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BMW Sauber
BMW Sauber F1 Team logo
Full name BMW Sauber F1 Team
Base Munich, Germany
Founder(s) Mario Theissen
Noted staff Mario Theissen
Peter Sauber
Willy Rampf
Noted drivers Germany Nick Heidfeld
Poland Robert Kubica
Germany Sebastian Vettel
Canada Jacques Villeneuve
Formula One World Championship career
Engines BMW P86/9
Debut 2006 Bahrain Grand Prix
Races competed 70
Constructors' Championships 0 (Best finish: 2nd - 2007)
Drivers' Championships 0 (Best finish: 4th - Robert Kubica, 2008)
Race victories 1
Podiums 16
Pole positions 1
Fastest laps 2
Final race 2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

BMW Sauber F1 is a Formula One team based in Hinwil, Switzerland and Munich, Germany. The team was formed at the end of 2005 as a result of a takeover of the existing Sauber Formula One team by German car manufacturer BMW after their partnership with Williams. The team scored two podium finishes and came fifth in 2006, its first season in Formula One. This was followed by a second place in 2007 after the McLaren team had been excluded from the championship. Polish driver Robert Kubica scored the team its first Grand Prix victory at the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix.

On 29 July 2009, BMW announced that it would be withdrawing from Formula One at the end of the 2009 season. The team cited "current developments in motorsport" as the reason for their decision.[1] With the future of the team uncertain, the FIA awarded their place for the 2010 season to the new Lotus F1 Racing, whilst giving them 14th slot, effectively making them first reserve should a position open up or the championship be extended to 14 teams.[2] On 15 September 2009 it was announced that the team had signed an agreement with QADBAK Investments Limited concerning a future purchase.[3]. BMW bowed out of F1 at the 2009 Abu Dhabi race clinching 6th place in the constructors standing from Williams, Nick Heidfeld scored the team's last points with a 5th placing at the same race.

On November 22, Swiss newspaper SonntagsZeitung revealed that Qadbak's attempt to purchase the team had failed as it did not have the necessary funds. Qadbak turned out to be a shell company with no assets and no investors behind it.[4]

BMW announced on November 27, 2009 that an agreement has been reached to sell its 80% stake to Peter Sauber. The deal was contingent on the team obtaining the 13th grid slot in the 2010 World Championship after the departure of Toyota, which was granted the following week. Another condition of the deal requires personnel cuts from 388 to around 250 employees.[5] Up to this date, BMW remained the official owner of BMW Sauber, and continued to pay employees' salaries[6] Although BMW are no longer involved, the team's official name is still BMW Sauber, as their entry to Formula One is logged in this way.



Peter Sauber built his first car in 1970, named the Sauber C1, which competed and won that year's Swiss Hillclimb event.[7] Further hillclimb events soon followed before turning his attention to sports car racing. The team enjoyed some success during the 1970s and 1980s. In 1989, it became the Mercedes-Benz works team, winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans in that year as well as the World Sportscar Championship, which they also won a year later.[8]

The Swiss team entered Formula One in the 1993 season, with engines supplied by Mercedes. The partnership with the German manufacturer lasted until 1994 when the marque switched over to the McLaren team. The Sauber team switched to Ford engines for 1995 and 1996 and then to Ferrari engines, badged as Petronas, from 1997 to 2005. Sauber never achieved a race win, pole position or fastest lap during its existence in Grand Prix racing although, with drivers Kimi Räikkönen and Nick Heidfeld, the team enjoyed their most successful season in 2001, where they finished fourth in the Constructors' Championship.[8]

BMW first competed in single seater racecars by supplying engines in the Formula Two category before moving up to Formula One with the Brabham team in 1982 which some resulted in a Drivers' Championship crown for Brazilian Nelson Piquet a year later. The manufacturer stayed in F1 until 1987, the rights of their engines were given to Megatron who continued to use them until 1988. However, twelve years later the manufacturer made a reappearance with another British team Williams. Although the partnership picked up a number of results, they could not find a World Title in either Driver or Constructors' Championships. During 2005 BMW ended its engine supply agreement with the Grove based team and bought Sauber.[9] Peter Sauber remained with the team as a consultant.

BMW Sauber F1



Nick Heidfeld took the team's first podium finish at the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix.
BMW Sauber put "Thanks Michael" messages on the back of their cars for Michael Schumacher's last Grand Prix in Brazil.

