French GP: BMW Sauber preview

Munich/Hinwil, From urban prowl to country jaunt. After celebrating its maiden Formula One victory in the buzzing city of Montreal, the BMW Sauber F1 Team immersed itself immediately in preparations for the French Grand Prix in the rural ...

Munich/Hinwil, From urban prowl to country jaunt. After celebrating its maiden Formula One victory in the buzzing city of Montreal, the BMW Sauber F1 Team immersed itself immediately in preparations for the French Grand Prix in the rural backwater of Magny-Cours. Robert Kubica, fresh from a hugely popular victory in the Canadian GP, and Nick Heidfeld, who followed his team-mate home in majestic fashion to take second place in Montreal, are aiming to record a maximum return once again. Kubica arrives at the Circuit de Nevers leading the drivers' standings for the first time in his short 29-race Formula One career. Meanwhile, the Canadian one-two has taken the BMW Sauber F1 Team into second place in the Constructors' Championship, just three points behind leaders Ferrari.

Nick Heidfeld:

"I like the Magny-Cours track and also the rural surroundings. I'm lucky enough to spend the GP weekend here each year in a small moated castle. There are only a handful of rooms, which don't come with a TV, radio or other luxuries but do have three-metre-thick walls. Among the distinguishing characteristics of the circuit are its extremely even surface, several blind corners and two high-speed chicanes. Turn 2 stands out - an extremely long and fast right-hander which leads you through a hollow and then sends you sharply uphill on the way out. The circuit has been modified in some areas, and the final chicane does not fit in so harmoniously with the rest of the track. It has very high kerbs, which you have to ride - and this often produces spectacular shots of cars on two wheels."

Robert Kubica:

"For many people Magny-Cours is a boring place, but I like the track quite a lot. This is the place where I came back last year after my accident. It's an interesting track because it has all kinds of corners - high-speed, low-speed, high-speed chicanes, a hairpin and heavy braking. So I'm looking forward to the race and I hope that I can do as well as possible here, as I have done in most of the grands prix since the beginning of the season. I hope we will again have some improvements on the car that will help us to close the gap to Ferrari and McLaren. My goal is to score as many points as possible and to still be in a strong position after the race."

Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director:

"We may have had a party to celebrate the one-two in Montreal, but this did not impinge on our preparations for the French Grand Prix. As we have up to now, we will focus on the next race and are aiming to put in another strong performance at Magny-Cours.

"The atmosphere in Monaco and Montreal is one of the highlights of the season, but personally I also greatly appreciate the rural surroundings of the Circuit de Nevers, as here it is all about the sport. The circuit is very demanding, and the travellers' community atmosphere in the paddock has its own particular charm. I will never forget the moment back in 2001 when we recorded BMW's first pole position since making its return to Formula One."

Willy Rampf, Technical Director:

"The Circuit de Nevers offers an interesting mixture of slow sections, which demand a high level of grip, and fast S-shaped sectors, in which good car stability plays a significant role. The Adelaide hairpin at the end of the long straight is the perfect place for overtaking, as the circuit is very wide here and there is a generous run-off area. The track has an extremely flat surface, which the teams take into account with car set-up - the cars run low ground clearance here. At the same time, it is important that the drivers can also be aggressive through the chicane before the start/finish straight, where the kerbs are very high.

"Our one-two in Canada gave a huge motivation boost to the whole team, of course, and we will be pulling out all the stops to defend Robert's lead in the World Championship standings."

History and background:

The first official Formula One French Grand Prix was held in the Champagne city of Reims in 1950. The race has been run at the Paul Ricard track 14 times, in Reims 11 times, five times each in Dijon and Rouen, four times in Clermont-Ferrand and once in Le Mans. 2008 sees Magny-Cours hosting its 18th French Grand Prix, the 58th edition of the race.

Magny-Cours is situated in western Burgundy about halfway between Paris and Lyons. The nearby town of Nevers has a small airport used by many of the teams arriving on charter flights or in private aircraft.

1959 saw the start of construction work on the race track here. It opened in 1961 and had its first redesign ten years later. Formula One made the switch from Le Castellet to Magny- Cours in 1991, a move backed by the French government as a way of bolstering the region's underdeveloped economy.

-credit: bmw sauber

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