The BMW WilliamsF1 team unveiled its new car the FW25, with an innovative chassis, strong engine and raised expectations, at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain. Team drivers Juan Pablo Montoya (COL) and Ralf Schumacher (GER) were scheduled to complete their first laps in the new FW25 to give their assessment of the new chassis and BMW's new P83 powerplant.
Patrick Head, Technical Director of WilliamsF1 commented, "The chassis derives little from previous cars. The approach has relied less on iteration, and instead has called for the generation of new ideas. 2002 showed us that our chassis was a model of reliability, but that there's still room for improvement particularly on the aerodynamic front. That's why the FW25 is a completely new race car."
The FW25 is shorter than the FW24, under the skin all of the key installations are reworked, not least of which is the drivetrain. In terms of the aero package, WilliamsF1 has approached this car with a new philosophy, which is apparent in the different visual appearance.
The FW25 was designed by a team led by Chief Designer Gavin Fisher at the WilliamsF1 headquarters in Grove, while the engine was designed at the BMW F1 factory in Munich under the guidance of Heinz Paschen (Director of F1 Development).
"To achieve our aims," added BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen, "We have built an even more powerful engine in Munich. Yet again, we were the first to test it on the track and even earlier than last year. The BMW P83, like its two predecessors, is designed to be the most powerful engine in Formula One."
Team Principal Frank Williams confirmed "We are well prepared and completely determined to get to the top. We have a new, innovative chassis as a product of a completely different way of thinking. And with the P83, BMW has developed another new and more powerful engine. With Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher we have two winning drivers ably assisted by a skilled and committed team. Moreover, we have been very impressed by the performance steps taken by Michelin over the winter."
Referring to the targets for 2003, BMW Motorsport Director Gerhard Berger said, "We want to pick up from where we left off in terms of our qualifying performance of 2002, especially under the new regulations for a single timed lap. But for the 2003 season we have firmly resolved to claim more wins and podium places. We're focused ahead while also keeping an eye on the competition in the rear-view mirror."
The partnership between WilliamsF1 and BMW enters its fourth year in 2003, and having so far demonstrated a year-on-year progression towards the ultimate goal of securing a world championship title by 2004, both organisations are acutely aware that there is significant expectation for the season ahead to realise the team's ultimate ambitions.
A major initiative has been underway since June 2002 to better integrate the WilliamsF1 and BMW operations. Process management improvements will more closely integrate the partnership, accelerating the exchange of information, linking production considerations between Oxford and Munich, and ultimately delivering developments to the track in a shorter and more effective fashion. However, with major changes envisaged after the January 15 FIA meeting, the season is certain to be less predictable.
In spite of what is widely regarded as a difficult economic climate, the BMW WilliamsF1 Team has maintained a strong commercial momentum going into the 2003 season. Before the New Year, the team announced renewals of long term associations with Accenture (September) and Petrobras (December), bringing the duration of these two partnerships to sixteen years in total. Reuters also announced a renewed association with the team, with their branding now visible on team assets such as radio headsets. With an established principal partnership with HP carrying over into 2003, other major sponsors such as Allianz, FedEx and 7 Up (who have increased their commitment to the team) are joined by two new global organisations for the new season ahead. Technical sponsors Castrol and Michelin continue to contribute vital technology and funds to the team.
Oris, the premium Swiss watch manufacturer join the BMW WilliamsF1 Team as an official supplier as do PPG, the industrial conglomerate, who will supply the team with specialist paint coatings.
In conclusion to a hectic commercial winter, BMW WilliamsF1 Team Principal Frank Williams said, "It is undoubtedly a tougher commercial terrain out there, but I am extremely pleased that the team has managed to buck the trend. It is heartening that both our existing partners continue to derive value from their association with Formula One, and that we have attracted valuable new partnerships with some extremely prestigious organisations."
Alongside Montoya and Schumacher, Spaniard Marc Gené, the team's official test driver, will support the car's development programme. The first official test session for the FW25 will start on the 1st of February at the Circuit de Catalunya.