Tag Archives: BMW Sauber

Canada 2008 flashback: Kubica takes first ever win

As there was no Canadian Grand Prix in 2009, due to contract issues, I will instead focus on the 2008 race. It was a completely different situation back then, with Lewis Hamilton leading the championship by 3 points to Kimi Raikkonen, who was 2 points ahead of Felipe Massa, who was a further 2 ahead of Robert Kubica.

The track requires repairs overnight

The track requires repairs overnight

In qualifying, the entire grid was hampered by the track, which literally started to rip up and desintegrate in certain places. Hamilton managed to survive though, and put himself on pole position, ahead of Robert Kubica in the BMW Sauber. While Mark Webber got through to Q3, he was unable to set a time, as he had damaged his car on the broken track in Q2 on his in lap. Three corners (2, 10 and 11) had to be resurfaced overnight, albeit very cheaply, and the track had to be inspected by Charlie Whiting just before the race start.

Lewis Hamilton leads the field into Turn 2

Lewis Hamilton leads the field into Turn 2

The track survived the inspection, and Lewis Hamilton led the field into Turn 1. Robert Kubica tried his best to keep up with him at the first stint, but he simply couldn’t keep up, and Lewis opened up a 5-second lead by Lap 16. However, soon after this Adrian Sutil had a brake failure, and was forced to park his car in a dangerous position. The safety car had to be called out while the car was being removed, and this was just before the pit stops, meaning a headache in terms of strategy.

When the pit lane opened a few laps later, Hamilton, Kubica, Raikkonen, Massa, Rosberg and Alonso all opted to stop, while everyone else stayed behind the safety car. Though Hamilton was eager to retain his lead, his pit stop was longer than everyone elses. Kimi Raikkonen and Robert Kubica emerged from their pit boxes side by side, but as there was a red light at the end of the pit lane (the field was still passing the start-finish straight) they were forced to stop alongside each other. Lewis approached from behind, and disaster struck.

He failed to notice the red light and stationary cars, and braked far too late to avoid them. He swerved, but ended up harpooning into the back of Kimi Raikkonen’s car, ripping off the front of Hamilton’s front wing and suspension, and taking off Raikkonen’s rear wing. Both cars retired on the spot, and Nico Rosberg made situations even worse by hitting the back of Hamilton’s stationary car, breaking off his front wing, though he was able to continue.

Hamilton and Raikkonen retire on the spot, while Rosberg continues with a broken front wing

Hamilton and Raikkonen retire on the spot, while Rosberg continues with a broken front wing

Now the race was turned on its head. Two of the main contenders were out, and then it emerged that Felipe Massa’s fuel rig had failed, as a joint in the fuel line was broken. He was forced to pit again, and fell well down the pack. This left Robert Kubica leading the race. However, he had to pit soon enough, as he was on a 2-stop strategy.

Over this section of the race, there were 7 different leaders of the race, as each leader was forced to pit. Toyota were the biggest gainers, as both drivers had a stint leading the race despite starting in the midfield. Halfway through the race, and Nick Heidfeld was leading the race, though he hadn’t stopped yet. When he pitted, he still emerged in the lead, though just ahead of team-mate Kubica and Fernando Alonso. Robert had to stop one more time, and needed to get ahead of Heidfeld to take the win. So, he made his move.

Kubica overtakes Heidfeld, while Alonso keeps a close eye on the pair

Kubica overtakes Heidfeld, while Alonso keeps a close eye on the pair

Within a lap of Heidfeld emerging still in front, Kubica snatched the lead from him at Turn 1, and set about blazing a trail away from the German. He needed to be about 25 seconds ahead of Nick by his second stop, so he had to push. Though Alonso was 3rd and in contention for a podium, he soon spun out, handing 3rd place to David Coulthard.

Meanwhile, Felipe Massa was fighting his way back up the field after his botched first stop. One of his finest overtakes was at the final hairpin, where he managed to do a double overtake, on both Rubens Barrichello and Heikki Kovalainen. After he pitted for the third time, he flew past Barrichello again, and set about catching the Toyotas. With only a few laps to go, he managed to get past Jarno Trulli to take 5th place.

