BMW buys Sauber to form own team
Sauber have become the latest team to be owned by a car maker
German car manufacturer BMW has bought the Swiss Formula One team Sauber.
BMW said its decision to run its own team in the world championship for the first time from 2006 was its best chance of achieving success in F1.
BMW said it would be happy to continue supplying engines to Williams, with whom it has a deal until 2009.
"We want to discuss the future options with Williams in order to find the right way forward for both sides," said BMW board member Burkhard Goeschel.
The relationship between Williams and BMW, which started promisingly in 2000, has deteriorated in recent months.
"Regrettably, sadly, the relationship has been just too hostile for too long," said team boss Frank Williams on 10 June.
Success can only be achieved with a fully-integrated team
BMW motorsport director
"It makes life very difficult. It does not compare well with (previous) Renault or Honda relationships, which we regret."
Williams director of engineering Patrick Head and BMW director of motor sport Mario Theissen criticised each other in the media before the Canadian Grand Prix.
Williams said they had no comment on the Sauber deal.
The name of the team, the driver line-up and identity of key personnel will be resolved by 1 January 2006, when BMW officially takes control.
Theissen, who describes BMW's investment as "a co-operation", revealed the company had no intention of taking over Sauber before talks over an engine supply for next season began.
He said: "It was a long-term process. Since last season we set down and considered what we could do.
"Success can only be achieved with a fully-integrated team.
1993: Peter Sauber forms his F1 team using a car built in Switzerland and a Mercedes engine
1995: Ford replace Mercedes as engine suppliers.
Heinz-Harald Frentzen scores Sauber's first podium with third place in Italy
1996: Johnny Herbert joins Frentzen and takes third in Monaco
1997: Malaysian oil giant Petronas join the team as principal sponsor
2001: Sauber sign Kimi Raikkonen and finish with a career-best fourth in the constructors' championship
2005: June 22 - BMW buy into Sauber
"At the beginning of year we started talks with Sauber, at the time we were talking about engine supply next year.
"We found common ground. We believe Sauber offers a good basis and foundation to further develop the engines.
"We have decided to co-operate with Sauber as BMW. We are going to be in charge of the entire package.
"It will be a fully-integrated team, a team distributed among two locations, BMW in Munich and we will not only preserve the Hinwil location but we will also expand it."
Outgoing team boss Peter Sauber said: "I am going to give up operative management of this company. I will give advice to BMW and my team.
"For Sauber, the partnership with BMW is an ideal solution as it supports the two goals which have always been paramount for me.
"Firstly, to offer the team the possibility of improving their sporting performance and secondly, to safeguard the site at Hinwil and the jobs of today's 300-strong workforce.
"The partnership with BMW guarantees continuity. I know it will give the workforce a very good outlook."
Sauber's decision means the end for another of F1's independent teams - only Williams, Red Bull, Minardi and Jordan are now not either owned or part-owned by a major motor manufacturer.
BMW said it had not been put off by the political rows rocking F1.
Seven teams and five car manufacturers - including BMW - have threatened to set up a rival championship in 2008 if they are not given more say in the running of the sport and a greater share of its revenues.
I think BMW will struggle as they will have to build a whole new car
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"We anticipate that Formula One will emerge strengthened from the current restructuring phase and that it will continue to represent the top echelon of motorsport for the future," said Goeschel.
Sauber began life in F1 in 1993 with backing from BMW's bitter German rivals Mercedes.
But Mercedes backed out of the Sauber link up in 1995 to join forces with McLaren, leaving Ford to take over as engine supplier.
Source : BBC SPORTS
Sunday's US Grand Prix could yet be cancelled after Michelin advised teams using its tyres not to take part.
Michelin has suggested the seven teams not race unless Ralf Schumacher's tyre failure in practice on Friday can be explained or new tyres are allowed.
That would leave only six cars on the grid - from Ferrari, Jordan and Minardi - and rules state a race can be called off if there are less than 12 cars.
A tyre failure sent Schumacher smashing into a wall at Indianapolis on Friday.
Michelin were unable to "understand or reproduce" Schumacher's tyre failure.
The company wanted to fly in new tyres from its factory in France, but FIA rules prohibit the introduction of a new tyre part-way through a Grand Prix weekend
Renault chief Flavio Briatore said his team would not take part in the US GP if Michelin advised them not to.
"We fully support Michelin in this situation and in the efforts they are making to best resolve it," he said.
"They are flying out different tyres to use in the race, the same that were used for the Spanish Grand Prix.
