Formula 1 Insight

BMW Horns in on the Big Time
In testing at Valencia this week, BMW has surprised everyone with a strange antler arrangement sprouting from the nose of their new car, the F1.08. This reminds one instantly of the two towers that appeared in the same place on the BMW of last year before they were banned for driver visibilty reasons; but the new winglets are angled outwards rather than upwards and so avoid obscuring the driver's vision.

BMW F1.08 testing

Autosport magazine reckons that the device induces "a spiralling wake over the car, with the aim of creating more downforce at the rear of the car" but I think they are missing something very obvious. Remember those fly deflectors that you could stick on the hood of your car and so avoid having squashed insect all over your windshield? Well I reckon BMW has invented a sexier and more up-to-date fly deflector.

With no more fly splats on their visors, Heidfeld and Kubica will be able to carry fewer tear-off strips. And this leads to less excess weight being carried, thus giving the car a decisive advantage in the race. Quite simple and very effective - spiralling wake, my foot.

The confidence inspired by this significant breakthrough is reflected in Dr Theissen's sudden certainty that the team can compete with Ferrari and McLaren this year. In contrast to his previous guardedly optimistic statements, he is now predicting that BMW will be a top team in 2008.

Nick Heidfeld, too, has been uncharacteristically bullish since the unveiling of the new car but his enthusiasm seems to have abated somewhat after his first runs at Valencia. There is a problem with the balance of the car apparently, although he expects that they will have it right before the first race of the season - "we know where we have to work".

This is almost certainly a reference to the fly deflector, its alteration of the aerodynamics having caused an unexpected side effect of instability. But BMW are ahead of the game - already they have improved fly deflectors on the way, as evidenced by Nick's next words: "There are some parts still in the wind tunnel which are not on the car yet". The delay in getting these to Valencia has no doubt been caused by the scarcity of flies around Hinwil in winter and the resulting slowdown in wind tunnel testing.

Out on the track, the deflector is already proving its worth. The Ferraris were quick yesterday, the BMW disappointingly slow (no deflector, you see), but today Heidfeld has the car right up with the leading McLarens, Ferraris and, surprisingly, Rosberg's Williams. Just wait until the new deflectors arrive from the factory!


Steven Roy
The fly deflector is a very cunning device. The sort of thing Colin Chapman or Gordon Murray would have come up with.

I assume the new fly deflector in the wind tunnel is designed to deflect the flies into the visor of an overtaking driver so that eveyone else will have to wear extra tear-offs.

Either that or they are bringing out a version for the dominant insect at each track.
Date Added: 23/01/2008

I think you're on to something there, Steven. It would be typical of German efficiency to have a deflector specifically designed for the insect life of each track!
Date Added: 23/01/2008


I really want to see the Old Frank back at the top again. He deserves. When a saw the Nico´s time laps yesterday, I imagined the Frank return as a kind of Don Quijote whose fight against the giant mills of the great corporations. Obviously be in “Valencia/Spain” is coincidence and a great and fortunate sign…!

(I wrote about it in my blog!)


Date Added: 23/01/2008

Dan M
Maybe BMW is trying to delve deeper into its Germanic roots. Maybe they can bypass Rome and go steal some hardware from Maranello.

By the way, this car is about as horny as a 15 year old boy in sex ed class....... Sorry I couldn't help myself.
Date Added: 24/01/2008

I agree, Becken, it certainly looks as though Williams is on the up again, judging from Nico's excellent times in testing. Notice that Nakajima has been doing well, too - yesterday he was quicker than Nico!
Date Added: 25/01/2008

Horny or not, it seems the car needs work yet, Dan. Early testing times have not been good.
Date Added: 25/01/2008

Steven Roy
Maybe this is due to a variation of the old British Rail problems. Wrong kind of insects at the track.
Date Added: 25/01/2008

I think you've put your finger on the problem again, Steven. BMW obviously need to get a bit more homework done on what sort of insects are flying about in Spain at this time of the year. McLaren or Ferrari would have a man at each track letting them know which deflector to bring.
Date Added: 25/01/2008

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