There were many other incidents across the race. Nelson Piquet Jr crashed on Lap 39 (surprise) because of excessive brake wear. Kazuki Nakajime broke his front wing after hitting Jenson Button, and subsequently retired when the front wing was lodged under his chassis when he entered the pit, lost steering control and crashed in the entry of the pit lane. Also, Giancarlo Fisichella spun out from last place with a few laps to go.

Kubica had built up such a huge lead that he was completely unchallenged after his second stop. He crossed the line first ahead of team-mate Heidfeld, who was 16 seconds behind. David Coulthard was first, in his last ever podium finish in his career. He ran out of fuel 50 metres before parc ferme, and had to run the final stretch to the podium, quite similarly to Jenson Button in Monaco 2009.

This was the first time that Robert Kubica (or a Polish driver) had ever won a race, and it was the only win and 1-2 finish for the BMW Sauber team. It was the first time since Malaysia 2006 that neither a Ferrari or McLaren was on the podium, and the first time since USA 2006 that a McLaren hadn’t scored a point. It was also the first win for a German constructor since the 1962 French Grand Prix (Porsche), and the last ever victory (to date) of a BMW engine winning a race.

Kubica and Heidfeld celebrate their 1-2 finish

Kubica and Heidfeld celebrate their 1-2 finish

After this shock result, Robert Kubica was now leading the drivers’ championship with 42 points. Both Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton had 38, and Kimi Raikkonen was still on 35 after his retirement. Ferrari was still leading the constructors’ championship, but only by 3 points to BMW Sauber.

From then on, Kubica was pressurising his team to continue development on the current car, rather than the 2009 spec version. However, soon enough the team resisted his plea, and it is the main reason why he couldn’t fully challenge for the title in the end. But, his first ever victory still signaled that he had major talent for the future.

12th February: Testing results

Jaime Alguersuari at today's testing

Jaime Alguersuari at today's testing

Jaime Alguersuari went fastest in today’s test at Jerez, as heavy rain yet again hit the circuit in the afternoon.
Half an hour before the test session began at 9 in the morning, light rain began to fall. Temperatures were as low as 9°C throughout the day. However, by 9, the water on the track had mostly dried out. The session was quickly stopped though, because after only 8 minutes Pedro de la Rosa pulled over because of an unspecified problem. He was able to rejoin half an hour later.
But, the rain came back at 9:50, which gradually increased across the next half an hour. The conditions still diminished after this, and Rubens Barrichello was the first to be caught out, spinning at Turn 14 and bringing out the red flags for the second time.

Rubens Barrichello after spinning at Turn 14

Rubens Barrichello after spinning at Turn 14

Rain continued to fall for the next few hours. By 1:00, the cars were beginning to kick up spray behind them. It became very apparent that the morning times were going to be the fastest of the day. The falling conditions were well shown by Nico Rosberg, who was the first to switch to extreme wet tyres, at around 2:00. Very few cars were running after this.
From 2:30 until 4:30, conditions were at their worst, with very heavy rain now pounding the track. Rubens Barrichello summed it all up, saying the track was “like a river and undriveable”. Adrian Sutil spun off at 2:45, causing a third red flag of the day. The Force India car remained in the pits for the rest of the day, because of the team having to repair an electrical problem. The team said afterwards that they were looking to have another flying lap, but didn’t have enough time.
The Virgin team had yet another torrid day, with Lucas di Grassi at the wheel. On Wednesday, they were caught out by the rain, and yesterday Timo Glock had a front wing failure. Today, the Virgin car was forced to wait in the pits until 3:40 (6.5 hours), because the team were still redesigning the front wing after the failure yesterday. A shortage of components hampered their work. Di Grassi made 1 installation lap, before having to return to the pit lane again. He managed another 7 laps over the rest of the day. Since all of his laps were in the wet, his fastest lap was a miserable 1.37.107, more than 17 seconds behind Alguersuari. The Virgin team have managed only 25 laps across 3 days.
The Spaniard’s fastest time was a 1.19.919. He was followed by Pedro de la Rosa (1.20.736) and Adrian Sutil (1.21.428). The rest of the drivers, in order, were: Felipe Massa, Sebastian Vettel, Vitaly Petrov, Nico Rosberg, Rubens Barrichello, Lewis Hamilton, and Lucas di Grassi.