We are worried - all of the Michelin teams
Fernando AlonsoChampionship leader
"The authorisation to use them has not yet been granted. If that were not given, we would not compete."
Championship leader Fernando Alonso also supported Michelin's stance - but said he thought it was unlikely a boycott would be necessary.
The Renault driver said: "We are worried - all of the Michelin teams are.
"If Michelin say it's not safe, the drivers would agree not to race, but this is an extreme option and this will not happen, never.
"I think this low (tyre) pressure some of the teams ran yesterday was some of the problem," he added.
Schumacher's team-mate, Ricardo Zonta, also suffered a similar blowout at a less critical part of the circuit.
Schumacher, who crashed at almost the same spot last year, was unhurt but was ruled out of the race after a medical.
Championship leaders Renault, McLaren, BAR, Williams, Red Bull, Toyota and Sauber all use Michelin tyres.
Only two of the 14 drivers using the French company's tyres set a timed lap in the first 45 minute session, the rest diverting through the pit lane rather than taking the final banked curve flat out.
However, all went out in the second, with McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen setting the quickest time ahead of BAR's Jenson Button and Alonso.
We are actively pursuing the dispatch of (new) tyres to Indianapolis
"There are many tyre problems across the pit lane," Alonso added.
"I think it's going to be a very risky race to start off with."
Michelin said they had been working with their experts in Clermont-Ferrand, France, to try to find a tyre that they knew would be safe for Indianapolis.
"We are in a process of discussing this possibility with the FIA (International Automobile Federation) and are actively pursuing the dispatch of these tyres to Indianapolis," the French manufacturer said.
There was no immediate comment from the FIA, but the sport's governing body did send a letter to the tyre makers and teams reminding them of their obligations to ensure safety after Raikkonen crashed out of this month's European Grand Prix.
Rules introduced this season force teams to use the same tyres for both qualifying and the race, and tyre selection for an event has to be made well before the weekend.
Champions Ferrari, Jordan and Minardi use Bridgestone tyres.
McLaren's Colombian driver Juan Pablo Montoya was fastest in the first session ahead of Ferrari's seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher.
Red Bull's David Coulthard was the only other Michelin driver to complete a timed lap. (Courtesy : BBC)
Winning Strategy : Trulli (Pic courtesy : BBC)
US Grand Prix qualifying results (Sat):
1 J Trulli (It) Toyota 1:10.625
2 K Raikkonen (Fin) McLaren 1:10.694
3 J Button (GB) BAR 1:11.277
4 G Fisichella (It) Renault 1:11.290
5 M Schumacher (Ger) Ferrari 1:11.369
6 F Alonso (Sp) Renault 1:11.380
7 R Barrichello (Brz) Ferrari 1:11.431
8 T Sato (Jpn) BAR 1:11.497
9 M Webber (Aus) Williams 1:11.527
10 F Massa (Brz) Sauber 1:11.555
11 JP Montoya (Col) McLaren 1:11.681
12 J Villeneuve (Can) Sauber 1:11.691
13 R Zonta (Brz) Toyota 1:11.754
14 C Klien (Aut) Red Bull 1:12.132
15 N Heidfeld (Ger) Williams 1:12.430
16 D Coulthard (GB) Red Bull 1:12.682
17 T Monteiro (Por) Jordan 1:13.462
18 C Albers (Ned) Minardi 1:13.632
19 N Karthikeyan (Ind) Jordan 1:13.776
20 P Friesacher (Aut) Minardi 1:14.494
Ralf Schumacher will be fit to race in Sunday's US Grand Prix despite crashing in Friday's practice in almost the same spot where he crashed in the 2004 race.
The incident, caused by a puncture, halted the session and the Toyota driver went to hospital for a check-up.
Ralf said: "Thankfully I am feeling OK but that was quite a big accident."
McLaren's Juan Pablo Montoya was quickest in both practice sessions with team-mate Kimi Raikkonen second and Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello third.
Toyota's Brazilian test driver Ricardo Zonta was second fastest in the morning with Renault's championship leader Fernando Alonso third.
Montoya and Alonso have the disadvantage of qualifying early on Saturday.
Reigning world champion Michael Schumacher posted the fourth fastest time in the afternoon session.
Briton David Coulthard was sixth fastest with a time of 1.12.076 for Red Bull while BAR's Jenson Button could only post the 15th fastest time in the afternoon.
Ralf Schumacher crashed at the banked final corner, the fastest section of the track, and his car spun, hit the wall and skidded across the track.
