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Malaysia GP: Preview - BMW

NEWS STORY
18/03/2008

The BMW Sauber F1 Team heads for a home event this coming weekend, exactly 9,778 kilometres distant from Munich and 10,012 kilometres from the Swiss headquarters at Hinwil: the Malaysian Grand Prix is held under the sponsorship of the team's premium partner, Petronas.

Nick Heidfeld: "For years now the Malaysian Grand Prix has been rather a special race for me. Petronas, of course, was already a partner of Sauber when I was driving for them from 2001 to 2003, and we used to do promotional tours around the country. As a Formula One driver you usually don't get to see much beyond airports, hotels and race tracks as there simply isn't the time to get to know a country and its people. But in Malaysia I've already managed to get around quite a bit and I feel very much at home there. It always takes a while to get acclimatised to the combination of heat and high humidity, but that's never been a problem for me. The circuit is an attractive and challenging one. Last year I had a great race in Sepang and finished fourth. I managed to get past Felipe Massa and kept the Ferrari in check behind me."

Robert Kubica: "I'm looking forward to the race in Malaysia because Sepang is a very challenging track which I'm fond of. Of course the climatic conditions are at the extreme end, which makes it even more of a challenge. But fortunately we already had very high temperatures in Melbourne, so we've had a bit of a chance to adjust. Last year our car was very competitive, but for me pretty much everything went wrong. So I still have a score to settle in Sepang. The Malaysian Grand Prix is a very special race for us on account of our partner Petronas. We have a lot of fans rooting for us there."

Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "No sooner have we ticked off the season opener in Australia than Malaysia is already beckoning. This Grand Prix is a kind of home race for us. Since 2006 we have experienced the sheer charisma that our premium partner Petronas has in Malaysia. The euphoric welcome extended to our team in this country is a fantastic experience every time, and the various events held at the foot of the Petronas Twin Towers have always exerted a magnetic pull. As part of its Asia strategy, the BMW Group has ramped up its involvement in Malaysia over recent years. The race in the Greater Kuala Lumpur area is an important grand prix for both BMW and Petronas.

"Following the unexpectedly hot battle in Melbourne, we now head for the steam bath of Sepang. Not only are temperatures above 30° Celsius, but humidity levels are also extremely high due to the proximity to the equator. Consequently, we are looking ahead to this test of endurance with bated breath."

Willy Rampf, Technical Director: "The race in Australia has given us a first pointer as to where the individual teams stand, but no more than that. That's because the Albert Park circuit with its distinctive characteristics is not very representative. And so I believe we won't get a reliable picture of the true balance of power until after the Malaysian Grand Prix. Due to its many differing corners, Sepang makes huge demands on the set-up of the cars. The slow sections require plenty of traction, while BMW Sauber F1Team high stability levels are crucial particularly for the many fast corners. Good aerodynamic efficiency is another essential. In Sepang, moreover, the rear tyres come in for a great deal of punishment, which will be exacerbated further by the absence of traction control."

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