Tag Archives: BMW

Fisichella may be Sauber driver for 2010

Giancarlo Fisichella at the Vrooom Ferrari event

Giancarlo Fisichella at the Vrooom Ferrari event

Giancarlo Fisichella is reportedly on his way to getting a race seat with the Sauber team for this year.

The Italian, who is currently Ferrari’s test driver, flew up to the team’s base in Hinwil, Switzerland. He had already driven for the team before, in 2004, alongside Felipe Massa.

The 37-year-old now looks likely to be joining Kamui Kobayashi for the 2010 season. The team which was previously owned by BMW will be running with Ferrari engines in 2010, and the Italian team has already admitted that it will not prevent Fisichella from joining another team should he wish to do so.

The 2009 F1 Review- Williams, BMW Sauber and Toyota

Toyota locked out the front row in Bahrain but still failed to get their first win

Toyota locked out the front row in Bahrain but still failed to get their first win

Here is the second part of my review of all the 2009 F1 teams, and looking forward to the 2010 season. This article is for Williams, BMW Sauber and Toyota.

At the start of the season, Williams were one of the 3 teams to have incorparated a double-decker diffuser into their car, which gave a big advantage compared to the others. However, Williams didn’t capitalise on this, even at the start, and it resulted in a 7th place out of 10 finish, with 34.5 points. Every single one of these points, just like Renault, came from the first driver: Nico Rosberg in this case. His team-mate, Kazuki Nakajima, was unlucky at times, and probably did deserve a few points. However, he would have still been completely crushed by his team-mate over the last 2 seasons. The main fault of the car appeared to be the Toyota engine, which lacked the power to keep up. Williams have since annouced they are to use Cosworth engines for next season. However, it is still to be seen whether Cosworth can supply a competitive engine, having not supplied engines in F1 since 2006.

A general lack of pace, rather than unreliability or driver crashes, cost Williams dearly this year. The FW31 had no strong points in any sector to make it as good as it should have been. Nevertheless, Nico Rosberg managed 8 points finishes in a row, an excellent achievement. He fully deserves his driver role in Mercedes next year. Nakajima, let’s be honest,  was never going to be retained for 2010. The team have announced Rubens Barrichello and Nico Hulkenberg as their drivers for next year. Barrichello brings 17 years of technical experience, wisdom, and awfully bad luck. He appears to have replaced Mark Webber as F1’s unluckiest driver. Nico Hulkenberg is a very talented driver making his debut in F1 next year. He is the GP2 champion, and formerly won the F3 Euroseries and A1GP. I rate him  very highly as probably the most talented newcomer for next year, so keep an eye on him. So, with 2 very good drivers, it’s all down to the car.

BMW Sauber went into the 2009 season expecting Robert Kubica to be contending for the championship. The poor car put a quick stop to that. Nick Heidfeld had more points finishes, but a second place in Brazil meant Kubica beat him in the drivers standings. Both of them tried as hard as they could, in a car that was designed for the KERS system, which they never got right. BMW decided to discontinue their KERS, while Ferrari and McLaren kept theirs and eventually won races. If BMW Sauber had stayed on, it might have been possible for them as well.

After Hungary, BMW Sauber announced they were to leave F1 at the end of the year. To me, it seems a very poor idea, since it was only one bad year that they had. However, the board did not want to continue funding the team, and attempted to sell the team to a consortium called Qadbak. This eventually failed (see my article “Why Qadbak Failed” for this). Peter Sauber then  took over, buying an 80% stake in the team. No drivers have yet been confirmed for 2010, but Nick Heidfeld is a probability.

After 8 winless years and massive money spent, Toyota finally gave up and left F1 at the end of 2009.  The main reasons were because of the massive amounts of money spent, and the lack of wins. The team could have won in Bahrain, but a bad tyre decision cost them dearly. The drivers, Timo Glock and Jarno Trulli, performed well, scoring 5 podiums between them. This was not enough, as the car’s performance varies massively from track to track. In Bahrain, they qualified 1st and 2nd. Whereas in Monaco, they were right at the back. Performance deteriorated over the season, and the incorporated double-decker diffuser couldn’t give them an advantage any more, when the rest of the teams adopted their own.

