The BMW Sauber team brings together two countries wherein BMW represents the German half of the team while Sauber forms the Swiss counterpart. Peter Sauber began the Formula One team as a privateer outfit and was against teaming up with a manufacturing giant for quicker progress. Peter Sauber gave in to Mercedes’ invite but the relationship fell through after numerous disappointing results. In 1994, Ford was chosen as the saviour and things drastically improved. Heinz Harald Frentzen finished on the podium in the 1995 Belgian Grand Prix and showed how things were changing at the team.
Sauber soon shifted to Ferrari engines and that led to the name ‘Petronas’ being added to the end of the team’s name. Thus Sauber became Sauber Petronas but the name change, that lasted from 1997 to 2005, didn’t bring about any change in the fortunes as the team failed to score a race win, pole position or even a fastest lap time in those years in Formula One. In 2001, the team pulled off a massive fourth place in the constructors’ championships after Kimi Raikkonen and Nick Heidfeld drove like heroes.
Ferrari was then shown the door as BMW decided to come in and the new team signed Nick Heidfeld. Villeneuve, who was at the team, was not needed and BMW made the situation rather apparent. BMW-Sauber didn’t manage much and things just kept going downhill. Villeneuve’s alarming rate of crashing the car led to an early debut for test driver Robert Kubica.
Kubica was effective from the word go. At the Hungarian Grand Prix, he ended up on the podium, Heidfeld had two point finishes and BMW-Sauber were fifth in their debut season. In 2007, BMW came second only due to McLaren’s disqualification after the spying issue. 2007 not only saw BMW emerge as a major contender, it proved that they had the reliability to add to the strong performance of the car. The retains the same lineup in 2008 and will hope that Heidfeld and Kubica can lead them to their first ever win in Formula One.