JANUARY 14, 2008
The new BMW Sauber F1.08
The new BMW Sauber F1.08 was unveiled to the media at BMW Welt in Munich this morning. The team says that the new car is completely an evolution of the successful F1.07. The team has been able to invest more in the development of the new car and has taken a few risks the result being what Technical Director Willy Rampf says is a "radical evolution".
"Our aim was to build a car with impressive aerodynamic efficiency, but which also boasted a very stable aero balance," he said. "This means that it hardly loses any downforce when the wheels are turned in, and thus gives the driver a lot of confidence."
The team worked hard on a weight-saving programme throughout the car, the aim being to win flexibility in terms of weight distribution by allowing for as much ballast as possible. There were also changes mandated by the rules, notably the standard electronics unit and the four-race gearbox. With a more nervous car as a result of the ban on electronic aids, the team believed that the best answer would lie in improving the mechanical grip so as to get the most performance possible from the tyres and inspire confidence in the driver, something which many engineers believe will be vital in 2008.
The team began the design of the F1.08 after a handful of races with the F1.07, by which time they had learned some of the weaknesses of the previous car. This led to a change in the placement of the engine, the length of the gearbox, the weight distribution and the size of the fuel tank. There was also a change to the suspension.
But as with most of the 2008 F1 cars it is aerodynamics which is considered to be the most important element in performance. The team had a number of changres in its aerodynamic staff in the course of 2007 and the result was a very different front wing arrangement. This is the most sensitive part of a modern F1 car. The new nose is slimmer than the previous version and works with the various turning vanes to create the most efficiency flow of air to the rear end of the car, the aim being to get greater efficiency was from the bodywork and the undertray. Careful packaging means that the rear bodywork has also been reduced in size. There are some new wing elements on the engine cover which will not only generate more downforce but also improve the flow of the air to the rear wing.
The new car will run for the first time at Valencia on Tuesday, following its brief indoor demonstration in Munich where Nick Heidfeld was at the wheel.
The team has now completed its planned "ramp-up" process and the now has new buildings in Hinwil. The staff there has increased from 275 to 430 while in Muncih there are around 300 working in the engine department. This is still smaller than tghe frontrunning F1 teams but BMW Sauber believes that it can be more efficient than its rivals.
"It will certainly be difficult because the two teams in front of us are the strongest and most experienced in F1," said team boss Mario Theissen. "Yhey will certainly do a big leap over the winter as well. So it only means we have to improve more than they will. And since we made good progress in the first two years, I‚Äôm really confident we can do it again."
The team has not named a test driver but all the signs are that this role will be going to Estonian Marco Asmer.
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