Times from today’s tests:

Driver Team Car Fastest lap Difference # of laps
1. J. Alguersuari Toro Rosso STR5 1.19.919 76
2. P. de la Rosa Sauber C29 1.20.736 +0.817 48
3. A. Sutil Force India VJM03 1.21.428 +1.509 48
4. F. Massa Ferrari F10 1.21.603 +1.684 72
5. S. Vettel Red Bull RB6 1.21.783 +1.864 59
6. V. Petrov Renault R30 1.22.000 +2.081 68
7. N. Rosberg Mercedes W01 1.22.820 +2.901 53
8.

9.

10.

R. Barrichello

L. Hamilton

L. di Grassi

Williams

McLaren

Virgin

FW32

MP4-25

VR-01

1.23.217

1.23.985

1.37.107

+3.298

+4.066

+17.188

120

68

8

Pictures from today’s testing:

11th February: Testing results

Kamui Kobayashi put in a low-fuel run near the end of today’s testing, to take the fastest lap of today’s running in Jerez.

Sebastien Buemi had led for most of the day, with a 1.20.026, but Kobayashi’s lap of 1.19.950 was enough to see him on top. However, there was concern at Virgin, where Timo Glock had a “front wing mounting problem”, which basically ment the front wing fell off. This was only after 11 laps, and even worse, there was a shortage of components, which meant that the team will have to wait until tomorrow to continue testing. Glock has managed a miserable 16 laps in 2 days, and has finished last on both occasions.

Back at the top, Jenson Button was behind Kobayashi and Buemi in third (1.20.618), and was followed by Hulkenberg, Liuzzi, Schumacher, Alonso, Kubica, Webber and then Glock.

There was another problem, however, in the form of yesterday’s intermediate tyres wearing too quickly. Many of the drivers were today complaining about excessive wear on the tyres, even when the track was saturated with water. Nico Hulkenberg said:

“Even though we were picking up a lot of water on the track they still seemed too soft. They were wearing a lot quite quickly.”

Jenson Button, however, believes the problem is with the Jerez circuit itself:

“It’s quite an abrasive surface here. The wet tyre felt like it would last forever but the intermediate had a much shorter lifespan. I think that was the same for everyone. It’s about keeping a balance so you’re not destroying one end. It is an abrasive surface and layout here and we saw the same thing last year.”

On another subject, Hulkenberg has said that there is definitely a power increase with this year’s Cosworth engine, compared to last year’s Toyota one. He said:

“It’s good, I’m very positively surprised about it. There’s been no issues with reliability and drive-ability’s very good. It feels better, it feels stronger [than the Toyota].”

Times from today’s test:

Driver Team Car Fastest lap Difference # of laps
1. K. Kobayashi Sauber C25 1.19.950 103
2. S. Buemi Toro Rosso STR5 1.20.026 +0.076 121
3. J. Button McLaren MP4-25 1.20.618 +0.668 83
4. N. Hulkenberg Williams FW32 1.20.629 +0.679 67
5. V. Liuzzi Force India VJM03 1.20.754 +0.804 80
6. M. Schumacher Mercedes W01 1.21.003 +1.133 124
7. F. Alonso Ferrari F10 1.21.424 +1.474 129
8.

9.

10.

R. Kubica

M. Webber

T. Glock

Renault

Red Bull

Virgin

R30

RB6

VR-01

1.22.003

1.22.043

1.29.964

+2.053

+2.093

+10.014

103

99

11

Pictures from today’s testing:

3rd February: Testing results

Yet another day with Ferrari on top of the timesheets today in Valencia, but this time it was Fernando Alonso who led the way.

