there are a number of items on the...

The BMW Sauber F1 Team looks forward with heightened anticipation to its home race, the European Grand Prix at the Nürburgring. Before the fifth race of the 2006 FIA Formula One World Championship gets underway, there are a number of items on the agenda to be ticked off: the BMW Sauber F1 Team Pit Lane Park is to be opened, fans will be offered taxi rides around the grand prix circuit courtesy of F1 drivers, and Formula BMW Germany will once again turn the spotlight on its young racing talent under the gaze of their F1 heroes.

Meanwhile, test drives at Silverstone in the week following the San Marino Grand Prix saw the team focus on the technical preparation of the BMW Sauber F1.06. All three drivers – Nick Heidfeld, Jacques Villeneuve and Robert Kubica – were out clocking laps of the English circuit.

Nick Heidfeld:

“Driving on the Nürburgring is always something very special for me. The race is my personal home grand prix. The Ring is the circuit nearest to Mönchengladbach, where I was born and grew up. As a three-year-old I learnt to ride a bike on the Nürburgring. My father used to take me and my two brothers to the Ring quite often, and in winter we even went tobogganing on the Nordschleife. At the age of eight I had my first go-kart experience on the Nürburgring – great childhood memories."

"I’ve also done a lot of races on the Nürburgring – in Formula Ford, Formula 3, Formula 3000 and, ultimately, Formula One. I’ve really enjoyed every single race in the Eifel and also won a few. Last year I gained my first ever Formula One pole position there and came second in the race."

"Of course that kind of success before a home crowd was fantastic. I don’t feel my home race puts unwanted pressure on me in the least. On the contrary, I’m really looking forward to the support I’ll get there. Nowhere else will I see so many fans.”

Jacques Villeneuve:

“The Nürburgring is not one of my favourite tracks, although in the past I have done well there: I won my first and my last grand prix there in 1996 and 1997. Last year the European Grand Prix was one of the most difficult races of the season."

"Since they put the new layout in the first part of the circuit, I really don’t like the Nürburgring any more, so it is probably my least favourite Formula One track. Still, I hope we can get some good results there especially as the race is in Germany, and for BMW that makes it important. I have always wished we could race on the Nordschleife. I have not had a chance to go round it yet, but that really would be mega.”

Robert Kubica:

“I’m looking forward to the second European track and I know the Nürburgring, especially the GP version, although I have driven the Nordschleife once or twice. It should be a good weekend, especially as it is the first grand prix of the year in Germany. It’s good for the team to be racing in BMW’s home country. The Pit Lane Park will be opened at the Nürburgring, which means that, in addition to my free practice sessions on Friday, I will be busy with this on Saturday and Sunday."

"I will enjoy the whole weekend, but hope our results turn out better than at Imola. I don’t really like the track that much, but there are some nice parts, particularly the quick corners. It’s important to have a car that is very good overall – in the quick corners, the slow corners and the chicanes. The Nürburgring demands that kind of versatility.”

Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director:

“Needless to say, the two Formula One events in Germany are of special significance to BMW. Over the decades, BMW has celebrated spectacular racing triumphs on the Nürburgring. It is a textbook example of how to preserve a historic race track while at the same time implementing modern circuit architecture, and it offers a very special racing atmosphere."

"The Nürburgring ranks somewhere in the middle of GP circuits in terms of full-throttle percentage and maximum speed. Its altitude of a good 600 metres affects all the engines. Due to the thinning air, engine output is reduced by around one percent for every hundred metres above sea level."

"Because both engines made it to the finish in Imola after two race weekends, Jacques and Nick will be lining up with fresh, modified BMW P86 engines. The basic pace of the cars is there. If we succeed in converting that, we will have a chance of earning points in the Eifel."

"We’ve also got something special lined up for the Nürburgring: the BMW Sauber F1 Team Pit Lane Park will be celebrating its debut there. You could say this high-tech adventure park brings a piece of the pit lane right to the spectators: it’s an adventure complex where fans can experience Formula One close at hand, and it’s going to be something very special – something fans have never seen before in F1.“

Willy Rampf, Technical Director Chassis:

“The last two races have shown how crucial it is to make optimum use of the tyres so as to exploit the full potential of the car. The Nürburgring track offers plenty of grip, and rubber wear isn’t too extreme, which means we will be using a relatively soft compound. Cars tend to suffer understeer on this track, and that will be the main consideration when it comes to the car’s set-up."

"It can be offset by the right aero balance or through mechanical modifications. That’s what we have been working on this week during testing at Silverstone. In view of the close competition in the middle of the field at the moment, everything has to be just right, especially if we want to achieve a good position on the grid.”


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