BMW Sauber F1.08
By: Jeremy McMullen
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By: Jeremy McMullen
| In 2006, the newly formed team of BMW and Sauber was able to achieve an impressive fifth place in the constructor's championship title. Then, in 2007, the team looked good early on with either Nick Heidfeld or Robert Kubica coming in fourth place each of the first four races. These performances caused McLaren-Mercedes boss Ron Dennis to publicly announce he thought the team's performance was more the result of racing on lighter fuel loads than merely the team's improvements. Yet, out of those fourth place finishes there was one that made the Formula One world sit-up and take notice, and that took place at the Bahrain grand prix. In the late stages of the race Heidfeld pulled off an impressive pass on two-time world champion Fernando Alonso in his McLaren-Mercedes. And with that, BMW Sauber officially entered the title picture. The question stands, however, how high can BMW Sauber get and how fast?
Coming into 2008 there are many changes with which teams have to contend. Could these changes help BMW or could they prove to be a hindrance to the team's plan of being F1's best? The challenges that faced the team appeared daunting. Traction control is banned for 2008, as well as, many other electronic aids that have helped the cars stay glued to the track. With wheel slippage back in play for this season it was paramount BMW gave their drivers a well balanced and fast car to give the team any chance of fighting for any title. However, given last year's on-track performance it was obvious BMW would have a good platform to improve upon. Therefore, it is not inconceivable that this year's car would have minor only changes over last year's chassis.
Right away, the design team's tweaking can be seen. The design team has retooled a chassis with a narrower nose than the F1.07. The front wing is an area that constantly undergoes changes throughout the season, and so, it is not surprising that the F1.08 has a differently shaped front wing than that appeared on the F1.07 at its launch or at any time throughout last season. Last season's wing was more contoured with a more shapely spoon under the nose. This year's car has more of a box design incorporated into the front wing under the nose. The F1.07 was introduced last year with half-length upper-profile wings but was later dropped during the season. On top of this, at the time of the F1.07's launch, the front wing was only made up of a double-deck design. This too was abandoned during the season for the more popular tri-deck front wing design. Given the box-shaped spoon under the nose the leading edge on the F1.08 has a more pronounced gull-wing look. The tri-deck design has remained on the car's front wing. However, the most radical design feature found on the F1.08, and any other F1 car this season for that matter, is the addition of the 'wings' to the top of the nose. The team reshaped the camera housings on both sides to help direct the airflow toward these 'wings', which in turn, help direct airflow toward the radiators and the rear of the car. These 'wings' help with the stability of the car while not adding anymore downforce, and thus, drag.
Like its 2007 predecessor, the 2008 chassis utilizes the zero-keel design. This removes any obstructions underneath the nose bulkhead. This allows undisturbed air to strike the splitter directly under the driver that then directs airflow around the car. The suspension and wishbone design on the new car remains relatively unchanged from the F1.07. At the time of the unveiling, the F1.08's sidepod 'ears' were slightly enlarged over last year's design to help control the airflow around the sidepods. However, early on in the season BMW Sauber incorporated an integrated sidepod 'ear' and bargeboard design. This further aids in providing airflow control as the airflow is able to be routed from just behind the front wing all the way to and around the sidepods. This system helps the radiators to be most efficient while also limiting the drag, or buildup of airflow as it passes around the sidepods. The radiator inlets have further been refined, as they are pulled in tighter in at the bottom than that was incorporated on the F1.07. All of these improvements go to help improve stability of the car, which is of great paramount.