Spanish GP: BMW Sauber preview

Munich/Hinwil. The BMW Sauber F1 Team has barely embarked on its third season and is already heading for its first Formula One grand prix as the leader of the constructors' championship. In the first three World Championship races of the 2008 ...

Munich/Hinwil. The BMW Sauber F1 Team has barely embarked on its third season and is already heading for its first Formula One grand prix as the leader of the constructors' championship. In the first three World Championship races of the 2008 season, the team was on the podium each time (two second places and a third), had its first pole position (Robert Kubica/Bahrain) and set its first fastest race lap (Nick Heidfeld/Malaysia).

With 30 points, the BMW Sauber F1 Team is one ahead of Ferrari and two of McLaren Mercedes. During the brief spring break all the teams have been upgrading their cars in preparation for the European curtain-raiser in Barcelona on 27th April. The Spanish Grand Prix on the impressive, but unforgiving, Circuit de Catalunya could prompt a reappraisal of where the teams stand relative to one another.

Nick Heidfeld:

"The Spanish Grand Prix has its own special ambience because the stands are now regularly packed to the rafters. The fans ensure a brilliant atmosphere, which we as drivers pick up on to some extent as well.

"Although I have already clocked up hundreds of race and test laps on the Circuit de Catalunya, boredom just doesn't come into it. It has often been the case that a set-up determined during testing was no longer the right one for the race weekend. That could be due to the weather or to the condition of the track, which naturally accumulates much more rubber deposits over a grand prix weekend than during testing.

"Now the question everybody wants to hear the answer to is: how well are the new components, with which we've modified the BMW Sauber F1.08 since the initial overseas races, going to work? I'm also very keen to see whether we have made more progress with our new developments than the competition. At any rate, I'm confident that we will be just as strong as in Australia, Malaysia and Bahrain."

Robert Kubica:

"I think we will have a more predictable race than the first three overseas grands prix. The conditions this time round are completely different. All the teams know the Barcelona circuit like the back of their hands because we do a lot of testing here. That's why I expect the gaps between the teams to become a lot smaller than in the last races.

"Everyone will be coming to the season's first European grand prix on top form. I guess all the teams will be lining up with an improved car. But at the same time that means we also have to get the maximum out of the BMW Sauber F1.08. If we manage that, and since the latest test in Barcelona I am firmly convinced we will, I'll be racing right up at the front again. My goal is to achieve a good result to earn as many points as possible for myself and the team."

Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director:

"It was a textbook start to the season for our BMW Sauber F1 Team. We're no longer the number three team, as last year, but over the first three races we have carved out our niche right up among the top three teams. The workforces in Munich and Hinwil are accordingly elated and fired up with incentive.

"We used the three-week break after the batch of overseas races for our intensive preparation for the European opener in Spain. The race in Barcelona is almost like a second start to the season. For the first time in 2008, Formula One will be rolling up in Spain with everything in tow: trucks and hospitality facilities not only make a great impression; more importantly, they save a tremendous amount of work.

"The Circuit de Catalunya is one that makes wide-ranging demands and is frequently used for testing by the teams. It has often served as a yardstick for their general competitiveness. Here all the teams will be taking a step forward on the development front, us included. Afterwards there will be a fresh assessment of how things stand."

Willy Rampf, Technical Director:

"I can't wait to see how things pan out in Barcelona because almost all the teams have been testing improvements to their cars here last week. Everyone has made progress, but the key question is, how much compared to the competition? That's why it's set to be a very interesting race and one that will also point the way ahead for the coming weeks and months. We've been pretty happy with our improvements, so we should be able to keep up with the front runners as before.

"Barcelona is a circuit the teams know back to front from the numerous tests that are carried out here. And yet it proves a challenge each time around, with the wind often playing a crucial role. It means the balance constantly has to be adjusted. The many medium-fast and high- speed corners demand a great deal of downforce, which means the tyres come in for some punishment. That's why we use the hardest compounds here."

History and background:

2008 sees the 18th Spanish Grand Prix to be hosted at the Circuit de Catalunya north of Barcelona. The first two Spanish GPs since the official inauguration of Formula One were held in Pedralbes (1951 and 1954). Later venues were Jarama (9 GPs), Montjuich (4) and Jerez (5). Formula One has been staged in Barcelona since 1991. In total, there have been 37 Spanish GPs so far.

The city of Barcelona (population approx. 1.8 million) with its Mediterranean port lies in the northwest of Spain, around 120 kilometres south of the Pyrenees. Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia and Spain's second-largest city.

-credit: bmw sauber

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