For the 2006 season BMW Sauber signed Nick Heidfeld from Williams to be their lead driver, while 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve had his existing Sauber contract confirmed. Pole Robert Kubica was signed as the team's third driver. The team continued to use Sauber's facilities, mostly for chassis construction and wind tunnel testing, while BMW's headquarters in Munich were responsible for building the new P86 V8 engine.

Former Sauber title sponsor Petronas renewed their contract with the new team, as a simple team sponsor, as did Credit Suisse. For the new season BMW Sauber announced a technical partnership with Intel, claiming that it will eventually lead to technological improvements available on BMW road cars.[10]

The new livery, unveiled in Valencia on 17 January 2006, was the traditional BMW blue and white with a hint of red.

Jacques Villeneuve scored the team's first points with a seventh place finish at the 2006 Malaysian Grand Prix, after Heidfeld retired from fifth with an engine failure late in the race. Over the first two thirds of the season the drivers picked up points with a succession of seventh and eighth place finishes.

The team ran a radical "twin towers" aero enhancement on the front of the car for the race in Magny-Cours, France, which was meant to direct airflow to the rear and thus improve performance.[11] This unconventional add-on was promptly banned by the FIA as it was adjudged to impede the drivers' vision and thus compromise safety.[12]

Heidfeld scored the team's first podium at the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix from 10th on the grid. Kubica stood in for Villeneuve, BMW stating that Villeneuve could not drive due to medical complications following his accident at the German Grand Prix. Kubica finished seventh, although he was later disqualified for an underweight car.[13] After the Hungarian Grand Prix, BMW announced that Kubica would complete the season for the Swiss team, spelling the end of former world champion Villeneuve's F1 career.[14]

Kubica scored BMW Sauber's second podium of the season at the Italian Grand Prix, after running in third place for most of the race and leading briefly during the first round of pit stops. Heidfeld struggled in the race and barely earned a point by finishing eighth. The team's fifth place in the constructor's championship was cemented by Heidfeld's two further points at the 2006 Chinese Grand Prix, and Toyota's early double retirement from the 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix.


Nick Heidfeld took BMW Sauber's best result of 2007 with second place at the Canadian Grand Prix.
Robert Kubica was the second team driver, here shown at the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix.

On 19 October 2006, it was announced that Robert Kubica would partner Nick Heidfeld for the 2007 Formula One season with Sebastian Vettel taking the test and reserve driver role. On 21 December, it was announced that Timo Glock had been signed as the team's second test driver.[15] The team launched their 2007 car, the F1.07, on January 16, 2007.[16]

The new car showed promising form throughout the winter testing, topping the times sheets on occasions. However, team principal Mario Theissen declared some reliability concerns before the season's opening race in Melbourne. Robert Kubica duly retired from 4th place mid-race with gearbox trouble, but Nick Heidfeld proved their pace in winter testing was no fluke as he raced to 4th place. Heidfeld has continued this success with two more 4th places in Malaysia and Bahrain respectively. Kubica finished 6th in Bahrain after retiring in Australia and mechanical trouble in Malaysia.

Their performance thus far had been such that many were saying a race win was likely after firmly establishing themselves as the best team behind championship leaders Ferrari and McLaren. Although the perceived performance gap between the two leaders and BMW Sauber was a fair amount, it was still less than that between BMW Sauber and the teams behind them.[17]

The Canadian Grand Prix brought mixed fortunes for the team. While Nick Heidfeld scored a 2nd place finish, Robert Kubica suffered a huge crash that resulted in a long safety car period. The media was initially told Kubica had broken his leg, but it later proved that he had escaped with only a sprained ankle and concussion.[18]

Sebastian Vettel took his place in the US Grand Prix, finishing in 8th place and therefore becoming the youngest driver to score a Formula One World Championship point. After the European GP, however, it was announced by Scuderia Toro Rosso that Vettel would take the second driver seat from Scott Speed.


BMW Sauber took a podium finish in the first race of the 2008 season, courtesy of Nick Heidfeld.
The Canadian Grand Prix saw Robert Kubica win his and BMW Sauber's first race.

On August 21, 2007, BMW confirmed its driver line-up of Heidfeld and Kubica for the 2008 season.[19] Their 2008 car, the F1.08 was officially launched in Munich at BMW Welt on January 14, 2008. It made its track debut at Valencia the next day, with Robert Kubica driving.

