The BMW Sauber F1 Team rolled out the new F1.06 racecar Tuesday in Valencia, Spain, in front of a horde of journalists. Testing of the new car began today, and will continue through January 19.

BMW Motorsport Director, Prof. Mario Thiessen, speaking at the launch, cautioned that 2006 will be a transition year for the team, as BMW moves from its engine-suppler role with BMW Williams in 2005, to the more challenging role of team owner in 2006.

More pics and info after the jump. Thiessen said BMW's expansion plans for the team, including over 100 new staff at the team's Swiss facility, expansion of the development and production facilities, and integration of the Swiss and German operations, would not be completed until late 2007.

The F1.06, the team's first 2.4-liter V8-powered car, is very different from last year's. With the overall dimensions of the car set by the rules, and virtually unchanged from 2005, the smaller engine and smaller fuel tank created a lot more freedom for the designers to optimize the placement of major elements. At the same time, the lower power places a premium on aero efficiency. The most visible changes are in the front of the car, which is much lower than last year, and in the sidepods, where smaller radiators for the V8 allow for more aerodynamic optimization.

[Source: BMW Motorsports]

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