New BMW Sauber steps out in Spain 16 Jan 2007
BMW Sauber became the latest team to launch their 2007 car on Tuesday as they unveiled the new F1.07 in Valencia. With it the team are targeting more podium finishes after their promising debut season.
"In 2006 we exceeded our own targets, said BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen. Now expectations are rising faster than the team can develop. That's the punishment for excelling yourself.
After BMWs takeover of Sauber back in 2005, the F1.07 is the first genuine BMW Sauber, having been jointly developed in Germany and Switzerland. New features include a shorter, raised nose; larger cooling intakes; a slimmed-down rear with a new diffuser; and a new quick-shift gearbox.
"2007 marks the second and final year of our development phase, added Theissen. Our aim is to make it onto the podium on our own merit. If the leading teams show any sign of weakness, we want to be ready to breach the gap. Victories on our own merit are not yet a realistic prospect for 2007. We are aiming for that in 2008. In 2009 we want to be in contention for the world championship title."
Present at the launch was BMW Saubers complete 2007 driver line-up - racers Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica and test drivers Sebastian Vettel and Timo Glock. Heidfeld, the teams highest scorer last season, welcomed the new car, but added a note of caution for those predicting great things for the team this season.
"After our good maiden season we now have to continue along our set path, he said. But one can't expect too much, because the higher you go, the more rarefied the atmosphere. In our first year we collected 36 points and came fifth in the world championship. But the fourth-placed team had 86 points. That's worlds apart."
For Kubica, 2007 will mark his first full season of Formula One racing, the young Pole having stepped in to replace Jacques Villeneuve midway through the teams 2006 campaign.
"I learnt a lot in 2006," said Kubica. "And I want to put it into practice in 2007 and learn more. To stand on the podium for the first time after a Formula One race was an incredible experience. I want more of it."
BMW Sauber also revealed that staff levels at the team will continue to expand. In 2007, numbers at their Swiss base at Hinwil will grow to 430, many housed in a new building complex. This, along with 300 people working at Munich in Germany, will then constitute the teams full complement of staff.
Following the launch ceremony, the F1.07 made its test debut with a shakedown run around the Valencia circuit. Nick Heidfeld was the man at the wheel.