Launches 2009: BMW Take The Wraps Off The F1.09

Launches 2009: BMW Take The Wraps Off The F1.09

BMW became the most recent team to unveil their 2009 challenger to the world, named the F1.09 and being photographed at the Valencia track in Spain. The team were on hand to talk about the new car and Robert Kubica was given the maiden drive as the Pole completed a few installation laps to ensure everything was working. Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen the BMW F1.09, as the team have been testing an interim car for much of the winter.

The F1.09 sports the new narrow rear wing mounted higher than previous, and an adjustable front wing that sits lower and is much wider. The bodywork features no winglets or flick-ups, although the yellow warning sticker for the KERS sticks out like a sore thumb.

Last year BMW did well and won their first race, courtesy of Robert Kubica. Nick Heidfeld had a more troubled season but still managed to haul in a bounty of points which ultimately left the team just behind Ferrari and McLaren. Kubica was in the title hunt right up to the final few races and the Hinwil-based team will want to improve on this for 2009.

Last year we saw that working together we can achieve good result. For the first half of the season, we were title contenders. We were leading the drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships at certain points of the season.

Everyone remembers how it finished, and we will try to repeat the first half of the season and finish better than last year. Robert Kubica.

One of the problems the team faced during the last campaign was keeping up with the development. BMW started the season strongly, but gradually slipped off the pace. This caused some heavy criticism from Kubica, who was very outspoken about the direction the team was taking. However, with a ban on in-season testing now in place, the rate of development from the top teams will slow a little, and this could play right into the hands of BMW.

Developing a new Formula One car is always exciting, but this time there was something even more special about it. We really were starting from scratch.

First and foremost, the switch from grooved tyres to slicks means more grip, of course, but it also moves the balance of forces further forward: removing the grooves gives the front tyres proportionally a greater contact area and more grip than the rear tyres.

Because the car differs so significantly from its predecessor, we already started work on the first concept studies in February – two months earlier than normal and before the F1.08 had even started its first race. Willy Rampf.

BMW were also one of the first teams to test a KERS system, and just prior to Christmas, it was said that the squad were at such an advanced stage with the technology, they were even testing out differing strategies with it.

At BMW we have always used the Formula One project as a technology laboratory for series production. With KERS this approach takes on a whole new dimension. Formula One will reposition itself and undergo a change of image, allowing the sport to take significant strides forward in terms of public acceptance. Mario Theissen.

However, at the launch of the F1.09, team boss Mario Theissen did admit that the system may not be ready in time for Australia. And if BMW are now saying they may not have KERS ready in time, where does that leave Ferrari who have been saying the same for a while now!?

Looking back to when we started more than a year ago on KERS, that time was pure research. Then we went through a stage I would call pre-development. Now we are in the development stage.

We are still not ready to race, but if I look at what progress we have made in last 12 months, it’s amazing. We have learned so much.

We are still pushing hard. We are not ready yet. I am sure we will be ready at some point, I don’t know whether we will be ready for Melbourne. Mario Theissen.

And finally, just a quick note to say that Nick Heidfeld has dramatically changed his helmet design. Although Alonso has also altered his, the difference wasn’t enough to warrant a note in yesterday’s post. But as Heidfeld’s is substantially different (green), I added a photo below.

BMW F1.09 Launch

BMW F1.09 Launch

BMW F1.09 Launch

BMW F1.09 Launch

BMW F1.09 Launch

BMW F1.09 Launch

BMW F1.09 Launch

BMW F1.09 Launch

BMW F1.09 Launch

BMW F1.09 Launch - Nick Heidfeld Helmet

BMW F1.09 Launch - Robert Kubica Helmet

Photos © BMW AG.


  • The middlepart of the car car really looks like the Willams, doesn’t it. I don’t think they copied it as there wasn’t enough time for it, but it’s interesting to see the first really compareable solution on any of the new cars.

    Everything else is nearly as expected from the interims-car… beside the rear wing really doesn’t look as weird as the other one.

    So, worst thing of that car for me is that fat nose, the stupid looking front wing (but I bet we will see a completely different one in Melbourne) and yes – the livery on the nose. I don’t understand, how you could stay with those thin lines if you got such a flat and wide nose… oO.

  • None of the teams have produced a really beautiful car this year,(waiting for Newey’s red bull), the williams is one of the better looking ones though.

    At the end of the day how the car looks doesn’t count for anything and i expect the BMW’s to be right at the front of the grid in Australia.

  • So, worst thing of that car for me is that fat nose, the stupid looking front wing (but I bet we will see a completely different one in Melbourne) and yes – the livery on the nose.

