San Marino GP: BMW Sauber preview

The globetrotters are coming home for the first race of the European season in Formula One: the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola. Shorter journeys help to relieve some of the workload on the teams, as does having their trucks and motorhomes around,...

The globetrotters are coming home for the first race of the European season in Formula One: the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola. Shorter journeys help to relieve some of the workload on the teams, as does having their trucks and motorhomes around, with their workshops, offices and canteens.

The BMW Sauber F1 Team has completed another round of testing at Paul Ricard and Barcelona and will line up at Imola with a series of aerodynamic modifications to the BMW Sauber F1.06. Drivers Nick Heidfeld and Jacques Villeneuve are aiming to follow up their satisfying results in Australia – where they finished in fourth and sixth positions respectively – with another good showing at the challenging circuit in northern Italy.

Nick Heidfeld:

“The San Marino Grand Prix is the first race of the season in Europe and, from experience, this is when the teams come out with their first major round of modifications. We’re no different and have tweaked one or two elements of the car’s aerodynamics since the last race. I’m not expecting these changes to shake up the field completely, but they might just result in a readjustment in the balance of power."

"As far as the track itself is concerned, two things in particular stand out. Firstly, that we drive very hard over the kerbs at Imola and need a car that can deal with that kind of treatment. Second, Imola is very tough on the brakes, almost as tough as Canada. That makes efficient brake cooling very important, although the lower top speeds with the V8 engines will make this slightly less of an issue."

"As far as the travelling is concerned, the start of the European season means things are a little calmer again – despite the testing we’ve been doing. I really hope we can build on the progress we’ve made so far this season at Imola.”

Jacques Villeneuve:

“Imola has always been a good track for us as it was there where we got our best result last year. It is a fun track but it is the second race on the engine so we will have to be a little bit careful. It is a very different track to the first three of this year, with a lot of chicanes and kerbing, but it is fun to drive and very difficult to overtake.”

Robert Kubica:

“Imola is one of my favourite tracks in Europe and I am happy to return there after a victory in 2002, which was the first time I drove in Formula Renault. Unfortunately I am not racing but I hope I will help the team to get as much data as possible from the Friday pre-testing and I hope to do a good job."

"It is the first time this season we will race on what I would say are the “old” kind of tracks, because Imola is an old-style circuit with all the kerbs. Bahrain and Malaysia are very flat with no kerbs, but here you have to jump over the chicane. It is something different but I like all types of tracks, as the new ones have larger run off areas and those kinds of features."

"I like Imola, I am happy I am back in Italy where I have lived for five years so I am really looking forward to it. It is also the first time I shall be with the team on a circuit I know.”

Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director:

“Everybody looks forward to the start of the European season – with both people and materials having less distance to travel – and the working conditions in the paddock are better. When we get to Europe, the teams suddenly become home-owners, with the motorhomes set up for the first time in the year."

"We will have a new motorhome this year and are looking forward to settling in. However, the F1 village will have to squeeze into one of the smallest paddock areas for the first European race of the season.”

"Both Nick and Jacques will be using the same BMW P86 engines they finished with in Australia. With the short development time we had for the new engines, that continues to present a challenge for the team. Both engines are still at the stage of development we had reached prior to the race in Melbourne. And, with its high downforce requirement and uphill sections, Imola is a track which generally puts a lot of strain on the engines.”

Willy Rampf, Technical Director Chassis:

“Our goal is to carry over the momentum generated by the positive result in Melbourne into the European season – and the team’s been working very hard to make sure that happens. Indeed, the BMW Sauber F1.06 will line up for the San Marino Grand Prix with both a modified rear section and a new front wing, which promises increased downforce."

"Added to which, we’re working intensively with our partner Michelin to get a better handle on the problems we’ve experienced in bringing the tyres back up to temperature. Imola not only demands a lot of downforce, it also places huge pressures on the brakes. For this reason we use maximum brake cooling and the optimum brake specification for this race."

"The kerb stones in Imola are fairly high and the drivers have to be able to drive straight over them to set a good lap time. This places considerable mechanical loads on the chassis and suspension. Overtaking is difficult as a rule, as the straights between the chicanes are not long enough to pass. That makes a good grid position and the right race strategy all the more important. I’m confident that we are in the position to go out there and put in a good performance once again.”


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