A massive crowd of over 35,000 (compared to 7,000 for the last 2 days) greeted Alonso at the track. His fastest lap was a 1m11.470s. This was not only a great lap, but it was at the start of a long stint, so it wasn’t just a loght fuel load that was pushing him on. However, Alonso has remained cautious, saying:

“I think maybe if we topped the times the three days is related to fuel load or whatever, or maybe because it’s true we are competitive. But before being competitive we need to make sure we do a lot of laps and that the car is strong and can finish all the grands prix. We are at that period of winter testing.”

“We need to make the car very, very strong and until Barcelona or the last test at Jerez I think we will not look for the performance.”

He added: “The first impression is always good. It was very good last year, and I was not in Q3 very often. For that I’m very, very cautious.”

Pedro de la Rosa continued to set fast laps, coming in 2nd with a best lap of 1m12.094s. It is understood that the Mercedes car does not have its full diffuser integrated yet, but Michael Schumacher still came third with 1m12.438s.

Behind them, Jaime Alguersuari was fourth, followed by Jenson Button, Vitaly Petrov and Nico Hulkenberg. Nico was involved in an incident with de la Rosa earlier in the day, where the two clashed. Hulkenberg’s car was believed to be marginally damaged. He still managed to get 126 laps out of the car across the day.

Times from the day:

Pos  Driver        Team                       Time     Laps
 1.  Alonso        Ferrari              (B)   1:11.470  127
 2.  de la Rosa    BMW Sauber-Ferrari   (B)   1:12.094   80
 3.  M.Schumacher  Mercedes GP          (B)   1:12.438   82
 4.  Alguersuari   Toro Rosso-Ferrari   (B)   1:12.576   97
 5.  Button        McLaren-Mercedes     (B)   1:12.951   82
 6.  Petrov        Renault              (B)   1:13.097   75
 7.  Hulkenberg    Williams-Cosworth    (B)   1:13.669  126

Pictures from today's testing:

February 1st: Testing results

The first day of testing concluded in Valencia today.

We saw the launches of the Williams, Mercedes and Toro Rosso cars. Then, 7 of the teams headed out for testing at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit. Temperatures were around 12 degrees Celcius.

Felipe Massa finished top of the timesheets today, ahead of Pedro de la Rosa and Michael Schumacher. Massa completed the most laps (102) and set the fastest lap at 1:12.574. Mercedes were the onlt team to run both of its drivers, with Schumacher 3rd (1:12.947) while Rosberg was 4th (1:13.543). Robet Kubica was last, driving for Renault, lapping in a 1:15.000 as a fastest lap, 2.5 seconds slower than Massa.

The only red flag was for Rubens Barrichello, who spun while out on track at around 4.45 pm. Toro Rosso only got 18 laps in with Sebastien Buemi, because of a gearbox problem.

Full testing results:

Driver Team Car Fastest lap Difference # of laps
1. F. Massa Ferrari F10 1:12.574 102
2. P. de la Rosa BMW Sauber C25 1:12.784 +0.210 74
3. M.Schumacher Mercedes GP W01 1:12.947 +0.373 40
4. N. Rosberg Mercedes GP W01 1:13.543 +0.969 39
5. G. Paffett McLaren MP4-25 1:13.846 +1.272 86
6. R.Barrichello Williams FW32 1:14.449 +1.875 75
7. S. Buemi Toro Rosso STR5 1:14.762 +2.188 18
8. R. Kubica Renault R30 1:15.000 +2.426 69

More photos of testing today (more photos in the individual car launches):

Kobayashi will keep aggressive driving style

New BMW Sauber driver Kamui Kobayashi

New BMW Sauber driver Kamui Kobayashi

New BMW Sauber driver Kamui Kobayashi has said that he does not plan to change his very aggressive driving style.

