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Q&A with BMW's Mario Theissen

NEWS STORY
27/10/2005

What's your verdict on the Formula One season 2005?
BMW Motorsport Director Mario MT: "Our sixth season since BMW's return to Formula One in 2000 has also been the most challenging. Obviously, BMW and WilliamsF1 are not satisfied with fifth place in the Constructors' championship."

Where did things go awry?
MT: "There were many areas where we needed to improve, and the packed Formula One calendar in 2005 – with more races than ever before – didn't give us the time to do that."

Can you give us any details?
MT: "The chassis was not up to scratch at the start of the season. We had hoped that the extensive modifications we introduced halfway through the year would allow us to take a step forward, but instead we initially went in the opposite direction. The people in Grove worked tirelessly and their endeavours deserve our respect. In too many races we lacked the speed to pick up points. Added to which, Nick Heidfeld suffered two engine failures. The first came in the heat of Bahrain, and was traced back to a faulty piston. The second was in Canada, a foreseeable scenario where the engine overheated. The engineers thought the air temperature would be lower and the cars weren't sent out with maximum cooling. Nick drove almost the whole race right up behind another car and the heat this generated was just too much for the engine to withstand. Nine times an accident robbed a driver of any chance of points. In Indianapolis we were undone by the infamous tyre problems and in Turkey it was a self-inflicted problem that led to tyre side wall damage."

Did the official confirmation of the split with WilliamsF1 have an adverse effect on the end-of-season result?
MT: "No. Everybody involved gave one hundred percent – their own futures were also on the line. Extending the partnership into the future would not have made us any faster."

How are preparations progressing for 2006?
MT: "Our primary focus has been on the current season with our partner WilliamsF1 and we maintained this intensity right up to the last race. Our new project started up in parallel. We have worked systematically to bring the locations in Munich and Hinwil together for the new team and are on schedule. Since the decision by the Board of Management on June 22nd, employees from the various departments have been coming and going between the two locations on an almost daily basis. Our first step was to weigh up the respective resources in the various areas of the team. Then we finalised the relevant targets and put the requisite working processes in place. Recruitment interviews have been held since September, with reinforcements for the aerodynamics department in Hinwil the top priority. We are looking to use the outstanding wind tunnel as frequently as possible, as soon as possible."

To what extent do you intend to strengthen the team?
MT: "At present, the locations in Munich and Hinwil each employ around 300 people for the Formula One project. We are planning to add another 100 or so people to the team in Hinwil. The aim is to increase the overall workforce to 700."

How are you going about the recruitment process?
MT: "We're taking a very thorough approach. A lot of people apply to work in motor sport out of love for the sport, and it's up to us to look carefully at the expertise, performance and ability to work in a team which those applicants can offer. We are aiming to employ a mixture of BMW employees interested in getting into motor sport, university graduates and established experts from a range of backgrounds."

How much progress has been made with the chassis and engine for 2006?
MT: "The foundations for next year's chassis were already in place by the end of the 2005 season and the aerodynamics department in Hinwil has since been working on the optimisation of individual components. At the same time, further advances have been made in Munich with the new P86 V8 engine in preparation for winter testing."

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