Obviously, Toyota are gone, so the drivers have gone off to different teams. Timo Glock snubbed Renault to sign for Virgin, while Jarno Trulli teams up with Heikki Kovalainen at Lotus.  Hopefully, over the next few years, we can see Glock take his first victory, and the notorious “Trulli train” might not be so much of a problem.

Opinion- Why Qadbak Failed

BMW Sauber F1 Team

BMW Sauber F1 Team

Qadbak’s attempted takeover of BMW Sauber failed this week, as Sauber took over the team, and then received a spot on the 2010 grid. However, there is still a lot to analyse regarding this investor group.

Qadbak Investments Ltd is known to be a Swiss-based company registered in the British Virgin Islands. It claims to have a total portfolio value of £97bn, invested in natural resources, heavy industry, logistics and infrastructure. It  served as the vehicle for the purchase of the football club Notts County. This was in the news recently, when one of Qadbak’s senior representatives, Russell King, had £1.9 million of his assets frozen due to unpaid debt and fraud. The unpaid debt referred to a different company (Belgravia) with whom he tried to found a Dubai-based Formula 1 team.

The Notts County takeover is important here, as holes started to appear in their story. Notts County released a statement, naming two of the families in the Qadbak group as the Shafi and Hyat families. However, Anwar Shafi, a member of the Shafi family, denied any connection with Notts County or Qadbak. No statement was made by the Hyat family. Here, the structure of Qadbak is still unknown, which must have worried the FIA when Qadbak went to buy out BMW Sauber.

With no public news on the consortium, it is unclear whether the FIA were any more knowledgable on the matter than we were. It is more than likely they were, but this is inconclusive. The FIA wanted to increase the size of the grid to 13 (at one point 14) teams, so allowing Qadbak in seemed like a good idea. However, the secrecy that Qadbak had started to put doubts into people’s minds. Meyrick Cox, the managing director of Rothschild Bank, described Qadbak as a “wholly reputable orginisation”. This did not quell doubts, as the FIA were understood to have been pessimistic towards Qadbak’s entry. This showed when the FIA stalled on granting them a spot on the 2010 grid.

Eventually, due to doubts about their spot on the 2010 grid and investor funding issues, Qadbak pulled out of the buying of BMW, instead allowing Sauber to take over. Only a few days later, the FIA granted a place to the Sauber team. Their secrecy, which surely must have helped them hugely in the past, backfired on them, as an apparent lack of transparency cost them their grid spot.

There is no doubt that Qadbak will simply shift attention to Notts County, but their attempted foray into F1 has raised many difficult questions. In my opinion, their departure is a relief to many.

Sauber secures 13th 2010 F1 slot

Peter SauberThe FIA has announced that Sauber has been granted an entry into the 2010 F1 season, which ends months of speculation about the team.

The original plan, to sell the BMW team to Qadbak, proved problematic, when doubts began to spread regarding the investors behind Qadbak. However, Toyota’s departure meant that there was a grid spot available for Sauber.

The statement from the FIA is as follows:

“The FIA has written to inform BMW Sauber AG that their application for an entry in the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship has been successful.  Subject to their signing the Concorde Agreement, BMW Sauber will be awarded the 13th entry in the Championship, taking the place of the departing Toyota team.

The FIA has worked closely with the Commercial Rights Holder and the teams involved over recent weeks and is grateful for their support in achieving the best outcome for the sport.

An updated Formula One entry list will be published in due course.”

Interview with Peter Sauber

Peter Sauber

On Friday, it was announced that Peter Sauber was to buy his F1 team back off BMW. Following their departure, Sauber is now back in control, to many peoples’ surprise. Here, in an interview with formula1.com, he talks about the new Ferrari powered C29:

Q: Peter, what does the agreement with BMW really mean? Is it true to say that both parties wouldn’t have reached an agreement if there hadn’t been strong signals that the team had a slot on the 2010 grid…
Peter Sauber:
This agreement means that the future of the team and the location in Hinwil are secured. I am very relieved about that development. It would have been a crying shame had one of the best Formula One factories closed down. Regarding the slot on the grid I am very confident that we will be given a final confirmation very shortly.