Richard Cregan, general manager of Toyota, said a sudden left tyre deflation led to the accident, as well as Toyota test driver Ricardo Zonta's practice shunt.
"Exactly the reasons for it, we're not sure yet," he said. "We're still trying to establish what happened, but certainly on both cases it's definitely tyre.
Last year he remained slumped in the cockpit and subsequent tests showed he had fractured his spine and he missed the next six races.
"Lightning is supposed not to strike twice the same place, but on this occasion I guess that does not apply to me," said Schumacher.
"I was approaching the last corner when I felt something go wrong on the left-hand side."
Traditionally, Formula One rules have been written by the engineers. Save in very exceptional circumstances, the Concorde Agreement (Clause 7.1) prevents anyone except the team technical directors making technical rules. This may no longer be the best approach. A better method might be to specify what we want the rules to achieve and only then allow the engineers to make proposals. The purpose of this note, therefore, is to suggest objectives together with some new rules to achieve them.
Safety, fairness, keeping the current six major car manufacturers involved, preserving the independent teams and ensuring that the public continue to enjoy Formula One are the five principal challenges for the Formula One World Championship in 2008. Everyone is agreed on the need for the first two; the last three are more controversial.
The need to cut costs
On the face of it, costs need to be cut. We have lost two independent teams and one major manufacturer in the last three years with no replacement in sight. However, some manufacturers are opposed to any economy measure which might curtail technical exploration. Five of the six competing car manufacturers are very large companies. Each assumes it has the money and technical expertise to win the Formula One World Championship alone or in partnership with an independent team. Each is apparently prepared to spend large sums to do so.
The problem is that however much money the six manufacturers collectively spend, only one can win, while each season one at least is going to finish with cars in 11th and 12th places or worse. Dr Helmut Panke, Chief Executive of BMW, said recently “We are not satisfied with the sixth and seventh places and we are in intensive discussions on how to do better”. But if all six manufacturers and their twelve cars stay in Formula One, one of them will have to be content with sixth or seventh place each year and two or three of the remainder will be even less successful.
The simple truth is that whether the six manufacturers collectively spend €1.5 billion or (at the extreme) €150 million, the result will be the same. The one with the cleverest engineers, the best-managed team and the best drivers will win, the others will fail. At the end of the season and after each race, manufacturers’ cars will be placed all the way down to 11th and 12th and possibly worse if there are one or two good, fully independent teams. But the Championship will look and feel the same whether €1.5 billion or (again, at the extreme) €150 million is being spent. Indeed it might be better with €150 million, because the gap between first and last would probably be less. So, arguably, some €1.35 billion is being completely wasted in Formula One each year by the six manufacturers.
Are costs the FIA’s business?
Some say this is no concern of the governing body; how the manufacturers spend their money is their business. But surely it is the duty of the governing body to do what it can to keep all the manufacturers involved, indeed to try to attract new ones. Manufacturers whose cars finish in 7th, 8th and so on, down to 12th place or below (which means at least half our current six manufacturers) are more likely to stay if their average annual expenditure is, say, €25 million rather than €250 million.
A 90% reduction in manufacturers’ costs without diminishing the spectacle of Formula One would probably be possible, given close and rational collaboration with the manufacturers and teams concerned. But even without such collaboration, the FIA must at least reduce costs to levels which independent teams can afford. If we fail, we will lose the independent teams. Should costs continue at present levels or, worse, escalate in the next ten years at the same rate as the last ten, we risk simultaneously driving out the independent teams and some of the less successful manufacturers. The result would be non-Formula One cars on the grid or, possibly, the collapse of the Championship.
To be clear, in suggesting a reduction from €250 million to €25 million, we are speaking of just the costs to a manufacturer of supplying engines to a single team. The cost of running the team must be added to this to arrive at the total cost of putting the cars on the grid. It is extraordinary, but true, that some manufacturers are spending upwards of €250 million just to supply engines. That this could be reduced by 90% or more is evidenced by the fact that Cosworth will be able to supply a fully competitive 2006 engine for less than €20 million and are even able to supply (to Red Bull) an engine to race and qualify in the top ten under this year’s relatively free-spending rules, for less than one tenth of the expenditure of some major manufacturers. It does not follow that expenditure is necessary merely because it is allowed.
A money-spending competition?
Formula One must not be allowed to become a money-spending competition. We need more emphasis on rules which allow a clever but under-funded team to defeat a less competent but richer rival. It must not be possible simply to buy success. This is essential for the survival of fully independent teams which rely on sponsorship and income from the commercial rights holder. An independent team will never have the same resources as a team backed by a major car manufacturer, but they are nevertheless an essential element of Formula One. In addition to being part of the tradition, they provide an entry point for young drivers and team personnel and bring colour and interest to the paddock.
