French GP: BMW Sauber preview

After two races in the urban surrounds of North American metropolises, Formula One is rediscovering its taste for the countryside as the season reaches its halfway point. The drivers will line up in Magny-Cours on 1st July, before locking horns ...

After two races in the urban surrounds of North American metropolises, Formula One is rediscovering its taste for the countryside as the season reaches its halfway point. The drivers will line up in Magny-Cours on 1st July, before locking horns again at Silverstone a week later.

As the last two races have shown, even the most impressive formbook means little if you don't get both cars across the finish line. A crash and a retirement saw the BMW Sauber F1 Team leave North America feeling decidedly short-changed.

As for the team's aims for the French GP, continuing the competitiveness it has shown over the season so far and finishing the race with both cars in the points would do nicely. A pre- race medical examination will determine whether Robert Kubica returns to the cockpit at Magny-Cours.

Nick Heidfeld:

"The Magny-Cours circuit has a lot to offer - two tricky chicanes, a high-speed section and some slow corners. I'm looking forward to the race weekend. The track is demanding, I like the countryside around the circuit and you tend to eat very well in France."

"There's not a lot going on in Magny-Cours and it gets its fair share of criticism as a result. But I like a bit of peace and quiet now and again. And I think the relative tranquillity will do the team good after the eventful time we've had recently."

"Although we only picked up a single point in the USA, it's clear that we are still making progress. In terms of pure performance, our car was the second-best in Indianapolis. I could have qualified third and also finished third in the race."

Robert Kubica:

"I can't wait to get back into the car. I may not have been given the green light to compete in the USA, but I hope the medical examination at Magny-Cours will be a formality."

"The reason why I wasn't allowed to drive at Indianapolis had nothing to do with how I felt; the problem was the risk involved in suffering a second accident within such a short space of time. That's also why I wasn't allowed to test. I've used the time to focus intensively on preparing for the next race."

"I'm pretty neutral about the Magny-Cours track. It isn't one of my favourite circuits, but at the same time I don't have a problem with it. Magny-Cours is a lot more fun in a Formula One car than with the smaller cars I've driven there before in other categories of racing. You can particularly see the potential of the F1 car through the chicanes."

Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director:

"After the grand prix double-header in the big cities across the Atlantic, the slightly remote rural idyll of Magny-Cours represents a welcome contrast. You are free to focus on the sport and the demanding race track. We were up against it a bit here last season, but managed to escape with a point despite starting from 11th and 16th on the grid."

"The team has come to expect good grid positions in the top ten nowadays - also Sebastian Vettel met that standard in his first ever F1 qualifying at Indianapolis. Like Robert himself, the team is also hoping that he will be back in the car in France. The race doctors at Magny-Cours will have the final say on that one though."

"We have finished in the points in every race so far this season, but in the last two GPs we only managed to get one car to the finish on each occasion. Nick would have been set for a third-place finish in the USA and his retirement was a real pain. We are looking to pick up points with both cars at Magny-Cours and in so doing strengthen our third place in the World Championship."

"You have to bargain for high temperatures again in France. We will be running with the same engines as at Indianapolis. That includes Nick's car, even though the regulations would have allowed us to change the engine this time around. However, it is still in good shape, so we don't need to replace it. We have yet to make an unscheduled engine change in 2007."

"After the French Grand Prix, we have to pack up and head for England. Another two GPs in eight days is hard going, and many members of the team will not make it home at all between the races. There's a lot of time pressure when it comes to setting up and packing away all the kit, as well as on our preparations for the races themselves."

Willy Rampf, Technical Director:

"The two grands prix in North America saw the cars run with medium downforce, but now we're heading into a series of races where high downforce will be the order of the day. Magny-Cours offers an interesting mixture of slow and fast corners."

"One feature worth mentioning is the track surface, which is very sensitive to fluctuations in temperature. The right set-up in the morning might not necessarily be any good in the afternoon. This is something you have to remember when you're making changes to the car."

"Otherwise, the final combination of corners presents the drivers with a real challenge, as they have to be extremely aggressive over the high kerbs to record a good lap time. And so you have to set the car up with this in mind. Optimum grip is also extremely important through this section of the track. The rear tyres take a lot of punishment at Magny-Cours, which is a factor in deciding the right race strategy."

-credit: bmw sauber

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