Q: Do you expect the confirmation to come during next month’s FIA meeting in Monaco?
PS:
I am pretty confident that there will be a decision before that date.

Q: Did you feel obligated to keep the team alive?
PS:
I was strongly focused on that topic before I made the decision to acquire the team. Now the responsibility rests solely on my shoulders, but be sure that I will do everything in my power to secure a positive future for the team.

Q: How have you got the finances in place? Will Qadbak, the investment group that had planned the original deal with BMW, get involved now? Or do you envisage something similar to what happened between Honda and Brawn last year?
PS:
I have obtained the financial resources for the acquisition by myself. No other backers are involved.

Q: There was always an air of mystery surrounding Qadbak, with some suggesting the name was a composition of the initials of Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain. Can you shed a bit more light on it now?
PS:
I have not made any comments on Qadbak in the last two months and I want to keep it that way.

Q: You faced a difficult task to reduce the number of staff by around 130 to reach the agreed headcount of 250. The Hinwil workforce was a perfectly functioning unit. How have you tried to avoid slumps in quality?
PS:
That was indeed a very painful procedure. In my 40-year career as an entrepreneur I have never before had to lay off staff on financial grounds. All departments were equally affected by the cutbacks and there is a hope that no quality issues will arise. Regarding performance, we will try to compensate for the lower headcount through efficiency.

Q: You could benefit from Toyota’s withdrawal. Without it, would you have to have waited for one of the new entrants to falter?
PS:
The FIA had already promised us the 14th slot on the grid. Under that circumstance it would have been our obligation to persuade the one team that had voted against us to accept our entry.

Q: From your position as a minority stakeholder you have been propelled back into the team principal’s role…
PS:
It was truly never my desire to return to the pit wall. But once I decide for myself to get involved with something, then I am fully committed and do it with all my passion.

Q: It seems as though the development of the 2010 car has not been affected by BMW’s withdrawal. What is the state of affairs?
PS:
Our 2010 car is perfectly on schedule. The development and fabrication have been unaffected by the situation. Having been able to proceed with uninterrupted development was also possible thanks to excellent cooperation with Ferrari, who submitted all the relevant data very early. Regarding the performance of the C29 we are all very confident. Two months before the first tests, we have already reached a very good basis for further development.

Q: So after four years of racing a BMW engine, you’re back using a Ferrari engine…
PS:
That was one of the fixtures very early on. Shortly after BMW announced its withdrawal at the end of July I talked to (Ferrari chairman) Luca di Montezemolo and in a very short time – and without any bureaucracy – we received an okay. We will use a Ferrari engine and drive train.

Q: How about the driver line-up? Is the market for good drivers already swept clean?
PS:
No, definitely not. And we have two very attractive cockpits to offer.

Q: How is your schedule looking for the coming weeks?
PS:
On my personal list there are two priorities – the slot on the grid and the Concorde Agreement. Then I will look for drivers. My guess is that a lot of time will be consumed by the restructuring from 380 employees to 250.

BMW to sell F1 team back to Sauber

Peter Sauber

BMW have announced on friday that they have reached an agreement with Peter Sauber regarding the sale of the BMW Sauber F1 team. However, the sale is subject to the team being granted a slot for the 2010 season. This means that the planned sale to Qadbak Investment Ltd. will not be completed.

As part of the agreement, personnel will be cut from 388 to 250 employees. Also, because of the restructuring of the team, further redundancies cannot be ruled out in the future.

BMW had previously bought the team from Sauber in 2005, who had founded the team in 1993.

“I am very relieved that we have found this solution,” said Peter Sauber. “It means we can keep the Hinwil location and the majority of workplaces. I am convinced that the new team has a very good future in Formula One, whose current transformation with new framework conditions will benefit the private teams. Our staff here are highly competent and motivated, and I look forward to taking on this new challenge together with them. I would like to thank BMW for four shared years that have in the main been very successful.”

Dr Klaus Draeger, member of the board of management of BMW AG with responsibility for development, added: “We are very happy with this solution. This fulfils the most important requirement for a successful future for the team. Our relationship with Peter Sauber has always been excellent and marked by absolute respect. We would like to express our thanks to Peter Sauber and the whole team for the excellent cooperation during the recent four years.”

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