It is probable that rules aimed at keeping all six manufacturers in the Championship will also make it possible for the independent teams to survive. Conversely, failure to introduce these rules risks the simultaneous loss of the independent teams and some of the manufacturers. The case for getting costs under control appears strong.
Resistance to cost-cutting
There has been a tendency for well-funded teams to resist cost- cutting, because the higher the costs, the smaller the number of teams which are their potential competitors. But rules which allow too steep a slope on the curve of performance versus expenditure must eventually result in the richest team dominating and the remainder unable to compete. This has happened in the distant past. If it were allowed to happen today, Formula One would quickly lose its international television audience. Collapse would soon follow. Even the best funded teams should support drastic cost- cutting in order to preserve Formula One in the medium and longer term.
Formula One has become divorced from reality. If you ask a man in the street how many people devote their entire working lives to putting two Formula One cars on the grid 17 times a year, he will probably reply 20 or 30, plus maybe some part-timers. The reality is about 300 for a small team and up to 1000 for a top team, all full-time employees. Most of these highly skilled and expensive people add nothing to the spectacle or to the sporting contest. They are working on things which the public never see and even enthusiasts are unaware of. Hundreds of talented people, all duplicating each other’s efforts in the different teams, all to no purpose. It is difficult to justify this on any rational basis.
It is sometimes suggested that reducing the scope for expenditure in Formula One reduces its technical interest or “dumbs it down”. The immediate question is: reduces its technical interest to whom? It may fascinate the relevant engineers that by spending millions of Euros they can build a new gearbox with ratios that are 0.25mm thinner, but no-one else knows or cares. There is no additional value for the watching public who, ultimately, pay for the whole thing. If we eliminate pointless (but very expensive) engineering exercises, there will still remain huge areas of technical interest, some of which can be directly relevant to automobile engineering. For example, a breakthrough in chassis dynamics (more probable with very low downforce) or the reduction of engine internal losses would give a big advantage to the team which made it. It would also be more generally relevant than generating huge levels of downforce or making an ultra-small gearbox.
Keeping the public interested
If we manage to control costs and retain a reasonable number of competing cars, we must also think about the public appeal of Formula One. Everyone considers themselves an expert on this, but until very recently there has been no serious attempt to find out what the public think. This is extraordinary when one remembers that the commercial success of Formula One would disappear overnight if the public were to lose interest. We hope that the survey which the FIA is conducting in conjunction with AMD will provide an insight. In the meantime we have taken a conventional approach and aimed at (i) closer racing through a drastic reduction in downforce combined with significantly increased “mechanical” grip; (ii) a more competitive field by reducing costs and hence the competitive disadvantage of the smaller teams; (iii) eliminating electronic driver aids to give greater importance to classic driver skills. If these objectives are achieved, Formula One should at least be able to maintain its current level of popularity.
Keeping speeds under control
In addition to containing costs, we hope to contain speeds. Excessive speeds in Formula One not only endanger the drivers, they also cause problems for the race organisers. This is because increased speeds necessitate upgrading circuit safety measures. Safety work increases the organisers’ costs without producing any additional income. Indeed moving the public further away from the action on track, which is increasingly necessary for safety reasons, makes spectating less attractive and risks further reducing the organisers’ income. This is an additional reason for rules which restrict the rate of increase in performance.
A tight schedule
Once matters of principle have been decided, it becomes easier to write rules. However, not all the manufacturers and teams have joined the discussions during the first four months of the year. The FIA cannot continue to wait for proposals, because it is obliged to publish the 2008 Formula One Technical Regulations before the end of 2005. In practice this means the new rules must be finalised by the fourth week of September for submission to the World Motor Sport Council and the FIA General Assembly at the end of October. This, in turn, means we can allow the whole of July for comments from stakeholders, but final preparation of the rules must begin internally on 1 August.
