BMW Sauber F1 Team steps out

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The BMW Sauber F1 Team steps out onto the Formula One stage. Just after nine o'clock this Tuesday morning in Valencia, Spain, the BMW Sauber F1.06 was unveiled before more than 500 journalists and guests in the futuristic Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias (CAC). At 13.00 hrs the first car of the BMW Sauber F1 Team will make its debut on the Circuito de la Comunitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo.

Also ready to launch into the new team’s maiden season in the FIA Formula One World Championship are BMW Sauber F1 Team drivers Nick Heidfeld (28, Germany), Jacques Villeneuve (34, Canada) and newcomer Robert Kubica (21, Poland), who takes on the mantle of test and substitute driver.

On the eve of the official media presentation, the team’s new look was already displayed during a major merchandising fashion show with Brazilian top model Alessandra Ambrosio and followed by a party in the CAC.

Test drives on the Valencia circuit will continue up to and including 19th January, during which time the track is reserved for the exclusive use of the BMW Sauber F1 Team. Between 23rd and 26th January the team will rub shoulders with the competition during testing in Barcelona.

Own team for the first time.

Dawn was just breaking on 22nd June 2005 when it was confirmed that BMW would be sending its own team into Formula One for the first time in 2006. A three-year contract with Nick Heidfeld was announced on 16th September and the team name was revealed on 14th November. Jacques Villeneuve was confirmed as the second driver on 1st December, and on the 20th Robert Kubica had been signed up as the team's test driver. Alongside this, the first test drives with an interim Sauber chassis and the BMW P86 engine were launched on 28th November. Since January 1st 2006, BMW has owned a majority stake in the Swiss Sauber Holding AG. In his function as BMW Motorsport Director, Professor Mario Theissen also directs the BMW Sauber F1 Team.

BMW Motorsport Director, Professor Mario Theissen "We have worked hard over the last seven months. We’ve driven forward the integration of the two locations, got an interim car up and running, signed up the drivers, concluded contracts with our major partners Petronas, Intel, Credit Suisse and O2 along with other sponsors, and negotiated 90 work contracts for new staff. That’s not bad as an interim progress report. But we are not under any illusions: we have a long road ahead of us.
2006 is a year of transition, and so would be premature to declare any sporting objectives. The main thing is that everything is pointing in the right direction."

According to Theissen, success can only be achieved with a fully integrated team and all-encompassing procedures: "In our first season we will mainly be gathering experience. In 2005, Sauber came eighth in the Constructors' World Championship. That is our starting point. From there we aim to work our way up as quickly as possible. You can’t do that overnight, needless to say. It requires patience and endurance. We have both." He goes on: "For the BMW Group, Formula One acts as a high-tech lab and a technology accelerator. With its dynamism, premium image, sporting challenges and demand for technical innovations, Formula One chimes in perfectly with BMW's brand values – including driving pleasure. And there’s no other sporting event that generates so much attention worldwide on such a regular basis."

The plans for expansion include boosting the workforce in Hinwil by more than 100 new staff, many of whom will be reinforcing the aerodynamics department. Theissen: "The wind tunnel is outstanding and we want to run it on a multiple-shift basis as soon as possible."

As for the expansion plans for new offices and development and production facilities, planning permission is expected in spring of 2006. In parallel with this, the networking of the two locations – Munich (responsible for powertrain and electronics) and Hinwil (chassis and race deployment) - is being driven forward along with an intensive development programme for 2007. By the end of that year all these measures will be fully implemented.

After 13 years in his role as Formula One team principal, Peter Sauber has retired from the operational side of the business. In Valencia he appeared for the first time in his new role as a consultant to the team.

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