bmw sauber f1 09 005

bmw sauber f1 09 005

Perpetual front-runners Ferrari and McLaren-Mercedes have already revealed their contenders for the 2009 Formula 1 World Championship, and as the weeks remaining until the kickoff of the new season in Melbourne tick away, more and more teams follow suit.

This week the new debuts include the BMW, Renault and Williams teams. The cars, bearing the simple code names that mark them as true race cars, are dubbed the BMW F1.09, Renault R29, and Williams FW31. Together with Toyota, which revealed its TF109 car last week, these comprise the 'best of the rest', or the teams most likely to contend for whatever remaining points are left after Ferrari and McLaren-Mercedes do their best to take the championship - or at least that's how things are expected to shake out at this point.

That's not to say the effort or technology underpinning these cars is in any way second-rate - BMW, via Robert Kubica, tied Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen on year-end driver's points for the 2008 season, winning one race and finishing on the podium a total of five times. Similarly, Renault's Fernando Alonso - two-time world champion - took what most would consider an under-prepared car and developed it with the team to finish fifth in points and win two races toward the end of the season. German Nico Rosberg, widely recognized as a formidable talent behind the wheel, struggled with the Williams-Toyota car in 2008, but still managed to finish on the podium twice.

All of these teams have hope that the new regulations and inclusion of the KERS system will have the potential to shake things up for 2009, however, and all likewise think their cars are ready to kick off the season with success.

With all the secrecy that surrounds Formula 1 teams and cars, not much is known about any of the vehicles in a technical sense, but the sleeker looks afforded by the aerodynamic regulations and slick tires evoke lines and sensations of years past, despite the intensely modern design. All of the cars are built to the minimum legal weight, feature an FIA-specified maximum rev limit of 18,000rpm and generate roughly 750hp (560kW) from a 90-degree 2.4L V8 engine.