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Wave the flag with the BMW WilliamsF1 Team!



The story of Frank Williams and his F1 success


Montoya's final season with BMW



An Interview with BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen:

Q How would you sum up the 2004 season for BMW Motorsport?
A Very mixed. Naturally we are unhappy with the results of the BMW WilliamsF1 Team in Formula One. Fourth place in the Constructors' World Championship clearly does not fulfill our target. After consistently exceeding our targets for four years, this time we fell short. That said, we were still able to celebrate a consolation win in São Paulo. On the touring car front, BMW enjoyed some brilliant successes in claiming the Manufacturers' and Drivers' title and with its wins in the 24 Hour Races on the Nürburgring and at Spa. The continuing globalisation of Formula BMW has progressed very positively. After the series in Germany and Asia, the new championships in Britain and the USA have made their mark.

Q Why did the BMW WilliamsF1 Team fail to meet its expectations for the season?
A After the very promising test drives at the beginning of the year, we basically realised during the first Grand Prix in Australia that the competition had made a greater leap forward in development than we had. WilliamsF1 had risked a great deal with their new concept and the striking nose cone. In retrospect it's easy to say we should have gone down a different route, but we didn't want to be on a par with the competition - we wanted to overtake them. And that demands a certain risk. That's why we supported WilliamsF1 in that. Unfortunately, on the race track the disadvantages of this vehicle concept proved to outweigh the advantages that had been shown in the simulation tests. The front aerodynamic geometries provided some benefits, but also hampered the progression of the car in some areas, and ultimately new aero developments were put in place that allowed greater performance to be achieved on the track.

F1 Pit Shop

Q How did the BMW WilliamsF1 Team respond to these insights?
A WilliamsF1 reacted with a remarkable tour de force. The team was restructured and the chassis division brought along modifications to virtually every Grand Prix. In France, and by the Hungarian GP at the latest, that became evident in the new sidepods and the slimmed-down nose. Though we are by no means satisfied by the results, I am happy with the way the team tackled this difficult situation and did its utmost as the season went on. Winning the final race of the season gives the team an important boost for development work in the winter.

Q Were there any other factors that had a negative effect?
A Yes, in other ways too it wasn't an easy season. Ralf's accident in Indianapolis and his 14-week recuperation period really hit the team hard. Then there were also disqualifications to come to terms with. In general we were in an unusual situation with respect to our drivers as they both left the team at the end of the season. Even though the drivers and the team handled it relatively well, this constellation of factors certainly didn't do our results any favours. In previous years, the BMW engine was the measure of all things in Formula One.


Q Did that also apply to the BMW P84 in the 2004 season?
A The BMW engine was the most powerful unit in the field in 2004 as well. This is shown by the records set up in Monza - at 369.9 km/h, Pizzonia posted the highest top speed in F1 history, while in prequalifying Montoya drove the highest average speed ever attained in Formula One. Monza is the Formula One course with the greatest full-throttle load at around 70 percent: in other words, it's a real engine circuit. But far more compelling evidence that the BMW engine was the benchmark for 2004 again is the fact that we were able to drive at maximum engine speed in the race as well, and in seventh, i.e. the highest gear and the one most in use. You practically rip through the lower gears. With the lifting of the rpm limit for the entire race distance, which was virtually doubled by the regulations for 2004, the BMW P84 clearly stood out in Formula One. And the BMW engine remained reliable as well. There was just one retirement due to engine failure.

Q What consequences will be drawn from the 2004 season?
A We have had to draw many lessons from our experience this year. Naturally, aerodynamics are a cornerstone of performance, and much energy will be committed to this, not least with the second, state-of-the-art wind tunnel going on stream. That investment has to bear fruit in 2005. In other technical areas, the ongoing optimised pooling of resources from Munich and Grove must deliver fresh results. In 2005 we want to close the gap to the leaders again. The end of the 2004 season has show that we're on the right track.

Q How are chassis and engine preparations going for 2005?
A The new chassis, the FW27, will be introduced at the end of January. As for the engine for the 2005 season, we have basically had to develop two concepts. The first was virtually completed and was already running in the car on test drives when it was announced that engines would have to last for two Grand Prix weekends in 2005. As a result, we had to change tack.

Q What do you think of the regulation changes for the engines?
A Basically by extending the lifespan you can save money, of course, as you don't need as many engines. But that should have been decided a lot earlier, otherwise that advantage will be more than wiped out by developments which prove pointless in retrospect, as has now happened. The proposed introduction of 2.4-litre V8 engines in the future would again involve a costly development effort that would in no way be compensated for by saving two cylinders per engine. There should be a completely new concept, not just for the engine but for the car as a whole. So much for costs. Against the background of the safety argument, one has to take other aspects into consideration as well - the fact that lap times have gone down again in 2004 compared with 2003, even though the engines have been restricted through a doubling of the distance, clearly proves that the engines are not responsible for it. If you want to make F1 safer, you have to go back to the causes of accidents. These were tyre damage and debris on the track. That view can be backed by numerous facts and we continue to endorse that position.

Q What is the significance for BMW of winning the FIA European Touring Car Championship (ETCC)?
A These international titles mean a great deal to BMW. The national BMW teams have fought hard throughout the season in 20 races held in eight countries and jointly ensured that the Manufacturers' title was sewn up by BMW with three races to go. We had gone in with high aims for the season and we have met them. We wanted to defend the Manufacturers' Championship with the BMW 320i and also win the Drivers' title. Beyond that, Tom Coronel once again took the Independents Trophy for privateers in the FIA ETCC. It couldn't have been better.

Q The European Touring Car Championship will become a World Championship in 2005. Is that something BMW looks forward to?
A BMW has a longstanding and, above all, very successful tradition in international touring car racing. It has 20 European Championship titles alone to its name, as well as having won the only FIA Touring Car World Championship carried out to date. That was in 1987, when the title went to Roberto Ravaglia, who today runs one of the national teams in the FIA ETCC. It's tremendous that the World Championship is being revived again for touring car racing. We aim to deliver a good performance on that stage as well. Other manufacturers and well-known drivers, moreover, will ensure a growing interest in the event.

Q How will BMW handle its involvement in the new World Championship?
A In principle, exactly as we have done in the European Championship. For BMW Motorsport, it is a very crucial advantage in being able to compete worldwide with one car that we are developing in Munich and will then sell to customer teams around the world as a sports kit. BMW Motorsport will provide the necessary backing, as before. No official BMW works involvement is planned because that would go against the spirit of the Super 2000 regulations, which are aimed at affordable touring car racing. The regulations allow for manageable technology and calculable budgets for involvements in interesting markets.

Q How do you view the international development of Formula BMW?
A The Formula BMW UK Championship had a flying start. Formula racing has a long tradition in Great Britain and most of the teams had had a great deal of experience. Although it's not the same story in North America, Formula BMW USA managed to establish itself immediately as the most important entry-level series in Open Wheel Racing there. It won the hearts and minds of a lot of fans this season.

Q How do you explain the worldwide success of Formula BMW?
A Firstly, we set standards when it comes to safety. Our vehicles meet all safety criteria for the significantly more powerful and faster Formula 3 racing cars. Secondly, Formula BMW offers its drivers more than simply a car. Our education and coaching programme teaches the next generation of drivers everything they need to know to make their way in the world of motor sport. That concept has taken Formula BMW right to the top: Formula BMW has leapt from a standing start to the top entry-level series for global Formula racing.




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