Rampf: BMW Sauber F1.08 was something 'very special' 07 Nov 2008
BMW Sauber enjoyed their best ever Formula One season in 2008, including their first Grand Prix win. Their radical F1.08 machine - and the man behind it, technical director Willy Rampf - played a large part in that success. Its narrow set-up window may have hampered the cars development later in the season, but its forward-thinking design philosophy helped the team to third place in the constructors championship. As he prepares to step into a new role for 2009, Rampf reflects on another year of major achievement for the German-Swiss squad
Q: Willy, whats your assessment of the BMW Sauber F1.08?
Willy Rampf: This car was something very special. It was not purely a further development; we opted for a very aggressive approach for the F1.08. This was very important given the goals for the season we had set ourselves, but clearly not without risk. Indeed, at the roll-out the car was still far from its full potential. What followed was a very tough, but also incredibly productive time for us - and by the start of the season we had the car very much on track. In Melbourne Robert (Kubica) was only a hair's breadth away from taking pole position.
Q: What was your reaction to the one-two finish in Canada?
WR: You just can't put it into words. When no other car and no other drivers are better than your two, you have reached your goal. And that applies not only to me, but to the whole team. You mustn't forget that many of the people in the team gave everything over a number of years for the independent Sauber team - without any prospect of getting right to the top on their own merits - and have been part of the BMW Sauber F1 Team from its launch. The one-two in Montreal had a big impact on us all, and not only on the Sunday - it had a sustained effect.
Q: Was it not possible to build on this success and step up another gear over the remainder of the season?
WR: Of course, this success raised expectations both within the team and from the outside. We developed several new parts which produced good results in the wind tunnel. When it came to their performance on the track, however, they did not deliver what they promised. Added to which, the optimum set-up window of the F1.08 was very small. It was not easy to adjust the individual parameters to stay within this window all the time. This was a learning experience, which we will utilise again for the 2009 season.
Q: As for 2009, how will technical responsibility be apportioned?
WR: I have responsibility for the F1.09 concept and, as Technical Coordinator, will also be at the helm for the team's race activities in 2009. The development process and construction of the new car is overseen by Managing Director Walter Riedl, who will continue to head up operations at the Hinwil plant and project management across both locations in 2009. It was important for me to cut down on my workload - this was a personal decision following a long time working flat-out.