The BMW Sauber team has also introduced a new scheme for the team as a whole, every individual will get "fit for pole",[20] from the boss to the cleaners, meaning that the team will be in optimum fitness for the 2008 season. Team principal, Mario Theissen boldly targeted the young team's first Formula 1 victory for 2008, a bench-mark many outside the organization felt was overly ambitious.

BMW Sauber started the season well with Kubica narrowly missing out on pole after a mistake in his main qualifying lap in Melbourne. He later retired after being hit by Kazuki Nakajima but Heidfeld finished second. Kubica took second in Malaysia, with Heidfeld in 6th setting the fastest lap of the race. The team's points total of 11 was their largest score up to that time. In Bahrain, Kubica scored his and the team's first ever pole position, beating Felipe Massa by just under three hundredths of a second. The team went on to finish 3rd and 4th in the race, equalling their highest round points total and promoting them to first place in the constructors' championship for the first time.

The team also attained a second place finish in the Monaco Grand Prix with Robert Kubica, beating both Ferraris and only trailing the McLaren of Lewis Hamilton by three seconds.

BMW Sauber's first race victory came in the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix, the team achieving a one-two finish with Robert Kubica's first race win and Nick Heidfeld taking second place. The victory came after Lewis Hamilton collided with Kimi Räikkönen in the pitlane, ending the race for both drivers. Kubica was on a different refueling strategy from Heidfeld, who also briefly led the race before securing the one-two finish for BMW Sauber in comfortable fashion.

After the team's breakthrough win, development was switched to the 2009 season where new regulations come into play. This greatly annoyed Kubica, (who was leading the championship after the Canadian Grand Prix), as he felt they could have had a realistic chance of taking at least one title. The lack of development was reflected with a drop of form throughout the second half of the season, causing BMW to be outpaced by Renault, Toyota and even Toro Rosso (who started the season as one of the slowest teams) by the end of the season. Despite this, Kubica remained with an outside chance of taking the drivers championship until the Chinese Grand Prix, the 17th round out of 18.

In October the team confirmed that they would stick with Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld as their drivers for the 2009 Season.[21]


Although BMW Sauber targeted the 2009 season as the year they would challenge for the title, their start to the season has been a disappointment. Kubica was in 3rd place in the opening round, when he collided with Vettel while battling for 2nd place and was forced to retire. Heidfeld then secured the team's first podium of the year in Malaysia, but after 6 races BMW Sauber had collected a mere 6 points, and occupied 8th place in the Constructors' Championship out of 10 teams. A raft of upgrades were set for Turkey, including an improved regenerative braking system (KERS) and a double deck diffuser. While the new diffuser was implemented, the KERS could not be made to fit the new car and both drivers raced without the device. After the qualifying session for the British Grand Prix Mario Theissen announced that the team had decided to halt further development KERS; of which BMW had been one of the strongest proponents, and focus instead on improving the car's aerodynamics. This left Ferrari and McLaren as the only remaining users of the KERS system. In the European Grand Prix at Valencia Robert Kubica scored the team's first points since the race in Turkey.

Following a meeting of the BMW board on July 28, the company held at press conference the following morning in which it confirmed the team's withdrawal from Formula One at the end of 2009. Chairman Dr Norbert Reithofer described the decision as a strategic one.[22] The Formula One Teams Association released a statement in response pledging its support to help the team remain in F1.[23]

On 15 September 2009 it was announced that BMW Sauber had secured a buyer, Qadbak Investments Limited which said to represent European and Middle Eastern interests. However Lotus had been given the 13th and final slot in the 2010 Championship. The team were awarded what was termed a 14th entry, which hinges either on another team dropping out or all the other teams agreeing to allow 28 cars to enter the 2010 Championship.[24][25] With the withdrawal of Toyota it looks unlikely that 14 teams would make the grid in 2010 if allowed. The team will use Ferrari engines in 2010 if they are allowed to race.[26]

On November 27, 2009 it was announced that Peter Sauber would repurchase the team conditional upon the team receiving a FIA entry for the 2010 season.[27] The FIA subsequently granted Sauber an entry on December 3.[28]


BMW sold the team back to Peter Sauber after the conclusion of the 2009, and although the team is still known as BMW Sauber due to the FIA naming regulations, it is considered a continuation of the previous Sauber team. Pedro de La Rosa moved from McLaren to the the team, whilst Kamui Kobayashi moved from the retired Toyota to the team as well. The chassis is called Sauber C29.

