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BMW shakes-up motorsport management

THERE has been a shake-up in the management of BMW's Formula 1 project with the arrival of a new chief, Dr. Mario Theissen, to oversee strategy and operations. He will work alongside former racer Gerhard Berger, who will look after the project's marketing and public relations.

Theissen is 46 and a mechanical engineer. He has been employed in recent years as head of the Munich company's advanced engineering think-tank, known as BMW Technik GmbH.

The move follows weeks of rumors that there were about to be changes in the staff of the BMW F1 project. This has been expected since February when there was a major reshuffle in the top management at BMW. This resulted in Dr. Wolfgang Ziebart, the project manager of the BMW 3-Series, being appointed to the board of directors as head of the Development Department. One of his responsibilities was to oversee motorsport activities.

The BMW F1 program has been running behind schedule for some months and rumors suggested that the 65-year-old BMW Motorsport technical director Paul Rosche was about to be moved aside to make way for new engineers. Rosche, however, remains in control of the F1 engine program, which is based in the BMW Research and Engineering center (known as FIZ), to the north of Munich.

The company is shortly to conduct the first tests of a V10 engine in the back of a Williams F1 chassis. These initial shakedown tests are likely to be held in secret to avoid any embarrassing failures which could happen. The company has a couple of testing facilities where the tests could take place: the BMW testing grounds at Aschheim, to the east of Munich, or at the Miramas test track in France, where early development work on the McLaren-BMW sportscars was carried out.

The BMW test team will be based in Munich and will feature driver Jorg Muller and, if everything goes to plan, a BMW-engined car should start appearing at F1 tests within a few weeks.

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