The Japanese driver impressed last year, even though he only drove in 2 races, Brazil and Abu Dhabi. His extreme driving style won him many instant fans, including myself. To put it this way, in only his second race, he got past the newly crowned world champion, Jenson Button.

Because he needed to perform well to get a seat for 2010, many people feared that he would become less aggressive. However, Kamui disagrees, saying:

“I don’t think it is something special for me, it’s just my style. I will keep like this, of course without crashing. It is my style and I won’t change.”

He also feels that he is better prepared this season:

“We come in to this season having enough time to prepare for it,” Kobayashi said. “The last two races [last year] I had no testing, so it was really difficult, but now I have so many tests and we can work with the car from the beginning of the season.”

Kobayashi said that he was unwilling to make predictions for 2010 before testing, but said:

“I will try to be the first Japanese driver to win, this is my ultimate goal. But at the moment it is too far away to think about that and I am just focused on my tests now.”

My analysis of his driving style staying is short and sweet: Yay!

BMW Sauber C29 released

The new BMW Sauber C29

The new BMW Sauber C29

The BMW Sauber C29 was released today in Valencia.

The car, at the moment, has no sponsors. However, it is known that Scalp-D, a Japanese shampoo (ooh, exclusive!), and watch brand Certina have been confirmed as main sponsors. The logos were not ready to be put on the car in time, it is believed.

The livery itself just looks stupid. The white is not even slightly changed, the black is just boring, and the blue stripe on the nose is just a free ad for BMW.  Then, the front and rear wings are just plain black, with absolutely no imagination. Even the small red stripe, which featured on last year’s BMW Sauber, hasn’t changed.

To make matters even worse, there is absolutely no colour whatsoever in the driver overalls. Just look at it, it’s plain white. How bloody mind-numbing are these designers? I’m just hoping that this is just a temporary livery design.

The car has been significantly changed, however. The front and rear wings have been completely redesigned (note the 2009 McLaren-style rear wing endplate lift). The nose cone is 2009 Ferrari style – very long and slightly narrow.  Also, the car features a McLaren style engine intake support. The shark fin engine cover has also been retained.

Comparison photos are available here.

Just to add to current woes, the diffuser has yet again been covered over. I can’t help but feel another huge argument brewing because of this. I’ll write more about this later.

Specifications of the car have also been released:

Chassis: Carbon-fibre monocoque
Suspension: Upper and lower wishbones (front and rear), inboard springs and dampers, actuated by pushrods (Sachs Race Engineering)
Brakes: Six-piston brake callipers (Brembo), carbon pads and discs (Brembo, Carbon Industries)
Transmission: Ferrari Seven-speed quick shift gearbox, carbon, longitudinally mounted, carbon-fibre clutch
Chassis electronics: MES
Steering wheel: BMW Sauber F1 Team
Tyres: Bridgestone Potenza
Wheels: OZ
Length: 4,940 mm
Width: 1,800 mm
Height: 1,000 mm
Track width, front: 1,495 mm
Track width, rear: 1,410 mm
Weight: 620 kg (including driver, tank empty)

Willy Rampf said this about the C29:

“The increased length of the fuel tank means the car has grown longer overall. And because they are slimmer, the front tyres will be more heavily worked, requiring weight to be shifted further towards the rear of the car.”

“An eye-catching feature of the C29 is its highly intricate raised nose. Also very distinctive is an extremely long undercut at the transition from chassis into underbody. These and other aerodynamic measures also help to ensure optimum airflow to the double diffuser. Further changes were required to integrate the Ferrari engine and, in particular, the Ferrari gearbox.”

Ther are no videos available yet, but if there is I will upload it in due course.

Pictures from the launch:

Kubica may start testing alone

Eric Boullier with Robert Kubica

Eric Boullier with Robert Kubica

Renault team boss Eric Boullier has said that first driver Robert Kubica may start the testing season alone, if the team does not find a second driver in time.

