New Sauber/BMW era already underway

According to our spies in France report, on the Monday and Tuesday before the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours, BMW Motorsport director Mario Theissen visited the Hinwil factory for the first time. BMW has also started to increase the technical staff, mostly with engineers from their own company.

But, there is still a lot more work to do ahead of next season, and one of those tasks is to organize drivers. As Williams owns the contracts with Heidfeld and test driver Nico Rosberg, there might be a negotiation between the two that may see BMW reduce the charge for their 2006 engine supply, if Williams carries on for another year with them.

Apart from Heidfeld and Rosberg, the Bavarian manufacturer is also checking the current driver market and is looking closely at the performances of the team's current drivers, Massa and Villeneuve. According to sources from inside Williams, BMW actually tried to buy Kimi Raikkonen from McLaren, but soon discovered that the young are locked in there until the end of 2006.

According to further sources, Barrichello is also on their short list and BAR is interested in the Brazilian Ferrari driver as well. This might explain why Rubens has started to be somewhat critical of his team and teammate, Michael Schumacher. He is also under contract with Ferrari until 2006. Tag-Heuer

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