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Interview with BMW's Mario Theissen
A massive technical challenge
January 8, 2004


The P84 is one of the aces up the BMW WilliamsF1 Teamís sleeve for the 2004 season. BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen tells us more about the engine.

Question: What does the regulation about increased engine running times for 2004 mean for BMW?

Mario Theissen: The benchmark of having to use only one engine for the entire Grand Prix weekend is actually a massive technical challenge. It doubles the running time to nearly 800 kilometres and means every component has to be designed to be more robust. This may require new conceptual solutions, and at the very least means changing the dimensions of existing components. There will be a trend for all components to get rather bigger and heavier. These requirements were already defined in 2002 and all the engine manufacturers have had sufficient time to ensure that the prescribed requirements are met. We have again brought forward our usual schedule. Test rig trials were already running for the BMW P84 in July 2003, and the engine constructed to the 2004 specification was tested in the vehicle for the first time on 4th September 2003.

Q: The final version of the BMW P83 engine achieved 19,200 rpm at the final Grand Prix in Japan. How high will the revs be on the P84?

Theissen: If the moving parts become bigger and heavier, the engine speed attainable falls and with it falls the power. Our development goal is to keep these effects to a minimum. However, I am anticipating a slight reduction in revs.

Q: Will the single engine rule reduce costs in Formula One?

Theissen: Yes, it is a correct step in this direction, although it isnít the case for development costs, and the costs of manufacturing an engine certainly wonít get any cheaper. However, as far as the bottom line is concerned, the lower number of engines for a race and test season should bring down the costs.

Q: What would be your ideal race calendar for Formula One?

Theissen: As an automobile manufacturer, we welcome the development of Formula One from a one-sided concentration on Europe to a genuine World Championship. It is an extremely attractive proposition as far as we are concerned to be able to use Formula One to demonstrate our technical expertise to emerging nations like China. The first venue in the Middle East also enriches the tournament from our perspective. The North American market is also particularly significant for us.

Q: How will development for volume production at BMW benefit from the F1 project?

Theissen: It will continue to benefit increasingly. Permanent exchange between motorsport and volume production is guaranteed by three links. The main driving force here is the BMW Research and Innovation Center. The Formula One Team is able to draw on its immense resources Ė mainly for expertise in materials research and electronics. As far as the BMW Research and Innovation Center is concerned, the F1 project with its extreme challenges presents an outstanding technology laboratory and a real accelerator of technology. Secondly, we have networked our F1 foundry with the foundry used for volume production, and thirdly, we have done the same with component production. Exchange of information is enhanced by spatial proximity and by overarching responsibilities. The F1 foundry and F1 component manufacture are operated by experts who also cast and machine components for volume production. In the final analysis, we generate innovations for the coming generation of BMW production engines within short timeframes. Our expanded co- operation with WilliamsF1 means that this also happens for volume gearboxes.

-BMW Williams-

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