BMW Aims Fault-Free Monaco Weekend
Topics: Monaco Grand Prix, BMW-Sauber
May 22, 2007
After the ordeals and trials of the much-concluded Spanish Grand Prix, BMW Sauber is aiming for a fault-free Monaco race. The team believes they have remedied the issues which caused Nick Heidfeld’s early retirement in Barcelona especially those which resulted to his bungled pit stop.
Although team mate Robert Kubica crossed the line fourth in Barcelona to garner five points, Heidfeld’s race ended on lap 46 after his F1.07’s gearbox failed. The German Formula One auto racing driver for the BMW Sauber had earlier suffered a near-disastrous pit stop, which saw him leave the pits with the tyre gun still connected to his right-front wheel and the wheel nut flying off into the path of a Toyota mechanic.
“We managed to get to the bottom of the gearbox problem in Barcelona before the race day was over, and corrective measures were already being applied during the test in Paul Ricard,” explained BMW Motorsport Director, Mario Theissen.
Theissen added, “We have also worked through Nick's botched-up pit stop and learnt the lessons for any future incidents. For us in Monte Carlo it's a case of notching up a fault-free weekend and further cementing our third place in the constructors' standings.”
At last week’s French test the BMW Sauber has looked promising around Paul Ricard’s 2D SC configuration, especially designed to imitate the twists and turns of Monaco. BMW Sauber covered over 250 laps of this shortened version of the track, with tester Timo Glock clocking the eighth-fastest time on Tuesday and Kubica finishing fourth on Wednesday.
The F1.07 has experienced extensive aerodynamic modifications for the high-downforce Monte Carlo race and will also feature a new front axle designed specifically to cope with the street circuit’s unusually tight corners. The team’s pool of engineers did not only focus on the BMW catalytic converter but also on crucial auto parts as well. Another plus for the German-Swiss team is that both cars will be fitted with fresh and powerful V8s. The engines are deemed a bonus for Monaco which is deemed as one of the most demanding circuits on lower rev range.
BMW Sauber is currently on the third place in the constructors’ standings on 23 points, 26 behind second-placed Ferrari, and 12 ahead of Renault, its nearest rival.
Another confident Formula One team is Toyota. The Japanese racing team is expecting a return to form in next weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix. After a disappointing start to the season, Toyota is hopeful that recent revisions to the TF107 will allow them to add to their current tally of just five points. The bunch of car revisions was already at the last round in Barcelona, where neither Ralf Schumacher nor Jarno Trulli finished.
“Our car has improved, even if that was not clear from my results in qualifying or the race, but we still have work to do and we will be pushing hard for a better result in Monaco,” said Schumacher. Trulli added, “We were strong in qualifying and it was particularly encouraging to see we had the same fuel strategy as the leading cars, so performance-wise we have made a step forward. If we can get back to the reliability we showed at the start of the season, Monaco should be a positive weekend for us.”
“The factors that determine performance in Monaco are completely different to all other races,” commented Pascal Vasselon, the team’s senior general chassis manager. “Engine power and aerodynamics are slightly less important in Monaco than elsewhere so you are left with tyres and drivers as the key factors.”
Vasselon added, “In Spain the new aero package worked well, it gave us two or three extra tenths as expected,” he added. “We were not able to demonstrate this clearly in the race but Jarno’s lap in qualifying showed we have made an improvement, especially when you consider we had a similar fuel strategy to the front cars. In Monaco we have to show this in the race and get back into the points.”
Separately, the weekend of the Monaco race will offer an extra logistical test for Formula One tyre suppliers Bridgestone. “You need as much grip as possible and teams will run their cars with a maximum downforce set-up,” explained Kees van de Grint, Bridgestone’s head of track engineering operations. “Traction is crucial with acceleration out of so many corners, but you have to be careful as understeer is not desirable with so much Armco about.”
Bridgestone will be bringing 2,200 Bridgestone Potenza Formula One tyres and 650 Bridgestone Potenza GP2 Series tyres to the event. The weight of the tyres brought for Formula One racing alone amounts to 22,000 kilogrammes. Additionally, there are eight fitting machines and eight balancing machines which are used to fit and balance the tyres to the rims delivered by the teams.
“In times of competition it was very difficult with the timetable the way it is in Monaco,” stressed van de Grint. “You would make your conclusions from running on the track on Thursday, but then the circuit could be very different when you next ran on it on Saturday. This year it is not so difficult, but this is one track which certainly rewards those drivers with experience and good judgement.”
He added, “Monaco is not as difficult as it could be in terms of logistics. It is a street circuit so of course it is different from operating out of a purpose built facility but we have a good position and everything seems to work well. Of course there is a greater distance between the motorhome and the fitting area than in other places, but the sacrifice of a longer walk is worth it when you are in a destination as fabulous as Monaco.”
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