    It’s interesting that many teams have gone for a fat, broad nose this year. Obviously the designers know infinitely better than me, but it does seem strange that so many have gone down that route.

    Does anyone know what benefits the car with a broader nose? And why the teams didn’t use such a design previously, instead most opting for a pointy-down one? Must be something to do with reclaiming lost downforce by forcing the air in a different way around the car, but I was wondering if anyone had a definite answer…

    At the end of the day how the car looks doesn’t count for anything and i expect the BMW’s to be right at the front of the grid in Australia.

    Oh definitely. I think a Formula One car should look good naturally, because it is meant to be sleek, aerodynamic and the “perfect” shape. However, sometimes teams will produce a car that is a bit weird, perhaps non-conformist even, but go like the wind. Therefore, fingers crossed for BMW and Renault!

  • I’m not much into aerodynamics, at least not more than anybody else who followed F1 for the last ~14 years and made is own thinkings of everything we have seen in these years, but:

    – it could be, that because it seems no longer to be allowed to have a downforce-element in the middle of the front-wing, the complete airflow around the nose, especialle the lower side has changed completely. Remember last years frontwings had a very high downforce generation on the rear part of the frontwing (and the airflow there was tunnelized through that whole in the ferrari nose). This no longer happens now there, so the nose might have to be very flat, or nearly completely round, like on the MP4-24/F60 at the lower side to generate as less upforce as possible.

    What wonders me most is, that noone yet tried it with a flat nose like in the early ’90s. I don’t think these noses have been banned in the reglementations and it would make a lot more sense. The flat nose would work as a Wing for itself, while allowing the electonically adjustable parts to be wider AND make it alot easier to control them via the new button in the cockpit. A flat nose in my opinion also makes it easier to get a soft streamline under the car… but… i might be wrong with that as the underbody has changed a lot in the last decade.

    Just some thoughts. Maybe someone is more into aerodynamics and could tell us?

  • has some interesting articles about the new noses. From what i understand (which isn’t usually that much), with the lowered aerodynamic downforce and more mechanical grip from the slick tyres, the cars need more weight towards the front, and the bigger noses let the teams add more ballast in the right places. That, and all kinds of aerodynamic magic to move the air towards the right places.

    Totally unrelated, there are also new challenges in cooling. The regulations allow a lot fewer openings on the sidepods, so it’s harder to get the heat out of the radiators.

  • this BMW is one of the uglier looking 2009 cars (meaning the shape, not livery), right there with Renault … I however have this feeling that the ugly cars may do well this season …

  • I hadn’t thought about the use of a wide nose to store ballast. That is an interesting idea. I think it was an analysis of the Renault i read which said the underside of the nose was shaped to create a little downforce. I think the use of aerodynamic fences low in the nose of the Renault in particular suggest an aerodynamic motivation.

    I have a feeling that there is a rule limiting the amount of ballast that can be put in the nose to limit the damage that can be done in a crash.

  • The worst thing I have seen is the front nose of the new Renault. I think it will be very difficult for the others to make something worse 😛

  • Thanks Alianora.

    Not sure why I thought that rule existed. Maybe something Max suggested at some time to limit the amount of weight being moved forward.

  • I hadn’t thought about the use of a wide nose to store ballast.

    Renault seem to like storing things in their noses. They used the nose for their damper system a few years back, and now ballast! What else are intending on putting in there, Alonso’s lunch, maybe a widescreen TV to keep Piquet amused during races…!?

  • Steven, I think you’re right that the possibility of bringing in that rule was seriously discussed a few years back.

    Oliver White, love the idea of storing lunches and TVs in the Renault nosecone 😀

    It’s a good thing cars don’t catch colds though…

  • A very clean design, but with all these new ’09 cars, they would look so much better with wider rear withs and less boxy front wings. I can’t wait to see them all on the grid for the first race!

  • I agree, can’t wait for the first race and to hear the bbc intro music (the chain by fleetwood mac) again!

    The cars aren’t as good looking as previous years but once the designers get used to the rules and ways to get around them im sure they’ll have them looking a bit nicer. I quite like the williams, its probably one of the better looking cars. I also think that this years BM is better looking than last years car!

    I wonder if we will get to see the honda? Im thinking no at the moment but it seems such a shame because i really thought RB would turn it around and JB could be at the front again. Any news on this?

  • I assume there is no truth in the rumour that it holds a pop up sat nav for Piquet. {Steven Roy – 3 comments ago}

    Nah – he should know his way round by now. If he doesn’t, then Renault will want him out of the way, and you don’t need a satnav to find the exit door of a modern F1 team…

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