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BMW Sauber F1 was a Formula One team based in Hinwilmarker, Switzerlandmarker and Munichmarker, Germanymarker. The team was formed at the end of 2005 as a result of a takeover of the existing Sauber Formula One team by German car manufacturer BMW after their partnership with Williams. The team scored two podium finishes and came fifth in 2006, its first season in Formula One. This was followed by a second place in 2007 after the McLaren team had been excluded from the championship. Polishmarker driver Robert Kubica scored the team its first Grand Prix victory at the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix.

On 29 July 2009, BMW announced that it would be withdrawing from Formula One at the end of the 2009 season. The team cited "current developments in motorsport" as the reason for their decision. With the future of the team uncertain, the FIA awarded their place for the 2010 season to the new Lotus F1 Team, whilst giving them 14th slot, effectively making them first reserve should a position open up or the championship be extended to 14 teams. On 15 September 2009 it was announced that the team had signed an agreement with QADBAK Investments Limited concerning a future purchase.. BMW bowed out of F1 at the 2009 Abu Dhabi race clinching 6th place in the constructors standing from Williams, Nick Heidfeld scored the team's last points with a 5th placing at the same race.

As of November 18, 2009, BMW is still the official owner of BMW Sauber and continues to pay the salary for the approximately 400 employees of the team. On November 22, Swiss newspaper SonntagsZeitung revealed that Qadbak's attempt to purchase the team had failed as it did not have the necessary funds. Qadbak turned out to be a shell company with no assets and no investors behind it.

BMW announced on November 27, 2009 that an agreement has been reached to sell its 80% stake to Peter Sauber. The deal is contingent on the team obtaining the 13th grid slot in the 2010 World Championship. Another condition of the deal requires personnel cuts from 388 to around 250 employees.

Origins

Peter Sauber built his first car in 1970, named the Sauber C1, which competed and won that year's Swissmarker Hillclimb event. Further hillclimb events soon followed before turning his attention to sports car racing. The team enjoyed some success during the 1970s and 1980s. In 1989, it became the Mercedes-Benz works team, winning the 24 Hours of Le Mansmarker in that year as well as the World Sportscar Championship, which they also won a year later.

The Swiss team entered Formula One in the season, with engines supplied by Mercedes. The partnership with the Germanmarker manufacturer lasted until when the marque switched over to the McLarenmarker team. The Sauber team switched to Ford engines for 1995 and 1996 and then to Ferrari engines, badged as Petronas, from to . Sauber never achieved a race win, pole position or fastest lap during its existence in Grand Prix racing although, with drivers Kimi Räikkönen and Nick Heidfeld, the team enjoyed their most successful season in , where they finished fourth in the Constructors' Championship.

BMW first competed in single seater racecars by supplying engines in the Formula Two category before moving up to Formula One with the Brabham team in which some resulted in a Drivers' Championship crown for Brazilianmarker Nelson Piquet a year later. The manufacturer stayed in F1 until , the rights of their engines were given to Megatron who continued to use them until . However, twelve years later the manufacturer made a reappearance with another Britishmarker team Williams. Although the partnership picked up a number of results, they could not find a World Title in either Driver or Constructors' Championships. During 2005 BMW ended its engine supply agreement with the Grove based team and bought Sauber. Peter Sauber remained with the team as a consultant.

BMW Sauber F1

2006



For the 2006 season BMW Sauber signed Nick Heidfeld from Williams to be their lead driver, while 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve had his existing Sauber contract confirmed. Pole Robert Kubica was signed as the team's third driver. The team continued to use Sauber's facilities, mostly for chassis construction and wind tunnel testing, while BMW's headquarters in Munich were responsible for building the new P86 V8 engine.

Former Sauber title sponsor Petronas renewed their contract with the new team, as a simple team sponsor, as did Credit Suisse. For the new season BMW Sauber announced a technical partnership with Intelmarker, claiming that it will eventually lead to technological improvements available on BMW road cars.

