Malaysian GP: BMW Sauber preview

After the initial stocktaking at the season opener in Bahrain, there& ...

After the initial stocktaking at the season opener in Bahrain, there’s no opportunity for the Formula One teams to catch their breath. The second of 18 races in the FIA Formula One World Championship – the “Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix” – is lined up for this coming Sunday, 19 March.

The BMW Sauber F1 Team is looking forward to the home race of its main sponsor Petronas and bracing itself for the rigours of a race in tropical conditions. On Tuesday and Wednesday prior to the Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix, drivers Nick Heidfeld and Jacques Villeneuve as well as BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen and Peter Sauber will have several PR appearances.

Nick Heidfeld:

“The Malaysian Grand Prix is unusual mainly for its high temperatures and extreme humidity. Basically I don’t have a problem with that. Last year I started from tenth place and made it onto the podium – for me it was one of the most exciting races ever. I had some tough duels and a lot of fun."

"We have experienced some incredible cloudbursts in Sepang, but I can live with that as I basically enjoy driving on a wet track. So far, I’ve managed quite well in Malaysia whatever the conditions. I also know the country quite well by now."

"To get acclimatised I have often taken a brief holiday there before the race, and there has also been plenty on the Petronas agenda – that’s Malaysia’s oil and gas company, who were also our sponsors back in the years when I was driving for Sauber. When you see the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, you get some idea of how important this company is for the country.”

Jacques Villeneuve:

“Malaysia will be a very busy grand prix for the BMW Sauber F1 Team because it’s the home race of our main sponsor Petronas. The track is quite interesting and physically very demanding because of its long high-speed corners that generate high lateral g- forces."

"All this takes place in high ambient temperatures with an extreme humidity, which means that you really need to be physically well prepared. I am confident for the race.”

Robert Kubica:

“Sepang is another circuit I don’t yet know, but after the positive experiences in Bahrain I hope I’ll have this race track sussed just as quickly. My aim is, of course, to support the team as best I can, and it will be important for me to clock up plenty of laps and run through the planned schedule completely."

"The Bahrain race weekend has demonstrated very clearly that it is important to gather extensive data already on the Friday. I have never driven in such an extreme climate as in Malaysia, and so I will also gain valuable experience in that respect. I can’t wait to see Kuala Lumpur, and especially the Petronas Twin Towers that I’ve heard so much about. It’s going to be another interesting weekend for me in many ways.”

Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director:

“Having taken initial stock following the first race of the season, we are now looking forward very much to visiting the home of our main sponsor Petronas. There can’t be many cities as closely associated with a company as Kuala Lumpur, watched over as it is by the Petronas Twin Towers. As part of its Asian strategy the BMW Group has raised its involvement in Malaysia, which includes a sales subsidiary, a parts distribution centre and an IT centre."

"In Sepang the engines have to put up with huge thermal loads, and fuel temperatures also rise to critical levels. Every team prepares for the heat with extra or larger engine air-cooling intakes in the sidepods as well as apertures in the form of slits, flues or exhaust vents. The aerodynamics and engine experts always have to aim for a compromise.”

Willy Rampf, Technical Director Chassis:

“Sepang is an interesting track with a good mix of slow corners that require optimum grip and fast sections demanding maximum stability. Turns 9 and 11 in particular are tricky, with drivers braking into the corner with heavy lateral g-forces. It means you have to take great care with the car’s set-up, which requires a lot of work on the electronics."

"As a result of the lower output of the V8 engines, the aerodynamic settings have taken on even greater importance. The two long straights allow an opportunity for overtaking, so you have to find the right compromise between sufficient downforce and an optimal top speed. The combination of fairly abrasive asphalt and high temperatures means the tyres are subject to extreme loads.”


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