BMW Sauber

February 9, 2009 by  
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In July 2009, BMW announced that it would withdraw from Formula One racing at the end of the Season

BMW, an abbreviation for Bavarian Motor Works, is an independent motorcycle and car manufacturer based in Munich, Germany. The manufacturer is known world-wide for producing beautiful, up-market cars that are a pleasure to drive. BMW also acts as a parent company for MINI and Rolls-Royce. The company has been involved in motor sport ever since they created their first motorcycle. They have competed successfully in Formula One racing, Formula Two racing and Rally racing, amongst others.

Initially BMW supported existing Formula One teams such as Williams and McLaren. In 2005, BMW made the decision to leave Williams F1 and to purchase the Sauber F1 team which was founded by Peter Sauber in 1993. The team became known as BMW – Sauber F1 and although BMW is the owner, constructor and engine manufacturer for the team, they decided to leave the Sauber name as a gesture of goodwill to Peter Sauber who currently acts as a consultant for the team.

BMW started its involvement in motor vehicle racing in the 1940s. They initially used their 328 model to participate in F2 racing, using the sport as a stepping stone to F1 racing. They ran their own team until F2 racing was stopped periodically in 1955 and then switched to F1. Even though F2 was later revived, BMW decided not to get involved with this aspect of the sport again – that was until F2 regulations allowed 1600cc motors. Suddenly the idea of F2 racing became a lot more appealing and by the end of the 1960s, BMW had developed the ‘M12’ engine as well as their 269 chassis. They continued to enjoy great success through the 1970s and decided to get more involved in F1 in the 1980s.

In 1982, BMW raced their first turbocharged engine, the M12/13. It was a complete success and it took its first win and the Canadian Grand Prix. The following year the engine took four more wins and won the driver’s championship. By 1984, BMW was supplying quite a few F1 teams with their multiple-victory engines. Despite BMW’s withdrawal from the sport near the end of 1986, the engine continued to be in use until turbocharged motors were banned from the sport. Tody the BMW M12/13 Turbocharged 14 engine is still recognised as being the first F1 engine capable of a 1000hp racing trim. In 1997 BMW developed a partnership with the Williams Grand Prix Engineering. The partnership proved to be most successful and BMW went on to enjoy many wins with excellent drivers like Ralf Schumacher, Jenson Button and Pablo Montoya behind the wheel.

In 2005, disagreements between BMW and Williams resulted in a bad season and the decline of the partnership. BMW decided to purchase Sauber’s multi-million dollar research and development facility and take over the team. In 2006, the BMW-Sauber F1 team was born allowing BMW to exercise full control over their own team.

Fernando Alonso

February 9, 2009 by  
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Fernando Alonso is a renowned Formula One driver and won the World Championship twice. He is best known for winning the World Driver’s Championship title in 2005 at the age of 24, making him the youngest Formula One champion. This victory also halted Schumacher’s 5 consecutive championship successes.

Fernando Alonso Diaz was born on 29 July 1981 in Oviedo of Spain. His father, Jose Luis, competed as an amateur kart driver and even constructed a pedal kart to look like a Formula One car. Right from a young age Fernando showed a keen interest in racing and his parents described him as having a competitive spirit. As a kart racer, Fernando Alonso met with much success, winning several championships and titles in Spain. This drew the attention of sponsors who provided the family with needed funds to promote Fernando’s racing career.

It was in 1999 that Fernando Alonso moved from karting to open-wheel cars. He took part in the Spanish Euro Open MoviStar and at the age of 18 he became champion of the series. In 2000 Alonso began racing in Formula 3000. Once again he met with victory and thus began Alonso’s Formula One career.

Alonso made his F1 debut in 2001 at the Australian Grand Prix, driving for Minardi. Unfortunately he battled to score his championship point as his car was not quite fit to compete against technically superior vehicles. However, Fernando Alonso’s racing skills were strongly evident. The year 2002 saw Alonso becoming a test driver for Renault in 2002 and later a regular driver in 2006. During the Malaysian Grand Prix in 2003 he earned the title of youngest driver to gain a F1 pole position. By the end of the 2004 season Alonso gained greater standings and points. Alonso’s 2005 was marked by consistency in racing and 7 victories. 2006 was the year Alonso challenged Michael Schumacher. The entire season was tense, filled with wins and losses. In the end it was Fernando Alonso who took the world championship in 2006.

In 2007 Fernando Alonso began racing for McLaren. Following a scandal in that year, McLaren and Alonso mutually agreed to the cancellation of his contract. In December 2007 he signed a contract with Renault F1 to drive beside Nelson Piquet, Jr. Toward the end of 2009, Alonso decided to sign a three season contract, from 2010 to 2012, with Ferrari.

McLaren Mercedes

February 9, 2009 by  
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Bruce McLaren was the founder of the McLaren F1 Team. He was born on 30 August 1937, and started his interest in racing by competing in motorcycle races, before moving over to cars. It was the heritage he left behind after his death in 1970 that formed the platform for a world known racing team, and a name that is carried with pride.

The partnership between McLaren and Mercedes started in 1995. It was a year full of new beginnings that not only included Mercedes as their new engine partner, but new regulations as well. Mercedes was the fourth engine partner since the 1970’s and there was a lot on the line. The new Mercedes engine, which was designed and built according to the new regulations, was smaller than the engine McLaren had used previously. This made the car design teams’ life a lot simpler. Refinement details on the engine and chassis meant that the units were almost completely new, and McLaren Mercedes worked hard on the balancing problems that came to the forefront in 1996. The new engine was modified with regard to its mid-range torque, and McLaren Mercedes managed to make the unit lighter and increase its power by 5%. By 1999, McLaren Mercedes had become a force to be reckoned with on the racing track.