The Renault R30 will be released on the 31st January, and will begin testing the next day. However, there are still many doubts regarding the second driver.

Boullier told Autosport:

“It’s not decided yet, very frankly.”

“We are still looking at several drivers available on the market. Two of them are experienced, two of them are rookies. We are now the last established team [without two drivers] and the situation is very different than in July, when you could discuss with everybody.”

There are many rumours that Nick Heidfeld would rejoin Kubica at Renault, having spent 2 years with him in BMW Sauber. Boullier refuses to deny these rumours, saying:

“It would be a lie to say ‘no’. Definitely it’s a different question because he has spent so many years with Robert; the question mark is if we want to put them together again or not – but he is on the list.”

Apart from this, it is known that Ho-Pin-Tung, who tested for Renault in December and is part of Boullier’s driver managment business, is also being considered for the seat.

However, in my opinion, it would be madness to throw away a talent like Heidfeld for someone who finished last at all 3 tests out of 11 drivers.Nick comes with years of experience, and is incredibly reliable as well. Yet, he continues to be ignored, even when he beats stars of the future like Kubica. It would be terible not to see him in F1 next year.

De la Rosa joins BMW Sauber

Pedro de la Rosa testing for McLaren in 2009

Pedro de la Rosa testing for McLaren in 2009

BMW Sauber have announced that Pedro de la Rosa will race for the team this year, alongside Kamui Kobayashi.

The 38-year-old has been the McLaren test driver since 2003. He has competed in 71 Grands Prix since 1999.  He started his F1 career with a point in Melbourne with Arrows. He spent 2 years with them, until he moved to Jaguar in 2001. After 2 years there, he became the McLaren test driver. His last Grand Prix was at Interlagos 2006, when he was substituting for Juan Pablo Montoya.

It is believed that De la Rosa was signed so as to bring experience to the team and his team-mate, Kamui Kobayashi, who has only raced in 2 Grands Prix so far.

Also, it appears that he has backing from Universia, which is a network of 11,000 universities in 15 countries. This orginisation is itself heavily supported by the bank Santander, who have a sponsorship deal regarding fellow Spaniard Fernando Alonso.

“Pedro has spent many years working for a top team at the highest technical level,” said team principal Peter Sauber. “We as a team stand to gain from his experience, and the same goes for young Kamui. The combination of a seasoned racer and an up-and-coming young driver has repeatedly proved a very fruitful one.”

“I don’t expect either of them to disappoint in 2010. Of course it is also crucial that we provide them with a decent car; I feel positive about our in-house progress on that front too. We were able to continue work on our 2010 car as scheduled throughout the recent period of uncertainty.”

De la Rosa said: “I always firmly believed I would be given another chance as a team driver. Since the number of test drives were radically reduced, this was what I was working towards. I’m really excited about the season with Peter Sauber’s team, which has been a solid fixture in Formula One ever since 1993.”

I’m looking forward to seeing Pedro back, as he certainly deserves a good drive after many faithful years of testing. The fact that he got the fastest lap in Brazil 2006 (only raced 8 races that season, and not since) proves that he has lost little of his expertise.

However, I am now much more concerned about Nick Heidfeld. The German is now left with very few drives available: Renault, Campos or USF1. I would be very surprised if he didn’t get a seat for 2010, as his experience and dependability are surely valuable for many teams.

Reorganised BMW Sauber positions announced

BMW Sauber F1 Team

BMW Sauber F1 Team

The reorganisation of  the BMW Sauber F1 team has been announced, with Peter Sauber taking the role of President. However, he will not have a role at the team’s Hinwil base in Germany.

His son, Alex, is now in charge of the marketing department.

Willy Rampf remains as the team ‘s technical director, which he has occupied since the BMW takeover years ago. The positions announced are:

Peter Sauber – President of the Board of Directors
Monisha Kaltenborn – Managing Director
Alex Sauber – Marketing
Willy Rampf – Technical Director
Urs Jampen – Finance Director
Jürg Flach – Director of Operations (production)

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