Theissen looks ahead to Malaysia

Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director, gives an inside view of the BMW WilliamsF1 Team's preparations for the second Grand Prix of the 2004 Formula One Championship. "Malaysia is the second Grand Prix to take place under the new ...

Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director, gives an inside view of the BMW WilliamsF1 Team's preparations for the second Grand Prix of the 2004 Formula One Championship.

"Malaysia is the second Grand Prix to take place under the new regulations, whereby only one engine is allowed for each race car, per weekend. The objective, therefore, of all Formula Ones' manufacturers is to build an engine that will last 800 kilometres without sacrificing power."

Dr Mario Theissen.
Photo by Brousseau Photo.

"One outcome of the new regulations is that engine use is being controlled to suit certain situations far more than in previous years. In other words, during qualifying and certain race situations, the engines are being run flat out, whereas in free practice and other phases of the race, the aim is to conserve the power unit."

"There are various ways of doing this. One way is to cut down on the distance covered during practice, but that is not our preferred approach. Our drivers and engineers make full use of the free practice sessions for set-up evaluations and tyre selections."

"Another opportunity for conserving the engine is to modify the gear selection parameters, which is sensible in certain situations. For example, when choosing tyres on Friday, it doesn't make any difference whether you change gear 500 revs earlier or later so this is the perfect time to preserve the engine."

"In Melbourne we saw how the various teams handle the situation in different ways. Trust in your own technical capabilities certainly plays a huge roll in how you do things. We will continue to watch the different strategies used by rival teams in Malaysia, as it gives us a good indication as to where our rivals are."

"After the relatively cold start to the season in Australia, we can expect a 'hot battle' in Sepang. Conditions were extreme last year, a mixture of sauna and steam bath depending on how much it had rained. In 2003, we had 33°C air temperature and 61°C track temperature, plus air humidity of 80 percent. The cockpit temperatures rose to 55°C - under such conditions a driver will lose around three litres of fluid during the race. Their physiotherapists spent the whole weekend giving them water and electrolytes. The BMW WilliamsF1 Team hospitality unit served a total of 3,300 litres of mineral water and soft drinks."

"The high air humidity, which we as Europeans are not used to, is a huge demand on the circulation system, but it's not a problem for the engines. To deal with the higher temperatures in Malaysia, we will probably see additional or larger air-cooling intakes and exhaust extraction vents. These apply to the air intakes in the side-pods and the two vents in the exhaust manifold. Teams will also be placing cooling fans and dry ice at the intakes of the side-pods the moment a car returns into the pits."

"Just before the start, following the warm-up lap, it's not possible to do that. The situation can become critical when there is no headwind and the sun is blazing down on the tarmac, and water temperatures begin to rise rapidly. To stop the development of expensive high pressure systems, the FIA regulations state that a valve must be built into the cooling system that opens under a pressure of 4.5 bar. If that happens during the start process, the water evaporates and cannot be replaced later."

"We are confident that our BMW P84 engine will run reliably in the tropical heat of Malaysia and I doubt that the Malaysian Grand Prix will be the only hot race of the season. I expect that in Bahrain's desert we will face conditions that are even more extreme."

-williams-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Mario Theissen
Teams Williams