Source: BMW Group
Munich, 16 September 2005. BMW and Nick Heidfeld will embark on a joint future in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship in 2006. The Munich automobile manufacturer has concluded a three-year contract with the racing driver from Mönchengladbach (28). This fills the first cockpit in the new team run by BMW. BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen comments: "For us, a new era in Formula 1 will begin on 1 January 2006 when BMW takes over the team operated by Peter Sauber. We are very pleased that Nick will be with us in what will undoubtedly be a difficult initial phase. He is not simply a fast and courageous driver, he is also an analytical and meticulous worker. Nick already knows the two sites in Munich and Hinwil, and is familiar with everybody involved."
Heidfeld, who is currently recovering from a cycling accident in his adopted home of Switzerland, said: "I'm really looking forward to the future. As far as I'm concerned, this represents the fulfilment of a big dream. I have a great deal of respect for the work carried out in Hinwil from 2001 to 2003. And for nearly a year now, I've experienced at first hand the commitment and resources BMW puts into its Formula 1 project. Naturally, I'm not expecting a miracle during the first season after a new start in 2006. But I'm confident that the new team will be successful over the long term." Heidfeld has been lining up on the grid for the BMW WilliamsF1 Team since 2005. He achieved his first F1 pole position in May at the Nürburgring and took second place in two races (Monaco and Nürburgring).
On 22 June 2005, BMW announced it would be running its own Formula 1 team from 2006 after acquiring a majority holding in the Swiss team Sauber. BMW has been racing in Formula 1 as partner of WilliamsF1 since the 2000 season. The team has now competed in 101 grands prix, achieved 10 victories and 17 pole positions. Second place in the Constructors' Championship for 2002 and 2003 provided the best season's result.
The Sauber Team has been operating in Formula 1 since 1993. The team became established as the most successful private team when it took fourth place in the Constructors' Championship in 2001.
BMW will not only retain the Hinwil site, it will expand the workforce from a current headcount of nearly 300 to some 400 employees. Around 300 people are working on the Formula 1 project at BMW Motorsport in Munich. Theissen explains: "Overall, we will have a team numbering around 700. Expansion of the aerodynamic department in Hinwil has top priority. At present, it isn't possible to fully exploit the opportunities offered by the first-class wind tunnel, because there are not the personnel to operate several shifts. We are gradually working towards using the facility round the clock."