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BMW Sauber

After a dramatically improved 2006 season BMW Sauber expect great things for 2007 and expect to be challenging the top teams for podiums and wins.

They retain as No 1 the quick young German who got first drive of the new car, "Everything worked trouble free", said Heidfeld.”The car felt good right from the beginning, but also unfamiliar. Of course you don't go to the limit straight away with a brand new car. First you do systems' checks; you monitor temperatures and such things. During the first three laps I was one second quicker each lap. This obviously shows I was still far away from the limit, but it is also nice. I couldn't wait for this day. Within the last months in the factories in Hinwil and Munich everybody was working unbelievably hard. The team is full of ambition and motivation. We are facing an exciting season”.

Already they are well up all of the testing time charts and the car both looks well and seems to be going quickly and reliably.

At the final day of the last European test before the start of the Formula 1 season the cars covered two thousand reliable and fast kilometres. Next the team move on to testing in Bahrain on 22/23/24 February and then on the 27/28 February/1 March. Nick Heidfeld, Robert Kubica and Sebastian Vettel will all be driving in Bahrain as they prepare for Melbourne. The team are looking forward to seeing how the car acts in hot weather conditions.

BMW have high expectations for 2007, they expect regular podiums and perhaps wins.


Red Bull

Until the most recent tests, where David Coulthard topped the final day's time sheets things, seemed not to be all well with Red Bull in testing, multiple breakdowns and lap times a second or more slower than the top teams seem surprising but the all new Adrian Newey car seems to be an elegant design with perhaps more teething problems than some of the more evolutionary designs from the other teams.

Perhaps they have now chosen to take a little of the sand out of the sandbags?

The driver line up of old hand David Coulthard and the new boy the experienced Mark Webber had seemed a bit disappointed so far if their body language was any guide but any Newey designed car can’t be that bad, watch them closely in Bahrain, I think they’ll surprise a few pundits who had already written off their 2007 challenge.

Interestingly, the difficulties so far seem to have cemented a strong bond between the two drivers, they’ll still compete on track of course but it’s clear they are working closely together to the team’s benefit.

As with any new car, the focus has been on evaluating the many new systems, not least the integration with the new Renault engine, as well as sorting out software on elements such as traction control, gear selection and engine braking.

"We have had some teething problems which means we did not complete as many laps early in testing as we would have liked, " said Head of Race and Test Engineering, Paul Monaghan. "However, we have learnt a lot and come up with fixes for some of the problems we have encountered and made progress throughout the four days. We are already building up a good relationship with the guys at Renault and we are now looking forward to an even more productive test in Bahrein with two cars and both race drivers."

It  is  an  often  cited  statement  that  setting  quick  lap  times  in  winter  testing means nothing at all come the start of the season, often cited by the slowest runners that is. But right or wrong, a quick lap time sure is good for morale!

"We are very pleased with the way this three day test has gone, " said Paul Monaghan. "And yes, it's nice to see David is quickest, at least  for  today,  but  more  impressive  is  the  fact  he  completed  116 laps."

A quick reality check came from the fact that, in the other car, Mark Webber did not get so much running today because of a drive train problem. "But we are confident we can get on top of that, ” continued Monaghan.  "We  can  be  happy  with  the mileage  we have completed over the three days and also with the fact that our relationship with Renault and Bridgestone continues to improve, as has the overall performance and reliability  of  the  car.  Now  we  look  forward  to  more  work  on  both  these parameters when we head off for hotter conditions at the Bahrain test, starting on 22 February."

Red Bull struggled in 2006 with a car that defied any attempts to improve it, I don’t expect the same to happen in 2007, the combined talents and experience in the team will surely make them among the top mid field runners with points and perhaps even podiums a realistic prospect.

Article © 2007 Graham Benge

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