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BMW Sauber debut the new F1.06 17 Jan 2006

(L to R): Jacques Villeneuve (CDN), Dr Mario Theissen (GER) BMW Motorsport Technical Director, Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1 Team, Willi Rampf (SUI) BMW Sauber Technical Director and Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1 Team. BMW Sauber Launch, Valencia, Spain, 17 January 2006. World ©  Capilitan/Sutton

BMW Sauber’s 2006 challenger got its official launch in Spain on Tuesday. The F1.06 was unveiled before more than 500 journalists and guests in the futuristic Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias building at Valencia.

The car is the team’s first since BMW’s takeover of Sauber, a deal which was announced last June and took full effect at the start of 2006. During that time the team have confirmed their driver line-up in Nick Heidfeld, Jacques Villeneuve and third man Robert Kubica, and been busy testing BMW’s new V8 engine in an interim Sauber chassis.

“We have worked hard over the last seven months,” declared BMW Motorsport Director, Professor Mario Theissen. “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 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.”

The design of the F1.06, which BMW Sauber describe as an ‘all-new concept’, is heavily influenced by its shorter and more fuel efficient V8 engine and features a ‘keel-less’ front suspension, a system also seen on the latest Toyota.

The car will get its first track outing on Tuesday afternoon at Valencia, where the team will continue an exclusive test until Thursday before moving on to Barcelona for next week’s multi-team session.