Tuesday, January 17, 2006

F1: BMW unveils its 2006 challenger 

BMW has unveiled its first Formula 1 car as a fully-fledged team owner, at Valencia in Spain on Tuesday.

The new car, tagged the F1.06, is the first product to come out of the Munich manufacturer's acquistion of the Swiss Sauber outfit last June.

Team principal Mario Theissen claimed he was cautiously optimistic of BMW's chances with the new machine but warned there is "a long road ahead" for F1's newest factory team.

"We are not under any illusions," he said.

"2006 is a year of transition, and so it would be premature to declare any sporting objectives.

"The main thing is that everything is pointing in the right direction.."

Theissen admitted becoming a team principal had proved a challenging task with such a short lead-in time, but he added that the completion of the F1.06 was a testament to how far the outfit had come since buying Sauber.

"We have worked hard over the last seven months," he said.

"We've driven forward the integration of the two locations, got an interim car up and running, signed up the drivers, concluded contracts with our major partners and negotiated 90 work contracts for new staff.

"That's not bad as an interim progress report."

Theissen emphasized that it was too early to predict the car's potential but added that he hoped to build on Sauber's eighth place in the 2005 constructors' world championship.

"That is our starting point," he said.

"From there we aim to work our way up as quickly as possible. You can't do that overnight, needless to say. It requires patience and endurance. We have both."

The Willy Rampf-led design sports BMW's racing colours of white red and blue and, although it carries influences of last year's Sauber, it is a brand new car.

With a lower front-end and sculpted rear to accommodate BMW's new P86 2.4-litre V8 engine, the F1.06 is the first to be created completely in Sauber's state-of-art wind tunnel in Hinwil.

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