They're certainly on the right path, but there's still a way to go. After a promising debut year in Formula One, the BMW Sauber F1 Team is gearing up for the next step in 2007. In the coming season, the newly established team will continue to pursue its development agenda as planned. The sporting target is clear: more podium places in 2007. At the same time, staff expansion at Hinwil is scheduled to be completed, bringing the total workforce in Switzerland to 430. By the end of the year the new building complex will also be finished, and the BMW Sauber F1 Team will have reached its full complement.
Pit Stop in Munich
Ensconced in the production facilities and offices of BMW AG and in the vicinity of the BMW Research and Innovation Centre in Munich, almost 300 staff spanning a wide range of departments are busy working on BMW's Formula One involvement.
The headquarters of BMW Motorsport is at Anton-Ditt-Bogen in the north of Munich. Here the Formula One engines are developed, built and tested. The move to the new complex, which features state-of-the-art test benches and laboratories for powertrain development, took place at the end of 2005.
BMW's Formula One electronics are developed and manufactured under the same roof, and right next-door is the Formula One component manufacturing facility with its in-house quality control department.
BMW Sauber F1.07 - A Cast of Experts
Work on the BMW Sauber F1.07 concept began in April 2006 and took shape as part of a close cooperation between the chassis experts in Hinwil and their colleagues in Munich responsible for the powertrain, i.e. the engine and transmission, and the electronics. Priorities were set out from day one and all the aspects of the project brought together to create a harmonious overall package.
"We have channelled our experience with the F1.06 into the new car, but at the same time focused on the new challenges presented by the 2007 regulations", explained Willy Rampf, Technical Director of the BMW Sauber F1 Team.
To this end, the most significant change is the switch to a single tire supplier in Bridgestone. In accordance with the stipulations of the FIA, the Japanese company has produced tires which offer less grip as a means of lowering cornering speeds.
"It's clear that the cars are going to slide around more. It was therefore important for us to build a car that is easy to drive and that our drivers can trust sufficiently to go on the attack", added Rampf, giving an insight into the team's development strategy. "We should also expect the cars to run with rather greater downforce as a rule, in order to make up for the loss of grip."
The Nose has it
As always, the key is to enhance aerodynamic efficiency. However, almost as important this year is the need to develop a package that functions as well as possible through corners.
Here, the front wing has an influential role to play, largely dictating the flow of air around the front tires. It has been completely newly developed and forms a harmonious unit with the likewise totally new nose section, which is shorter and sits higher than its predecessor. This results in a reduction in its weight, but also places extra demands on the engineers when it comes to passing the FIA crash tests. The most important aspect of this development, though, is that the wing channels a large amount of air under the car, allowing the underbody and diffuser to work to their full potential.
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