2003 Formula BMW
2003 Formula BMW #FB02-SR100
1,171cc K1200 inline four-cylinder, 140 hp @ 9,000 rpm
From 1967 to 1984, the European Formula Two series served as a point of entry for young drivers, and BMW’s engine program with March gave it access to a steady stream of new talent through F2. In 1977, BMW Motorsport did something revolutionary, becoming the first manufacturer to create a Junior Team designed to turn young drivers into professionals. In its first year, the Junior Team of Marc Surer, Manfred Winkelhock and Eddie Cheever got plenty of coaching and other assistance as they raced a Group 5 320i in the German national series, and all three made it to F1.
BMW’s involvement with F1 gave it an incentive to develop drivers in open-wheelers, and in 1991 the company joined forces with ADAC (the Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil Club) to create the Formula BMW ADAC series. At first an engine supplier, BMW took over the series in 2002, supplying complete cars and organization.
F-BMW was open to drivers 16 and older with no prior international racing experience other than karting. From Germany, it expanded to Europe, the UK, Asia (from 2003) and the US (in 2004). From 2005 to 2008, a Formula BMW World Final pitted the top drivers from each series against each other at the end of the season.
Running in support of F1 and GT racing worldwide, Formula BMW gave young drivers priceless exposure to professional racing, plus invaluable assistance with fitness training, nutrition, media relations, vehicle dynamics, and—with help from onboard data recording—car setup. The latter was crucial, since all F-BMW cars were mechanically identical. Penned by Michael Scully at BMW DesignworksUSA and manufactured by Mygale in France, the cars had carbon-Kevlar composite tubs and fully adjustable double-wishbone suspension at all four corners. A 1,171cc K1200RS four-cylinder BMW motorcycle engine was mounted behind the driver, delivering 140 horsepower through a single-plate clutch and a Hewland 6-speed sequential transmission with changeable ratios. Brake bias and wing angles were also adjustable. Testing was limited, and drivers were prohibited from racing more than two events in other series. As the series was meant to be affordable, the cars were, too, selling for around $70,000 including spare parts. The car seen here, FB02-SR 100, is owned by Classic BMW of Plano, Texas.
Graduates include world champions Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg, plus an astounding number of drivers who made it to F1, DTM, IndyCar, or IMSA: Ralf Schumacher, Sebastian Buemi, Timo Glock, Esteban Gutiérrez, Nico Hulkenberg, Sergio Pérez, Martin Tomczyk, Marco Wittmann, Daniil Kvyat, Marcus Ericsson, Adrian Sutil, Tommy Milner, Bruno Senna, Daniel Ricciardo, Carlos Sainz Jr., Simona de Silvestro, Joey Hand, James Hinchcliffe, Graham Rahal, Alexander Rossi, Sebastián Saavedra, Jonathan Summerton, Daniel Morad, Robert Wickens…the list goes on.
F-BMW ended in 2010, a year after BMW withdrew from F1, and BMW has since reinstated its traditional Junior Team program.