The new livery, unveiled in Valencia on 17 January 2006, was the traditional BMW blue and white with a hint of red.

Jacques Villeneuve scored the team's first points with a seventh place finish at the 2006 Malaysian Grand Prix, after Heidfeld retired from fifth with an engine failure late in the race. Over the first two thirds of the season the drivers picked up points with a succession of seventh and eighth place finishes.

The team ran a radical "twin towers" aero enhancement on the front of the car for the race in Magny-Cours, France, which was meant to direct airflow to the rear and thus improve performance. This unconventional add-on was promptly banned by the FIA as it was adjudged to impede the drivers' vision and thus compromise safety.

Heidfeld scored the team's first podium at the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix from 10th on the grid. Kubica stood in for Villeneuve, BMW stating that Villeneuve could not drive due to medical complications following his accident at the German Grand Prix. Kubica finished seventh, although he was later disqualified for an underweight car. After the Hungarian Grand Prix, BMW announced that Kubica would complete the season for the Swiss team, spelling the end of former world champion Villeneuve's F1 career.

Kubica scored BMW Sauber's second podium of the season at the Italian Grand Prix, after running in third place for most of the race and leading briefly during the first round of pit stops. Heidfeld struggled in the race and barely earned a point by finishing eighth. The team's fifth place in the constructor's championship was cemented by Heidfeld's two further points at the 2006 Chinese Grand Prix, and Toyota's early double retirement from the 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix.

2007



On 19 October 2006, it was announced that Robert Kubica would partner Nick Heidfeld for the 2007 Formula One season with Sebastian Vettel taking the test and reserve driver role. On 21 December, it was announced that Timo Glock had been signed as the team's second test driver. The team launched their 2007 car, the F1.07, on January 16, 2007.

The new car showed promising form throughout the winter testing, topping the times sheets on occasions. However, team principal Mario Theissen declared some reliability concerns before the season's opening race in Melbourne. Robert Kubica duly retired from 4th place mid-race with gearbox trouble, but Nick Heidfeld proved their pace in winter testing was no fluke as he raced to 4th place. Heidfeld has continued this success with two more 4th places in Malaysia and Bahrain respectively. Kubica finished 6th in Bahrain after retiring in Australia and mechanical trouble in Malaysia.

Their performance thus far had been such that many were saying a race win was likely after firmly establishing themselves as the best team behind championship leaders Ferrari and McLarenmarker. Although the perceived performance gap between the two leaders and BMW Sauber was a fair amount, it was still less than that between BMW Sauber and the teams behind them.

The Canadian Grand Prix brought mixed fortunes for the team. While Nick Heidfeld scored a 2nd place finish, Robert Kubica suffered a huge crash that resulted in a long safety car period. The media was initially told Kubica had broken his leg, but it later proved that he had escaped with only a sprained ankle and concussion.

Sebastian Vettel took his place in the US Grand Prix, finishing in 8th place and therefore becoming the youngest driver to score a Formula One World Championship point. After the European GP, however, it was announced by Scuderia Toro Rosso that Vettel would take the second driver seat from Scott Speed.

2008



On August 21, 2007, BMW confirmed its driver line-up of Heidfeld and Kubica for the season.Their 2008 car, the F1.08 was officially launched in Munichmarker at BMW Welt on January 14, 2008. It made its track debut at Valencia the next day, with Robert Kubica driving.

The BMW Sauber team has also introduced a new scheme for the team as a whole, every individual will get "fit for pole", from the boss to the cleaners, meaning that the team will be in optimum fitness for the 2008 season. Team principal, Mario Theissen boldly targeted the young team's first Formula 1 victory for 2008, a bench-mark many outside the organization felt was overly ambitious.