The new century kicked off with close rivalry between McLaren’s Mika Häkkinen and Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher. Following Häkkinen’s retirement from Formula One at the end of the 2001 season, Kimi Räikkönen stepped into his position on McLaren’s F1 Team. The 2003 F1 season started off well enough with teammates Coulthard and Räikkönen each claiming a victory for the first two races, but rival teams soon caught up. The unreliability of McLaren’s newly developed MP4-18 put the team at a disadvantage as they were forced to use the older MP4-17D model car. Nevertheless, Räikkönen proved his impressive driving skills by consistently finishing in the points, closing the season just two points short of victory. Car problems continued to plague McLaren during the 2004 season, but Räikkönen managed to clinch a victory at the 2004 Belgian Grand Prix breaking the winning streak of Michael Schumacher. 2005 saw Colombian driver Juan Pablo Montoya teaming up with Räikkönen for most of the season, but persistent car problems robbed Räikkönen of possible victories. The 2006 F1 season presented a number of challenges, including Montoya crashing into Räikkönen on the start line, putting them both out of the United States 2006 Grand Prix. This resulted in Montoyo parting company with the team. After the Italian Grand Prix that same year, Räikkönen signed with Ferrari to replace Michael Schumacher.

Dissent in the McLaren team during 2007, as well as a scandal regarding the team being found guilty of obtaining technical information of a rival team, were some of the setbacks to be dealt with, and at the end of the season, Fernando Alonso was released from his contract after just one season. Both the 2008 and 2009 season saw the McLaren F1 team recover to some extent, with Lewis Hamilton and Heikkii Kovalainen as drivers. At the end of the 2008 season, Hamilton became the youngest ever driver to win the Formula One Driver’s Championship. It was also the first time in nine years that McLaren had clinched this title.

For 2010, the McLaren F1 Team has a contract with Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, both world champions with promising careers ahead of them. This double champion driver line-up, the first for McLaren since the Senna/Prost partnership in 1989, along with the new MP4-25 car, promises great things for the coming year.

Gerhard Berger

February 9, 2009 by  
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On August the 27th, 1959, Gerhard Berger was born in Worgl Austria and went on to become a major name in the world of Formula 1 racing. Berger has an incredible track record, having competed in 14 seasons of Formula One. His best ranking was his two third-placed season finishes during which he won ten Grand Prix races, made it to the podium 48 times, 12 poles and 21 fastest laps, two more than Ayrton Senna, a good friend of his. It can be said that Gerhard Berger is a F1’s most experienced driver in all of Formula One history with his 210 starts. He can also be merited with being the winner of Benetton’s first and last wins, with eleven years in between them.

With European Formula Three, Berger won numerous times and from there he moved to Formula One in 1984 and drove for the ATS team. In 1985 he joined the Arrows for one full season, but it was only when he made a move to Benetton-BMW the following year that his F1 career really went places. In 1986 he won his first Grand Prix in Mexico, which caught Ferrari’s eye and he was soon with them for the 1987 season. Gerhard managed to win the last two rounds of the season and was seen as the 1988 Championship favorite. But with the McLaren team made up of Prost and Senna, who won 15 of the total of 16 rounds, it was not to be.

Nigel Mansell joined Berger at Ferrari in 1989. However, the car failed to produce the needed results and Gerhard was fortunate to survive a fiery crash during the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola. Fortunately with relatively few injuries Berger was able to join from mid-season on. Then from 1990 to 1992 Berger moved to McLaren and joined Ayrton Senna, but Senna’s brilliant pace was difficult to match. Gerhard Berger was an immensely popular figure in Formula One and up until 2003 was seen in the pitlane as Competitions Director at BMW, overseeing their successful return in Formula One racing until 2006 when he took up shares with Scuderia Toro Rosso. He later sold his 50% share in the team back to Mateschitz in 2008.

Gilles Villeneuve

February 9, 2009 by  
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Joseph Gilles Henri Villeneuve was an outstanding Formula One driver from Canada. Starting off on snowmobiles, Gilles Villeneuve raced in Formula Atlantic and then F1. As a Formula One driver, Gilles Villeneuve truly impressed the crowds and was well known for his excellent skills on the track. A true risk-taker, Villeneuve was known by his compatriots for his sensitive, friendly personality.

Gilles Villeneuve was born on 18 January 1950 in Quebec, Canada. Right from a young age he expressed an avid interest in motor vehicles. When he turned 16 years old and received his driver’s license, it was like a dream come true. By 1976 he was racing with Ecurie Canada and taking the Formula Atlantic championship by storm. He was quickly noticed by McLaren and asked to join the team.

Gilles Villeneuve debuted as an F1 driver in 1977 at Silverstone race track. He attracted much attention as an up and coming talent. In August 1977 Ferrari met with Villeneuve and soon after he began racing for the team. His first major F1 victory occurred in 1979 in Canada. Some reason that he would have done better if his vehicle could have matched the great Lotuses of the time. Others said that his wins weren’t many due to his all-or-nothing driving method. One of F1 driver Villeneuve’s most notable races was the 1979 French Grand Prix held at Dijon track. Renault driver Rene Arnoux looked set to come in second following teammate Jean-Pierre Jabouille. However, Gilles Villeneuve wasn’t about to let the faster Renault beat him. In a tense duel with much sliding and contact, Villeneuve managed to end the race just ahead of Arnoux for second place.

Sadly, on 8 May 1982, Villeneuve died as the result of an accident whilst taking part in the final qualifying session of the Belgian Grand Prix. There are a number of memorials to the exceptional driver, including the naming of the Grand Prix track in Canada after him. With his persistant attitude, excellent car control and strong driving style, Gilles Villeneuve will go into Formula One history as a legend.

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