It’s the end of another era in F1, the era of expensive wind tunnels and complicated aerodynamic improvements. No more funky antlers (horns, dumbo ears), winglets, flexible front wings, noses with holes in them etc. In 2009 this drive for the perfect aerodynamic car is all but over with the introduction of new and dramatic rules.
I will put up 3 posts in the next few days dedicated to the F1.0- series from 2006 to 2008. Starting with the F1.06, here’s the first.
BMW entered F1 in 2006 as a team owner and developed 3 cars progressively aerodynamic with the F1.08 their finest and last. With the aero era over, here’s a bit about the 3 year evolution of the BMW F1.0- series before the 200 rule takeover.
In 2006, the first year for BMW Sauber a new engine rule was introduced where the three litre v10 engines were replaced with 2.4 litre v8 engines specifically the BMW P86 V8 . The new engines were smaller with a much lower output, but also more fuel efficient.
There have been some significant changes to the old Sauber car to make it the F1.06, starting from the chassis that has been lowered significantly at at the front. The nose also lowered with it’s underbelly curving up. Many aerodynamic changes were made to the front wing in the ongoing battle to improve airflow under the car and along the sides.
The fact the engines are smaller and therefore require smaller radiators, the sidepods could be more streamlined and aerodynamic. Another noticeable effect of the smaller V8 is the smaller diameter air intake in the front of the roll bar.
Big intentions, big ideas, and big efforts were all there for the team, but the realism was that this was the team’s first year and their first attempt at an F1 car.
“We are not under any illusions: we have a long road ahead of us,” he said. “2006 is a year of transition, and so would be premature to declare any sporting objectives. The main thing is that everything is pointing in the right direction.”
The drivers for this first season were Jacques Villeneuve and Nick Heidfeld and by the end of the season Jacques had already been replaced by Robert Kubica and the results were good.
The first points for the team came at the Malaysian Grand Prix with Jacques Villeneuve finishing in seventh place. The Hungarian Grand Prix is where the team scored their first podium courtesy of Nick Heidfeld at the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix. This was also the race where
Villeneuve’s career came to an end when suspiciously, Robert Kubica replaced Villeneuve with BMW stating that Villeneuve couldn’t drive because he hadn’t recovered sufficiently after his crash at the German Grand Prix. Not surprisingly BMW announced that Villeneuve wouldn’t be back with the team and that Robert Kubica (the third driver) would permanently replace him.
It was Robert Kubica who scored BMW Sauber’s second podium of the 2006 season at the Italian Grand Prix finishing third. By the time 2006 was finished BMW Sauber had finished fifth place in the constructor’s championship. Fairly successful for the first year.