BMW Sauber started the season well with Kubica narrowly missing out on pole after a mistake in his main qualifying lap in Melbourne. He later retired after being hit by Kazuki Nakajima but Heidfeld finished second. Kubica took second in Malaysiamarker, with Heidfeld in 6th setting the fastest lap of the race. The team's points total of 11 was their largest score up to that time. In Bahrainmarker, Kubica scored his and the team's first ever pole position, beating Felipe Massa by just under three hundredths of a second. The team went on to finish 3rd and 4th in the race, equalling their highest round points total and promoting them to first place in the constructors' championship for the first time.

The team also attained a second place finish in the Monaco Grand Prix with Robert Kubica, beating both Ferraris and only trailing the McLarenmarker of Lewis Hamilton by three seconds.

BMW Sauber's first race victory came in the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix, the team achieving a one-two finish with Robert Kubica's first race win and Nick Heidfeld taking second place. The victory came after Lewis Hamilton collided with Kimi Räikkönen in the pitlane, ending the race for both drivers. Kubica was on a different refueling strategy from Heidfeld, who also briefly led the race before securing the one-two finish for BMW Sauber in comfortable fashion.

After the team's breakthrough win, development was switched to the 2009 season where new regulations come into play. This greatly annoyed Kubica, (who was leading the championship after the Canadian Grand Prix), as he felt they could have had a realistic chance of taking at least one title. The lack of development was reflected with a drop of form throughout the second half of the season, causing BMW to be outpaced by Renault, Toyota and even Toro Rosso (who started the season as one of the slowest teams) by the end of the season. Despite this, Kubica remained with an outside chance of taking the drivers championship until the Chinese Grand Prix, the 17th round out of 18.

In October the team confirmed that they would stick with Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld as their drivers for the Season.

2009

Although BMW Sauber targeted the season as the year they would challenge for the title, their start to the season has been a disappointment. Kubica was in 3rd place in the opening round, when he collided with Vettel while battling for 2nd place and was forced to retire. Heidfeld then secured the team's first podium of the year in Malaysia, but after 6 races BMW Sauber have collected a mere 6 points, and currently lie 8th in the Constructors' Championship out of 10 teams. A raft of upgrades was set for Turkey, including an improved regenerative braking system (KERS) and a double deck diffuser. While the new diffuser was implemented, the KERS could not be made to fit the new car and both drivers raced without the device. After the qualifying session for the British Grand Prix Mario Theissen announced that the team had decided to halt further development KERS; of which BMW had been one of the strongest proponents, and focus instead on improving the car's aerodynamics. This left Ferrari and McLaren as the only remaining users of the KERS system. In the European Grand Prix at Valencia Robert Kubica scored the team's first points since the race in Turkey.

Following a meeting of the BMW board on July 28, the company held at press conference the following morning in which it confirmed the team's withdrawal from Formula One at the end of 2009. Chairman Dr Norbert Reithofer described the decision as a strategic one. The Formula One Teams Association released a statement in response pledging its support to help the team remain in F1.

On 15 September 2009 it was announced that BMW Sauber had secured a buyer, Qadbak Investments Limited which said to represent European and Middle Eastern interests. However Lotus had been given the 13th and final slot in the 2010 Championship. The team were awarded what was termed a 14th entry, which hinges either on another team dropping out or all the other teams agreeing to allow 28 cars to enter the 2010 Championship. With the withdrawal of Toyota it looks unlikely that 14 teams would make the grid in 2010 if allowed. The team will use Ferrarimarker engines in if they are allowed to race.

On November 27, 2009 it was announced that Peter Sauber would repurchase the team conditional upon the team receiving a FIA entry for the 2010 season.

Sponsors

Petronas is the premier partner for BMW Sauber team. Petronas, a previous title sponsor renewed their contract with Sauber when BMW bought the Swissmarker team. Petronas's Syntium brand is advertised and clearly visible on the livery of the F1.08. In December 2005, Intel Corporationmarker and the BMW Group entered into a comprehensive agreement that includes technology, co-marketing and Intel’s sponsorship of the BMW Sauber F1 Team.

