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Italian GP: Preview - BMW

NEWS STORY
09/09/2008

The FIA Formula One World Championship's European season is heading flat out onto the home straight. On the agenda for the next weekend of 12th to 14th September is the high-speed track in Monza's Royal Park. Nowhere else do the F1 cars reach speeds in excess of 350 km/h. That is thanks to a special aerodynamic package with minimal drag and correspondingly low downforce. Engine power is also high on the wish list for the Italian Grand Prix, and both man and material are subjected to extreme loads during braking. To prepare for the event, the teams put in three days of testing in Monza at the end of August. For the BMW Sauber F1 Team, Nick Heidfeld took on testing duties for two days and Robert Kubica for one.

At last year's Italian GP the BMW Sauber F1 Team drivers finished fourth (Heidfeld) and fifth (Kubica). Kubica clocked the highest speed of all at 351.7 km/h. In 2006, the maiden year for both team and driver, the Pole was third in only his third grand prix to claim his first podium.

Nick Heidfeld: "High speed will be the number-one issue in Monza. Currently there's no other Formula One track where we break the 350 km/h mark. Another extreme factor is how hard we ride the kerbs in the chicanes. Speed and tradition are the hallmarks of this circuit. In other respects it is unfortunately a bit dated. The Italian fans always ensure there's a special atmosphere at this Grand Prix.

"What is crucial in terms of performance is a good aerodynamic package that doesn't generate much drag. Nowhere else does the car carry as little wing, and our team normally does a pretty good job of providing us with this special aero package. Testing in Monza was encouraging, and I'm looking forward to the Italian Grand Prix."

Robert Kubica: "Monza is one of the most challenging tracks for the cars, as on the calendar it is where we drive with the lowest downforce level and the highest top speeds. The key factors in Monza are low drag, in order to reach the highest speeds possible without losing too much downforce, and good braking stability. The track is unique because of some very long straights where we easily reach more than 300 kilometres per hour. There are some really famous corners such as Parabolica, Ascari or Lesmo, and they are faster than the first chicanes. But you have to approach them braking heavily.

"For me personally, Monza is very special as I achieved my first podium there in 2006 in only my third Formula One race. To mark this special point in my career I will again have a slightly different helmet design in Monza. As I grew up as a driver in Italy, I know a lot of people there and quite a lot of Italian fans will be cheering for me. I also expect plenty of Polish fans to be there. I am really looking forward to the weekend."

BMW Sauber F1Team Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "Monza is the classic engine circuit. Since the switchover to V8 engines, the full-throttle percentage per lap has risen to 70 percent. In 2007, Robert recorded the highest top speed of all the drivers in the Royal Park when he hit 351.7 km/h. While Nick will be racing in Italy with the same engine as in Spa, Robert's car is scheduled to be fitted with a new unit.

"So far Monza has been a rewarding venue for our team. In 2006, Robert had his first podium in what was only his third grand prix, and last year Nick and Robert took a nine-point haul to secure our second-best result of the season. For this year's Italian Grand Prix too, we have set our sights just as high.

"The 2008 race in Italy again marks the close of the European season, which has been very successful for the BMW Sauber F1 Team. So far in 2008 we have earned a total of nine podium places and celebrated a one-two in Montreal. It means we've achieved our season's target and established ourselves as one of the top three teams."

Willy Rampf, Technical Director: "I'm very much looking forward to the race in Monza as it is a special event every time. Monza is pure tradition and the only high-speed track left on the calendar. Because of the four long straights, you have to develop a special low-downforce aero package which enables high speeds on account of its low drag, and is only used in this one race.

"The challenge for the drivers and engineers is to find a mechanical set-up that guarantees good braking stability and allows for aggressive driving over the kerbs. That is absolutely essential to achieve good lap times. We were totally satisfied with our test in Monza, and we'll be heading for Italy in optimistic mood."

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