Complete Formula One results

(key) (results in bold indicate pole position; results in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Chassis Engine Tyres Drivers 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Points WCC
Germany Nick Heidfeld 12 Ret 4 13 10 8 7 7 7 Ret 8 Ret 3 14 8 7 8 Ret
Canada Jacques Villeneuve Ret 7 6 12 8 12 14 8 Ret Ret 11 Ret Inj
Poland Robert Kubica TD TD TD TD TD TD TD TD TD TD TD TD DSQ 12 3 13 9 9
Germany Nick Heidfeld 4 4 4 Ret 6 2 Ret 5 6 6 3 4 4 5 14 7 6
Poland Robert Kubica Ret 18 6 4 5 Ret Inj 4 4 7 5 8 5 9 7 Ret 5
Germany Sebastian Vettel TD TD 8
Germany Nick Heidfeld 2 6 4 9 5 14 2 13 2 4 10 9 2 5 6 9 5 10
Poland Robert Kubica Ret 2 3 4 4 2 1 5 Ret 7 8 3 6 3 11 2 6 11
Poland Robert Kubica 15 Ret 13 18 11 Ret 7 13 14 13 8 4 Ret 8 9 2 10
Germany Nick Heidfeld 10 2‡ 12 19 7 11 11 15 10 11 11 5 7 Ret 6 Ret 5

‡ Half points awarded as less than 75% of race distance was completed



  • Straw, Edd (July 2008). "Reaching for the Ultimate Goal". Autosport 193 (5): 32–38. 


  1. ^ "BMW to quit F1 at end of season". BBC Sport. 29 July 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-29. 
  2. ^ Lotus name returns to F1
  3. ^ Qadbak(Qatar/Abu Dhabi/Bahrain/Kuwait) buy BMW F1 Team
  4. ^ SonntagsZeitung, 2009-11-22
  5. ^, 2009-11-27
  6. ^ 20 Minuten, 2009-11-18
  7. ^ "Grand Prix Encyclopaedia > Peter Sauber". Retrieved 2008-07-31. 
  8. ^ a b Sauber Retrieved 2 February 2007
  9. ^ BMW www.grandprix.comRetrieved 2 February 2007.
  10. ^ "BMW nets Intel sponsorship". BBC. 15 December 2005. Retrieved 2008-04-14. 
  11. ^ "Villeneuve sets Magny Cours pace". BBC. 15 July 2006. Retrieved 2008-04-14. 
  12. ^ "BMW ordered to remove nose fins". BBC. 25 July 2006. Retrieved 2008-04-15. 
  13. ^ 2006 Hungarian Grand Retrieved 2 February 2007.
  14. ^ "It's the end of the road for Villeneuve". London: The Times. 7 August 2006.,,5923-2302408,00.html. Retrieved 2008-04-15. 
  15. ^ "Glock signed as BMW second driver". 21 December 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-21. 
  16. ^ "The new BMW F1.07". 16 January 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-16. 
  17. ^ - Interview with Mario Thiessen.
  18. ^ "Kubica escapes injury after crash". BBC. 10 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-10. 
  19. ^ "Heidfeld and Kubica stay at BMW". BBC News. 21 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-21. 
  20. ^ "BMW Sauber gets 'Fit for Pole'". 
  21. ^ Kubica and Heidfeld stay with BMW BBC Sport Retrieved 8 October 2008
  22. ^ Noble, Jonathan (29 July 2009). "BMW will quit F1 at the end of 2009". Haymarket. Retrieved 2009-07-29. 
  23. ^ Perillo, Simone (29 July 2009). "Statement by FOTA Secretary General". Formula One Teams Association. Retrieved 2009-07-29. 
  24. ^ BMW F1 team secures Swiss buyer
  25. ^ BMW expects team to race in 2010
  26. ^ Jonathan Noble and Matt Beer (24 September 2009). "Theissen confirms Ferrari engine deal". Haymarket Publications. Retrieved 2009-09-24. 
  27. ^ Pablo Elizalde (27 November 2009). "BMW sells F1 team back to Peter Sauber". Haymarket Publications. Retrieved 2009-11-28. 
  28. ^ Noble, Jonathan (2009-12-03). "Sauber secures 2010 Formula 1 slot". (Haymarket Publications). Retrieved 2009-12-03. 

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