Official partners include Credit Suisse, T-Systems, Dell & Puma AG. Credit Suisse and the BMW Sauber F1 Team have been partners since 2006. The Credit Suisse company logo appears on the cars, helmets, suits, drivers’ caps, pit backdrops and trucks. However Credit Suisse's contract with BMW Sauber was terminated for the 2009 season. Dell supports the BMW Sauber F1 Team with optimised IT equipment at their facilities in Munichmarker and Hinwil and at all race tracks.The logo of the Swiss watch maker Certina is displayed on the team's lollipop used during pitstops, and the team also has the chemical giant DuPont as sponsor.

For 2009, the team announced a partnership with foreign exchange company FxPro to show their logo on the front wing and side mirrors and on the drivers' helmets and overalls plus the team's clothing, trucks and equipment.

Complete Formula One results

(key) (results in bold indicate pole position; results in italics indicate fastest lap)
Year Chassis Engine Tyres Drivers 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Points WCC
2006 BMW Sauber F1.06 BMW P86 V8 BHR MAL AUS SMR EUR ESP MON GBR CAN USA FRA GER HUN TURmarker ITA CHN JPN BRA 36 5th
Nick Heidfeld 12 Ret 4 13 10 8 7 7 7 Ret 8 Ret 3 14 8 7 8 Ret
Jacques Villeneuve Ret 7 6 12 8 12 14 8 Ret Ret 11 Ret Inj
Robert Kubica TD TD TD TD TD TD TD TD TD TD TD TD DSQ 12 3 13 9 9
Sebastian Vettel TD TD TD TD TD
2007 BMW Sauber F1.07 BMW P86/7 V8 AUS MAL BHR ESPmarker MON CAN USA FRA GBR EUR HUN TURmarker ITA BEL JPN CHN BRA 101 2nd
Nick Heidfeld 4 4 4 Ret 6 2 Ret 5 6 6 3 4 4 5 14 7 6
Robert Kubica Ret 18 6 4 5 Ret Inj 4 4 7 5 8 5 9 7 Ret 5
Sebastian Vettel TD TD 8
2008 BMW Sauber F1.08 BMW P86/8 V8 AUS MALmarker BHRmarker ESPmarker TURmarker MON CAN FRA GBR GER HUN EUR BEL ITA SIN JPN CHN BRA 135 3rd
Nick Heidfeld 2 6 4 9 5 14 2 13 2 4 10 9 2 5 6 9 5 10
Robert Kubica Ret 2 3 4 4 2 1 5 Ret 7 8 3 6 3 11 2 6 11
BMW Sauber F1.09 BMW P86/9 V8 AUS MAL CHN BHR ESP MON TUR GBR GER HUN EUR BEL ITA SIN JPN BRA ABU 36 6th
Robert Kubica 15 Ret 13 18 11 Ret 7 13 14 13 8 4 Ret 8 9 2 10
Nick Heidfeld 10 2‡ 12 19 7 11 11 15 10 11 11 5 7 Ret 6 Ret 5


‡ Half points awarded as less than 75% of race distance was completed

References

Journals



Citations

  1. Lotus name returns to F1
  2. Qadbak(Qatar/Abu Dhabi/Bahrain/Kuwait) buy BMW F1 Team
  3. 20 Minuten, 2009-11-18
  4. SonntagsZeitung, 2009-11-22
  5. Formula1.com, 2009-11-27
  6. Sauber www.grandprix.com Retrieved 2 February 2007
  7. BMW www.grandprix.comRetrieved 2 February 2007.
  8. 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix f1.warnerleach.co.uk Retrieved 2 February 2007.
  9. http://www.formula1.com/news/5984.html - Interview with Mario Thiessen.
  10. Kubica and Heidfeld stay with BMW BBC Sport Retrieved 8 October 2008
  11. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/8256739.stm BMW F1 team secures Swiss buyer
  12. http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/78656 BMW expects team to race in 2010


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