This was a training program I took last November in Shanghai F1 International Circuit. BMW brought a fleet of BMW Formula cars and team from Germany to throw a week's training for customers, mostly die-hard bimmer owners.
The BMW formula car, FB02, features a monocoque chassis, a 140-hp BMW motorcycle engine and a 6-speed sequential gear box. Power to weight ratio is 1hp:3.5kg (M3's is 1:4). 0-100kmh 3.5 seconds. Maximum speed 230kmh. It weighs just 440 kgs. With slick tyres, it corners like hell. At many corners where M3 has to slow down to avoid understeer, FB02 can soar through them with full throttle.
The day FB02 arrived at the circuit. It came in a special loader than can fit 4 cars in a container.
Started to come in shape
Shock absorbers and fishbones at the front
This is what the cockpit looks like. Simple. Not as fancy as the F1 but the layout is basically the same. No paddle shifter. The sequential shifter is rock hard. You really have to hammer it. The brake paddle is also hard since there is no force assistance. The seat is just a thin sheet of carbon fibre and Kevlar so foams are needed to fit different body sizes and shapes. Drivers actually lie, not sit, in the cockpit.
The rear suspension, gear box and engine
This angle shows clearly the carbon fibre monocoque
The tiny screen on the steering wheel shows a lot of data. In the picture is a lap time. M3's best time (stock, no mods) on Shanghai F1 Circuit was 2'32" by a racing driver. FB02's best is around 2'15". My time is 2'29", which means I am faster than a racing driver in M3.
Suit up and gear up. FIA approved racing suits, helmets, gloves and shoes are a must. BMW provides everything. BWM even sent two German ladies all the way along just to manage the wardrobe.
Mechanics were preparing the cars. The battery on board is tiny so every time the car starts, a handheld battery is plugged in the provide power. The battery on board can sustain only one start. If it spins in the track, the driver has only one chance to start the engine again.
Ready to roll out.