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BMW Sauber F1.07

I was not going to deal specifically with each launch of the new F1 cars since the press are covering them quite adequately, but I find that I have been won over by the BMW Sauber site. Their car is just so pretty!

The new Ferrari is being talked about incessantly, the McLaren is parading around to much admiration (sorry, Ron, I disagree with your drivers – that color scheme is just plain ugly), even the Renault is pushing its way into the news (and it will take a while to get used to that dark blue). But no-one is taking much notice of the BMW so it seems allowable that I devote a post to my new enthusiasm. Take a look at this photo of the F1.07 in action and tell me it doesn’t look great – the white allows us to see the true shape of the car and the blue trim has been tastefully blended into the whole design.

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The finish on the car is excellent as well – easily up to Ferrari standards. But the real reason for this post is to parade the fact that I have now done my homework and know all about zero keels, single keels, V keels etc. Craig Scarborough has written a very good article that explains everything but, in a nutshell, the whole business of keels is caused by the necessity of raising the nose to get improved aerodynamics.

Raise the nose and you find difficulties in attaching the lower wishbones of the front suspension – suddenly there is empty space where there used to be chassis. Various solutions have been tried, most involving building extensions (known misleadingly as keels) downwards to allow attachment of the suspension. The single keel is a triangular section extending down from the chassis whereas Renault knocked a hole in the triangle to allow more airflow, thereby inventing the V keel. But the zero keel, apparently first used on the Spyker cars, gets rid of the keel altogether by angling the suspension upwards to attach to the chassis at an angle. This can be seen quite clearly on the F1.07 – note how the front suspension arms droop downwards from the body to the wheels.

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The benefits of the zero keel are purely aerodynamic in that the airflow is not interrupted by any extension to the chassis. There are disadvantages – the angled suspension allows for less adjustment to suit different conditions – but these are compensated for by the improved aerodynamics. At least, almost all the teams seem to think so, only Renault sticking with their V keel.

BMW Sauber have had their zero keel for a while now so they should know all about it. The changes they have made are mainly in the design of the front and rear wings, lower and more carefully shaped rear bodywork and a new quick shift gearbox. The fancy flip-ups attached to the sidepod cooling towers don’t even get a mention, however.

Take a look at this photograph taken from above the car – in spite of all the winglets and protuberances demanded by aerodynamics, it still forms a harmonious overall design.

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An old F1 saying is that what looks right, is right. If that is true, then the BMW has a very good chance in 2007. I wish the team well, although I’m still betting on Button for the championship.

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