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BMW Sauber to bring major upgrade to Singapore 18 Sep 2009

Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1.09.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monza, Italy, Saturday, 12 September 2009 Willy Rampf (SUI) BMW Sauber Technical Director.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 17 March 2007 Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1.09.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monza, Italy, Friday, 11 September 2009 BMW Motorsport director Dr Mario Theissen watches the action from the pit wall, 2009 British Grand Prix

This season may not have gone quite to plan for 2008 championship contenders BMW Sauber, but the team have responded to the F1.08’s inherent lack of pace with an aggressive development programme.

With just four races left, and BMW’s impending withdrawal to contend with, the team would be forgiven for refocusing attentions on 2010, but at next weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix they will introduce their most comprehensive upgrade since August’s European Grand Prix, which they hope will bring a much-needed boost.

“Following the last major update in Valencia, we will arrive in Singapore with another far-reaching development package,” explained the team’s head of engineering Willy Rampf. “From an aerodynamics point of view, this comprises a new front wing, more deeply undercut sidepods, a further developed double diffuser and a modified rear wing. Added to which, the car also has a totally new gearbox. So, all in all, we are expecting to take another step forward here."

Even with this extensive upgrade, however, the team may yet hit a snag. At the last race in Monza both Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld’s cars succumbed almost simultaneously to engine failures during the second phase of qualifying. A post-event investigation found that the malfunctions were caused by valve problems, and both Kubica and Heidfeld now face a shortage of usable engines.

“It means we can't use either of the engines again,” explained BMW Motorsport director Mario Theissen. “Both drivers ran their engines from Spa in Sunday's race at Monza, which leaves them with one more new engine each and several used ones for the remainder of the season. The key question will now be whether these will be enough. If not, we will be forced to use a ninth engine and take a ten-place grid penalty as a result."

BMW Sauber are currently seventh in the constructors’ championship, with the same points’ tally (20) as fellow manufacturer team Renault, 10.5 adrift of Williams in sixth.