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BMW Sauber Prepares For Spanish Grand Prix

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  BMW-Sauber, Spanish Grand Prix

BMW Sauber Prepares For Spanish Grand Prix

Anthony Fontanelle
May 15, 2007

This weekend, the fourth round of the 2007 Formula One season will culminate at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain. The 2007 Spanish Grand Prix is on its way and teams and drivers are getting ready for the race on the 13th of this month. The practice session for the said race is already over and the result shows how strong the team Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is.

During the first practice session, F1 newcomer Lewis Hamilton who is driving for McLaren came in first juts ahead of teammate Fernando Alonso. During the second practice session, Alonso, racing in his home country finished first while Hamilton settled for fifth.

While McLaren is expected to once again show good performance for the race tomorrow, team BMW Sauber looks struggling with Robert Kubica placed fourth in the first practice session and did not make the top ten during the second session. BMW Sauber’s other driver, Nick Heidfeld, did not make the top ten during the first practice session and only managed an eight place after the second practice session.

Recently, Heidfeld talked about his performance during the tests. “All the teams have used the time leading up to the first race of the European season for development work,” says the German driver. “The test in Barcelona was also important, although the weather was pretty poor. The extensive testing carried out here means that all the drivers know the track like the back of their hand.”

The Swiss-based F1 driver talked about the circuit they will be racing on come race day. “It's a fast circuit and has some nice corners. The fact that this is now the home GP for the world champion has made it much more attractive. Additional grandstands were built for the 2006 race, and they filled up as well. Racing in this kind of atmosphere is great for all the drivers, not only Fernando. The track layout has been modified - the new section is less exciting, but safer. Now I'm hoping for another good result for my 30th birthday,” he shares.

Recently, the track was revised to encourage overtaking which will make the race more exciting. To protect the drivers from injuries and crashes, the track is made safer to complement the safety features of F1 cars including their brakes and protective bodies.

Heidfeld’s teammate, the Polish Robert Kubica, is clearly excited on the chance to once again race in a European track. “I'm looking forward to getting started in Europe again and am aiming to earn myself a few more points in the coming weeks,” he says. Like Heidfeld, Kubica also thinks that the revision of the track affects every team. “Like all the Formula One teams we know the Barcelona track very well thanks to all the testing we do here. However, the circuit has been changed since last year,” he continues.

The driver claiming the distinction to become the first Polish to drive for a Formula One team has these thoughts about the revisions and how his team can adapt to it: “The last two corners are not as fast as they used to be, and that will affect car set-up. We have done some more testing in Barcelona in the lead-up to this year's race. Here, it was important to go the right way and find the ideal balance for the car. We have a lot of data at our disposal and I think we can be quick from the start.”

Sharing Heidfeld’s view of the newly revised track, Kubica said: “I like the track, but I'm afraid that the new corners have taken away some of its charm. Fast corners with high downforce are a real treat in a Formula One car. But now the two high-speed corners have been replaced by a tight chicane, where you are only doing 60 or 70 km/h. We used to hit 260 km/h through that part of the track. This change to the track means less fun, but greater safety.”

Helping these two drivers get the bets out of their cars is Technical Director Willy Rampf. The change made to the track is one of the factors that Rampf is considering concerning his duty. “The modifications to the last two corners have significantly decreased the speed of the cars through this section of the circuit, and this has somewhat reduced the previously very high loads on the left front tire,” he said. This information is just one of the many data that the team has to take into consideration in planning their strategy for the race. Rampf is visibly certain that they will have a good race. “In testing we tried out various new aerodynamics and chassis components, as well as modifications to the car's electronics - and these have yielded very promising results. I'm, therefore, approaching the race in confident mood,” he said.

Indeed, the team should have a strong showing in the race as Toyota has set their eyes on the third spot that BMW occupies as of the moment. Currently, team BMW Sauber has 18 points to their credit. Meanwhile, Nick Heidfeld is ranked number five in the driver’s championship with 15 points. Robert Kubica, on the other hand, is ranked eighth with 3 points after three races.

Source:  Amazines.com

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