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.

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.

Mika Häkkinen

February 9, 2009 by  
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Born on 28 September 1968 in the Helsinki metropolitan area of Vantaa, Finland, Mika Pauli Häkkinen started his auto racing career behind the wheel of a go-kart at the age of five. Having crashed on his very first lap, it appeared that his brief encounter with auto racing had come to an abrupt end. However, the racing bug had bitten, and Häkkinen managed to persuade his parents to give him a second chance, leading to him winning five karting championships by the end of 1986. Dubbed as the ‘Flying Finn’, Mika Häkkinen made quite an impression on the racing world, eventually leading him to become a Formula One driver for Team Lotus in 1991.

Having qualified thirteenth for his Grand Prix debut race held in Phoenix, he held his position until his car gave engine trouble preventing him from completing the race. Undeterred, Häkkinen went on to score his first Grand Prix points in the race at the Imola race track in Italy, by fighting his way from 25th on the grid to finish fifth – a mere three laps behind Ayrton Senna who took the checkered flag. The year 1992 proved to be a good one for Häkkinen as he finished the season in eighth place in the Driver’s Championship with a six-fold improvement in his points score over the previous year.

Häkkinen joined McLaren as a test driver in 1993, being called upon to fill the gap left by Michael Andretti when he left the F1 team following dismal results. Häkkinen made his McLaren race debut at Estoril in 1993, where he qualified above the team’s leading driver Ayrton Senna. However, a mishap during the race took him out of the running for points. It was at Suzuka on the following weekend that Häkkinen earned his first career podium by finishing fifteen seconds behind his tea-mate.

1995 presented some challenges for the Flying Finn as, following second place positions in both Italy and Japan, he missed the Pacific Grand Prix for health reasons. Back behind the wheel for the Australian Grand Prix, Häkkinen was critically injured during practice, with quick thinking by rescuers and an emergency tracheotomy saving his life. Amazingly he was back on track for the 1996 season, claiming his spot on the winners’ podium, although not yet in first place. He finished the season at fifth in the Driver’s Championship with a total score of 31 points.

The elusive first place was claimed by Häkkinen at Jerez in 1997 for the McLaren F1 Team. 1998 saw Häkkinen vying with Michael Schumacher for championship points right up to the third last race of the season. Häkkinen went on to beat Schumacher at the Luxembourg Grand Prix, claiming first place at the last race of the season in Japan. Despite facing a number of challenges in 1999, and making some serious errors of judgment, Häkkinen claimed his second world championship at the end of the season. Michael Schumacher took the F1 victory in the year 2000, reportedly describing his rivalry with Häkkinen as the most satisfying of his career.

At the end of the 2001 season, which proved to be somewhat bitter-sweet for Häkkinen, he retired from Formula One racing, initially stating he would be taking a twelve-month sabbatical, but in mid-2002 making it an official retirement. Between 2005 and 2007 Häkkinen joined forces with Mercedes-Benz for the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM), claiming a number of victories.

Although rumors persisted that Mika Häkkinen would be returning to F1 racing, in 2007 he announced his retirement from competitive motor sport, and in 2008 he revealed that he would be pursuing a new career in driver management. No doubt this Formula One champion’s vast experience on the track will prove valuable in his chosen new career.

Peter Revson

February 9, 2009 by  
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Born in New York city, on 27 February 1939, Peter Jeffrey Revson, would grow up to be an extremely talented racing driver who was a familiar and successful presence at the Indianapolis 500 and in Formula One. Revson was no newcomer to money. His father, Martin, was a shareholder in Peter’s uncle, Charles Revson’s, multi billion dollar cosmetic company, Revlon. He attended the most exclusive schools and was heir to his father’s fortune that was estimated at over $1 billion.

Peter was seen as somewhat of a “Free Spirit” that did not need to work, and could have spent his life with freedom and ease. Yet his life revolved around speed and he had the most beautiful women at his side. One such a woman included Marjorie Wallace, 1973 Miss World.

He began his racing career in 1971, driving for McLaren, while he was attending Cornell University. Revson would be come the very first American driver to take home the Can-Am Championship. He also posted the fasted qualifying time, and finished second, in the same season, at the Indianapolis 500. From 1969 to 1973 Revson raced in the Indy 500 every year. Peter Revson was moved to the McLaren Formula One team in 1972, where he remained for two years. During his time with McLaren, He won the British Grand Prix and in 1973, he won the Canadian Grand Prix. In 1974, Revson moved over to Shadow.

At the South African Grand Prix in 1974, which was held in Johannesburg, Revson had a fatal accident in his practice run. His Shadow Ford DN3 suffered a suspension failure. Peter Revson was the second Revson killed in the industry. His brother, Douglas Revson lost his life in 1967, in Denmark. Peter and Douglas were laid to rest together, in the Ferncliff Cemetery, that is located in Hartsdale (New York). Tragically, the driver that replaced Revson, Tom Pryce, was also killed in the same Grand Prix, three years later.

In 1996, Peter Jeffrey Revson, took his place in the Motorsport Hall of Fame of America, where his name stands proudly, in the sports car category.

Alain Prost

February 9, 2009 by  
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Alain Prost was born near Saint Chamond in the Loire region of central France on February 24, 1955. Although Alain was a physically small boy he had unlimited energy and would give his everything as he took part in many sporting activities including football where he broke his nose several times. At the age of 14 years he discovered kart racing on a family holiday and from then on he became obsessed with it, winning several karting championships. In 1974 he left school to take up racing full time and supported himself by becoming a kart distributor and tuning engines.

In 1975 he won the French senior karting championships and as a prize was given a season in Formula Renault where he won two driving titles and moved to Formula Three. During 1978 and 1979 he won both the European and French F3 championships, which made him wanted property by several Formula One teams. With much consideration he chose to sign up with McLaren for the 1980 season. His first Formula One season was inundated with accidents, breaking his wrist in one and suffering from concussion in another. One of the points of concern was that these accidents were caused mainly from mechanical failures and the other was Alain’s increasing loss of confidence in how the McLaren team was being run. With that he broke his two-year contract and moved over to Renault.

His first Formula One win came at the 1981 French Grand Prix at Dijon and from there on he kept up his winning streak with nine wins during his time with Renault. However, a change was inevitable, so Alain Prost and his wife Anne-Marie and their son Nicolas moved to Switzerland where Prost again joined the British-based team, McLaren in 1984. His six seasons with McLaren saw him win thirty races, three driving titles and runner-up twice. During 1985 and 1986 he became the first back-to-back French World Champion since Jack Brabham ten years ago. In 1987 he beat Jackie Stewart‘s 14-year-old record when he won his 28th Grand Prix.

In 1988 between Prost and Ayrton Senna they contributed a total of 15 victories to McLaren-Honda. From then on there was intense rivalry between the two, which drove the sport’s greatest drivers to heights of success and controversy unheard of before. McLaren continued to dominate throughout 1989 but with the Prost-Senna feud reaching the stage of out-right hatred, Prost decided to leave McLaren and join Ferrari. Prost won five races in his first year with Ferrari but lost the season end championship in Japan to fellow rival, Senna.

In 1991 Alain Prost failed to win a race and due to his public criticism of the team he was fired. The year 1992 saw him as a TV commentator but Prost returned to racing in 1993 and joined William-Renault where he won several races bringing his tally up to 51 wins. When faced with having Senna as his Williams team mate Prost decided to retire and instead become a TV commentator as well as working as an advisor and test driver for McLaren.

From 1997 to 2002, Alain Prost created and ran Prost Grand Prix. Since then he has regularly taken part in the Andros Ice Race series, as well as several bicycle races.

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