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The 2007 Team by Team Preview - part two 12 Mar 2007

Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1.07 Formula One Testing, Day Three, Jerez, Spain, 8 February 2007. World © Bumstead/Sutton Alex Wurz (AUT) Williams FW29. Formula One Testing, Barcelona, Spain, Day Two, 13 February 2007. World © Hartley/Sutton Ralf Schumacher (GER), Toyota. F1 Testing, Day Five, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, Wednesday, 28 February 2007.  World © Patching/Sutton David Coulthard (GBR) Red Bull Racing RB3 Formula One Testing, Day One, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 22 February 2007. World © Patching/Sutton Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota TF107. F1 Testing, Day Three, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, Friday, 24 February 2007. World © Hartley/Sutton

BMW Sauber
9 Nick Heidfeld, 10 Robert Kubica
Testers: Sebastian Vettel, Timo Glock

Testing has revealed BMW Sauber to be the dark horses of 2007. The new F1.07 was born out of the state-of-the-art wind tunnel that the far-sighted Peter Sauber commissioned in Hinwil long before selling his team to the Munich manufacturer, and those in the know point to some clever aerodynamic features as the secret of the serious pace the car has shown all through the winter.

In 2006 it’s fair to say that team principal Dr Mario Theissen delivered more than was expected, including two podiums. Now he says podiums are the aim once again, though drivers Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica have better things in mind.

Can BMW break through and win races? It would be extraordinary if they do, and also welcome. More likely, however, would be for the team to fight Honda all the way for fourth place overall.

Toyota
11 Ralf Schumacher, 12 Jarno Trulli
Testers: Franck Montagny

2007 is without question the most critical year in Toyota’s thus-far troubled Formula One tenancy. It is the year in which they must get results, if the board in Japan is surely not to start questioning their involvement. When you sell as many cars worldwide as Toyota do, spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year on Formula One racing may seem a drop in the ocean, but they aren’t in the game merely to make up the numbers. Last year they took a step backwards after parting with Mike Gascoyne, and so far the signs are that they have not done anything like enough to make up the lost ground, let alone move ahead.

Drivers Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli continue. Both have positive points, both have negative. Unless they can score points regularly, many critics argue it is unlikely the pairing will continue beyond this season.

Red Bull
14 David Coulthard, 15 Mark Webber
Testers: Robert Doornbos, Michael Ammermuller

Here is another team facing their most crucial year to date. Red Bull Racing got through a bruising second season, and now have the long-awaited Adrian Newey-penned RB3 and Renault RS27 power with which to challenge for a place in the top four. Can it deliver the goods, or will the disappointment of failure to do so be enough to trigger implosion?

While Vitantonio Liuzzi and Scott Speed down at Toro Rosso have been put on their mettle to produce results in a similar car, everyone at Red Bull is feeling the same way. The RB3 must work and, if they are to keep progressing, podiums must feature regularly.

David Coulthard is adamant despite some weak races in 2006 that he can do the job in the right car, while this is Mark Webber’s chance to prove once and for all that he is a serious top-liner. Watch this team closely.

Williams
16 Nico Rosberg, 17 Alex Wurz
Testers: Narain Karthikeyan, Kazuki Nakajima

Are we witnessing the slow decline of the once-great Williams team into a Tyrrell role? Or will they bounce back and embarrass the works Toyota team with their similarly-powered FW29? Those are the key questions surrounding one of the most popular teams in the pit lane, still headed by those archetypal racers Sir Frank Williams and Patrick Head.

There has been a lot of reshuffling of personnel over the winter, with Adam Parr coming in to replace Chris Chapple as CEO, Jon Tomlinson coming in to head the aero department from Renault and Amit Chakraborty joining from McLaren, John Russell returning to get the reliability problems of 2006 sorted, and Ed Wood stepping in as chief designer, all to give technical director Sam Michael stronger back-up. AT&T and Lenovo have joined RBS as sponsors.

The results have been promising in testing, but the jury is still out on whether the driver pairing of sophomore Nico Rosberg and veteran Alex Wurz (said by some to be the ‘Michael Schumacher of testing’ and returning to a full-time race seat for the first time since 2000 at Benetton) is strong enough to get the job done.