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BMW Sauber F1.06 an ‘all-new concept’ 17 Jan 2006

The new BMW Sauber F1.06. BMW Sauber Launch, Valencia, Spain, 17 January 2006. World © Capilitan/Sutton

The shorter and more fuel-efficient V8 powerplants decreed by the 2006 Formula One regulations have exerted a decisive influence on the architecture of BMW Sauber’s new F1.06 car.

"For the designers this means more scope in the design of the car thanks to the more compact engine," explained technical director Willy Rampf.

The lower tank capacity of the F1.06 over its Sauber predecessor impacted on both the design of the monocoque and the position of the engine. The shorter powerplant has also allowed the engineers to extend the titanium casing of the 7-speed transmission, which favoured the construction of a decidedly slimline rear end.

The BMW Sauber engineers turned their focus primarily on aerodynamics, where it was not only a question of optimum downforce but enhanced efficiency as well. The construction, arrangement and design of all sub-assemblies and components followed this premise.

The front section of the new car came in for some striking treatment. The chassis has been significantly lowered at the front, which means the lower wishbones are no longer attached below the monocoque but directly to the side of the chassis. The nose of the car has also been lowered further to the ground and features an underside that curves slightly upwards. The front wing has been adjusted to the other changes through numerous optimisation measures. The aim of all these measures has been to improve the air flow to the underbody and the sidepods.

The reduced cooling requirement of the V8 engine allows not only for more compact radiators but for smaller apertures in the sidepods as well, which also benefits the car's aerodynamics. The same goes for the rollover bar with its integral air intake, which has been reduced in size as a result of the engine's lower air throughput. Complex finite-element calculations, furthermore, have enabled a significant reduction in the weight of the rollover bar while at the same time complying with stringent safety requirements.

A completely new feature on the BMW Sauber F1.06 is the design of the front and rear suspension. On the front axle, the layout is significantly determined by the higher attachment points of the lower wishbones, as dictated by efficient aerodynamics. The rear axle is similarly a new construction. At the heart of the deliberations here, however, were modified kinematics to match the demands of the Michelin tyres. Lowering the front section, moreover, has made for a corresponding drop in the position of the pedals and the inboard front-axle components, along with a lower position for the driver's legs. All these factors help to bring down the car's centre of gravity.