Q & A with BMW Sauber's Willy Rampf

After a dismal start to the season, BMW Sauber is pinning its hopes of moving closer to the top on the major upgrades introduced at the Spanish Grand Prix this weekend

Q & A with BMW Sauber's Willy Rampf

AUTOSPORT talked exclusively with the team's tech boss Willy Rampf about the new package.

Q. How difficult is it to evaluate a package like this properly with the limited engine usage and no testing?

Willy Rampf: Overall it's quite difficult. In the past we would have gone to a test and then gone to the track. There are two aspects that we have to consider - one is the pure performance and the other is reliability. Reliability is less of a concern, but we still have to make sure that everything is properly installed, that the radiator doesn't touch the engine cover.

The second part is to find the right setup for this aero configuration. An aero package like this these days is not just about more downforce, it also gives a different aero characteristic.

Q. So the main priority at the moment is to increase the grip?

WR: Yes. It's to increase the downforce because that always gives lap time. But also, we want to improve the car handling and have a car that is a bit easier to drive.

Q. Will not running KERS help to understand the aero package?

WR: Yes. We haven't installed KERS because we think there is enough work to do on this car to have a proper baseline. If we had KERS there are other aspects that we have to consider that also play a role in setting up the car. There's quite a lot of interaction.

Q. Will there be a big change visible on the car?

WR: Oh yes. They are quite visible because they are quite big changes - for example the nose is higher, the sidepods are different, the floor is different and the diffuser is different. It's the first development of a conventional floor. Also, we have an extra element in the rear wing.

Q. Do you expect to see the promised improvement of half-a-second?

WR: We can only feed the simulation with all the aero data, and we see half-a-second in the simulation results. There, everything is right, the car has the right balance.

Q. This weekend is an important one for BMW, but is it going to be the developments in the next six weeks that will decide how good the season is?

WR: arcelona will be a reasonable benchmark because everyone is bringing updates and some teams have already brought some smaller updates. This is a new start for all of the cars. We have more steps for the next races - not for Monaco - but after. You cannot catch up within three or four races.

There is no way because everybody is developing their cars and the leaders are quite far in front. With the current grid, one tenth can be two or three places in qualifying, which makes it even more difficult. It's not so bad when compared with the delta laptime, but in the end it's the grid position that counts.

Q. How long will it take to catch up?

WR: This is very difficult to say. We expect that the steps that we are making are bigger than in the past when the cars had been developed over years. This year

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