News and views on motorsports

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Sauber's BMW deal have reported that BMW have agreed to supply the Swiss team with power units from next year. PlanetF1 report here. However, in an ITV-F1 here, BMW claims that no deal has been reached as yet. Sauber are also reportedly unhappy with Frank Williams for spilling the beans. Frank Williams is quoted as saying: "They have decided to go with Sauber." Whatever the situation may be, I'm pretty sure that a deal must be close for Frank have made such claims. After all, Mario Thiessen must have revealed the name of their new customer to Frank for his consideration.

What is suprising about this whole affair is the speed from which the story turns from rumour to an admission by the parties involved that they are in negotiation. This confirms my belief that when Peter Sauber signed up Jacques Villeneuve last year, he must have had plans for an engine switch in place. He must have told Jacques about this to entice him over to the team.

Another surprise is how quickly the Sauber team have switched from close Ferrari ally to nailing the coffin on their relationship. At the start of 2004, things could not seem better between the two teams. The Sauber C23 after all is an updated F2003-GA. Sauber might deny that and some fans would deny it also, by look at a technical illustration comparing the two cars side by side, and you will notice not only similarity but they are indentical. From head on the C23 looked almost identical, the differences explained by the changes in the rulebook dictating detailed aerodynamic changes. Otherwise it is the same car.

Sauber may claim that they share many common components with Ferrari, but I don't think anyone is fooled, they share entire chassis and engines. Furthermore, both Giancarlo Fisichella and Filipe Massa were held by Ferrari as optional test drivers. Only a question of sponsorship stopped Fisichella from jumping into a scarlet car. Sauber in effect, has long been named the Ferrari B-team.

So what happened during the course of 2004? That's what I'd like to know. Perhaps, one can speculate that this being the Piranha club, minds are fickle from one moment to the next. Perhaps Peter Sauber is like the rest of the teams, grown weary with the ways of Ferrari and the FIA. Maybe, its just the racer in Peter. After all, he's been around for sometime. In that time, he's seen teams like Renault and BAR come up the ranks to challenge the dominant three, whilst his team languishes as ever in midfield. With all his shiny new facilities in place, perhaps he wants to move his team up a notch. I'm sure now at least, he switched to Michelins because he wanted a tyre company that wouldn't be all about one (scarlet) team's needs.

Perhaps it was a combination of all these things. Its just that whatever decision Peter Sauber made, it seemed very sudden given the status quo in the early part of 2004.

We await the official BMW announcement. At this moment, I'd say Frank Williams comments are spot on.

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