1 Kimi Raikkonen McLaren Mercedes M 2 Stops
2 Michael Schumacher Scuderia Ferrari B 3 Stops
3 Rubens Barrichello Scuderia Ferrari B 3 Stops
4 F Massa Sauber Petronas M 2 Stops
5 Mark Webber Williams BMW M 2 Stops
6 Ralf Schumacher Toyota M 2 Stops
7 David Coulthard Red Bull M 2 Stops
8 Christian Klien Red Bull M 2 Stops
9 J Villeneuve Sauber Petronas M 2 Stops
10 Tiago Monteiro Jordan B 3 Stops
11 Albers Minardi B 3 Stops
Out Jarno Trulli Toyota M Brake Failure
Out Juan P Montoya McLaren Mercedes M Black Flag
Out Jenson Button BAR M Wall Hit
Out Nick Heidfeld Williams BMW M Engine Failure
Out Christian Klien Red Bull M 2 Stops
Out Takuma Sato BAR M Hydraulic Failure
Out Friesacher Minardi B Hydraulic Failure
Out Fernando Alonso Renault M Wall Hit - Suspension damage
Out G Fisichella Renault M Hydaulic Failure
Out Narain Karthikeyan Jordan B Suspension Failure
Montreal is a cross between a street circuit
and a traditional road course
Juan Pablo Montoya heads to the Canadian Grand Prix, seeking his first podium position of the season. The Colombian certainly knows his way around the 4.361KM Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
"You reach 297km/h in seventh gear along the short pit straight, before braking hard for the left-right weave of turns one and two. Located just before the pit lane exit, turn one is taken at 112km/h in third gear, and is immediately followed by the Coin Senna. This right-hand hairpin is negotiated at 80Km/h in second gear."
"You push hard on the throttle as you exit the Coin Senna for the short straight that leads to the chicane of turns three and four. You drop from 257km/h in fifth to negotiate the right-left flick at 131km/h in second."
"Exiting turn four, you sweep flat out through the long right-hand curve of turn five, reaching 273km/h in sixth before once again braking hard for the left-right flick of turns six and seven. The first left-hander is taken at 80km/h in second with your speed increasing to some 144km/h in third for the right of turn seven."
"Full on the throttle on the exit as you power along the Place de la Concorde, achieving speeds of up to 318km/h in seventh gear, before dropping back through the gears for the right-left sequence of turns eight and nine. Entering the bumpy braking zone under the bridge for turn eight, your speed decreases to 112km/h in third gear."
"The slightly faster turn nine follows and this can be taken at 128km/h, still in third gear. Exiting turn nine, you blast along the sweeping straight that leads to the L'Epingle hairpin. Having reached speeds of 257km/h in fifth gear, you brake hard for the 180- degrees right hander, which swings you round onto the Droit du Casino."
"Accelerating along the main straight, you reach 318km/h in seventh gear as you approach the hardest braking point on the track. You pull -3.8G as you brake sharply to negotiate the final two corners that take you back to the start-finish straight. The right-left complex of bends is negotiated at 115km/h in third gear and you have to be careful not to jump the kerbs too aggressively."
Source McLaren Mercedes
Canadian track has been resurfaced ahead of the Grand Prix next sunday.
Williams BMW ,Heidfeld said 2005 Canadian GP would therefore be a new challenge for every driver and no one really knows what to expect.
A week after Canada , F1 would resume in Indianapolis, US which will mark the half way point of 19 race calender.
Alonso accepts title is in sight
EUROPEAN GP RESULT
Fernando Alonso celebrates victory in the European Grand Prix
1 F Alonso (Renault)
2 N Heidfeld (Williams)
3 R Barrichello (Ferrari)
4 D Coulthard (Red Bull)
5 M Schumacher (Ferrari)
6 G Fisichella (Renault)
7 JP Montoya (McLaren)
8 J Trulli (Toyota)
European Grand Prix winner Fernando Alonso says he is on course to become Formula One's youngest world champion.
The 23-year-old has now won four of this year's seven Grands Prix and has a 32-point lead with 12 races to go.
"If we keep this consistency, every time we will have more and more points. It seems we can do it," he said.
F1's youngest world champion so far was Brazilian Emerson Fittipaldi, who was 25 when he won his first title with Lotus in 1972.
Under the current system, it will prove very hard for anyone to catch Alonso because a driver can pick up points even if he finishes in eighth place.
A win is worth 10 points, with second place earning eight.
Then it is six points for third, five for fourth and so on down to eighth place, which receives one point.
To be probably the best car on the grid again, is probably better news for the rest of the season than winning the race
Alonso was pleased that Renault had recovered from a poor performance last weekend in Monaco, where they were unable to keep pace with Raikkonen after suffering major tyre problems.
"I am extremely happy, more than the victory I am happy because after fourth place at Monaco the team and I were not happy at all," he said.
"We had a very good car in Monaco and we didn't take as many points as we believed were possible.
"To be probably the best car on the grid again, to manage the tyres in the race, is probably better news for the rest of the season than winning the race."