Technical analysis of the BMW F1.08

Launched today at their parent companies base in Munich, BMW Sauber presented their aggressive new car, the F1.08

Technical analysis of the BMW F1.08

The car features several innovations, a few of which are inspired by rival teams and a few which are all new.

Having enjoyed their most competitive year in 2007, the team had no specific faults to rectify in their car. The F1.07 was not quite as fast as the leading two teams, but the car eclipsed the opposition and aside from reliability issues proved to be the third best car of the season.

Over the winter the team have had to work to improve every aspect of the car, but unlike their midfield rivals did not have to divert resources into rectifying specific failings in their old car.

Thus the team were able to respond more fully to the new rules, The team's main target was outlined by their Technical director Willi Rampf, who said the car was "very stable and very forgiving and gives good feedback to the driver."

To achieve this, Rampf noted that the car needed "stable aerodynamics, not losing downforce during cornering."

Lastly, the loss of electronic traction and braking controls demanded "improved mechanical grip levels," added Rampf.

The resulting machine is even more focussed than its predecessor, featuring aggressive aerodynamics. Starting from the front the front wing is a mix of BMW and McLaren philosophies.

Described by Rampf as "a massive front wing" he added that the design was created "to achieve less sensitivity to steering, cornering and side winds".

Outwardly similar to their old wing with its projecting square jaw, but the pioneering split flap design has been discarded for a McLaren-like three element design, the wing itself being hung the middle flap.

The rest of the zero keel nose and bargeboard treatments are refined versions of last year's car.

While to the side of these the front wheels sport fixed fairings, which had not been seen on the car up until this stage. Different in shape as the lower leading edge has a square shape, by putting the bodywork outside of the wheel rim, this is a step beyond what other teams have dared to with the wheel fairings.

Although within the rules as the fairing doesn't extend sideways beyond the car's maximum width or vertically below the rim, this might be seen a risk if the scrutineers don't agree with BMW's interpretation.

Leading back to the sidepods, these have been revised to be significantly slimmer. Rampf explains: "The sidepod and engine cover are even lower than last years, reducing the volume to have better airflow to the rear wing and better downforce levels."

Subtly different are the pod wings on the front of the sidepods and the area around the exhausts is now so slim as to place the cooling louvers near vertical, where as last year they were flat.

It is in the middle of the engine cover where BMW Sauber have found a new place to site bodywork. With such a low deck to the sidepods, the team have been able to extend the T-wings inboard to make a wide aerofoil.

Rampf described this as a "heck" (tail) wing. This is different to the shelf-like wings other teams place nearer the rear axle. Again Rampf suggests this is for more downforce, although the flat profile of the extension is probably for aiming flow to the rear wing than creating it itself.

This is a feature likely to be copied by other teams. Being in the middle of the car, potentially this 'heck' wing may be less sensitive to the car's attitude than the more rear-mounted versions.

Above this, the team have retained their Viking wings and have not slimmed the engine cover fin to the same degree as seen on other new cars this year.

On the launch car at least, there were no dimensional fins to suggest this area is narrower than the rules envisaged. The flanks of the sidepods sport the flip-up treatment seen on the car from late last season. Underneath the large flip-up is a small winglet.

The rear wheels also sport fairings, although versions fixed to the wheel unlike those on the front.

The suspension has all been changed to reflect the need for more grip and forgiveness, described by Rampf as "a new front axle and front axle kinematics to improve feedback for driver" and at the rear "a completely new development to maximise the grip potential of the tyres and to take away the peakiness of the handling."

The front suspension also required new uprights and hubs to accommodate the static wheel fairings.

Having been an engine supplier for most of their time in F1, the team were not able to develop the engine as fully as in previous seasons.

Team principal Mario Theissen commented that the gains were small and was proud to add "You always find something," suggesting that no performance has actually been lost during the conversion to run on the single ECU.

Rampf confident F1.08 is strong enough
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