• Home
  • formula-1
  • Obituary for the death of engine pope Paul Rosche

Obituary for the death of engine pope Paul Rosche

Daniel Reinhard
Paul Rosche is dead
Subscriptions & booklets

V four days ago we talked about Paul Rosche. Nelson Piquet and me. The old buddy from their Brabham days together wanted to call Rosche again, but it was no longer possible. Whenever the Brazilian flew to Europe, he visited the former head of motorsport and engine builder at BMW. A year ago, three-time world champion Rosche flew in his private jet from Munich to Spielberg. There Piquet gave another guest appearance in the Brabham BT52-BMW, ​​the car with which he became world champion for the second time in 1983 in Kyalami.

Later in 2015, Piquet visited the original Bavarian Rosche for the last time in Munich. “I took him to the museum. Paul didn't want to because he was a little weak. But I wanted to take another look at our Formula 1 car and the engine with him. He didn't manage the stairs that well anymore. I just pushed him up a bit. ”Rosche had been fighting his lung cancer for years. He lost the fight on November 15th. At the age of 82.

Falkenhausen asked: Can you calculate camshafts?

Rosche was the motorsport face of BMW. On November 1, 1957, at the request of his mother, the mechanical engineer found a job at Bayerische Motorenwerke. His later sponsor Alexander von Falkenhausen integrated him into the research and development department for engines, which at the time only had six members.

Von Falkenhausen quickly recognized the talent of the young engineer. Because he was initially assigned to the camshaft construction, he was later given his nickname 'Nocken-Paule'. “Falkenhausen asked whether I would trust myself to calculate camshafts. Yes what do you want to answer? So I said yes. ”

At the beginning Rosche worked in series development and was jointly responsible for the 1.5 liter four-cylinder M10 for the BMW 1500 and the Type 118 for the BMW 1800 TI /SA . The last engine became the basis for all racing engines in the 1960s and 1970s. Until Falkenhausen stormed into Rosche's office one day and gave him the order: “I need a 40/80 camshaft.” According to Rosche, he looked at his boss with wide eyes and wondered silently: “What does he mean by that?” He left enlighten yourself. “Open 40 degrees inlet, close 80 degrees outlet. It smelled like a racing engine. ”

It was the start of a great career. As a BMW with touring cars and Formula 2 cars in motorsportgot in, Rosche worked on the first front. Rosche did not mind that the group temporarily withdrew from the sport for three years. The same thing happened to him again in the 1990s. “We continued to work underground. You can call me an underground fighter, ”the engine pope once told me.

And happily told me about his exile. “We stayed in a backyard garage. We didn't pay anything. Officially, we no longer had a budget. ”After work in the AG, Rosche, Gruber, Schmid and Voll meet and work on the Formula 2 car and engine for Dieter Quester free of charge. If there was something to be welded, the four rebels secretly brought the parts to the BMW workshop at night.

Formula 1 project only approved in the second attempt

Rosche's Formula 2 engines won six Times the Formula 2 European Championship and 89 races. For Jean-Pierre Jarier (1973), Patrick Depailler (1974), Jacques Laffite (1975), Bruno Giacomelli (1978), Marc Surer (1979) and Corrado Fabi (1982), the two-liter four-cylinder became a master maker and springboard into the formula 1.

When von Falkenhausen retired in 1975, Rosche took over the management of BMW Motorsport GmbH. Together with Jochen Neerpasch, he tried to convince the BMW board of directors to enter Formula 1. Because the project failed, Neerpasch left the group. The Austrian journalist Dieter Stappert took over his position as race director.

Together with Rosche, the promotion of the Formula 1 project was finally successful on the second attempt. Of course, Rosche and his team of technicians had long since provided facts. The Formula 2 engine was trimmed to 1.5 liters and it was fitted with a turbocharger. At the end of 1980 the engine with the internal type designation BMW M12 /13 ran for the first time on the test bench. In training for the British GP in 1981, BMW started its first test run in the Brabham.

For now only for 14 laps. The appearance of the four-cylinder engine, which was already 557 hp, despite its early development stage, shocked the competition. Nelson Piquet would have been fourth on the grid with a time of 1:12.06 minutes. Before both Ferrari Turbo and just 0.11 seconds behind his own time with the BT49C with Cosworth engine. The Brabham-BMW was the fastest car stopped on the hangar straight at 325 km /h. The Renault Turbo flew through the light barriers at just 314 km /h.

The marriage with Brabham was about to divorce

In 1982, BMW celebrated its Formula 1 premiere with partner Brabham. It was a difficult marriage that began as an alliance of convenience. Team boss Bernie Ecclestone hated the turbo engines, but he needed them. It had already become apparent in 1981 that the good old Cosworth engine would soon be obsolete and that the only way to victory would be to use supercharged engines. The horsepower numbers literally exploded.First of all, the engines themselves. Rosche never tried to hide engine damage. 'It tore him apart,' he said dryly, as if the mechanical destruction work had amused him.

Nelson Piquet is convinced that he could have won the World Championship with BMW in his first season in 1982 if it hadn't been for a breakdown with far-reaching consequences in winter. BMW and Bosch had developed electronically controlled injection and ignition to reduce fuel consumption, improve responsiveness and guarantee the stability of the fire-breathing infernal machine. During test drives in Donington, the penny suddenly fell. Piquet got out of the car and explained to the perplexed engineers. “Don't touch anything anymore. With this engine specification, I win the title with a go. ”

But then the relevant software for injection and ignition was accidentally deleted by an overvoltage. Bosch hadn't made a copy of it. 'It took us a year to get back to where we came from,' said Nelson Piquet. The hectic schedule did not allow BMW to find a short-term solution. Piquet and his new team-mate Riccardo Patrese only entered the points list four times.

Bernie Ecclestone saw the company swim away from defending its title and initially let Brabham go two ways. After the start of the season with two Brabham BT50 BMWs, he decided that the BMW four-cylinder turbo was still not ready for racing. In the second and third races of the season he showed up with two Brabham BT49D-Cosworth. After that, both engine concepts were used for three races, which caused considerable tension between Chessington and Munich.

The board of directors almost overturned the 65 million mark project. Riccardo Patrese had won in Monte Carlo with the Cosworth V8, Nelson Piquet had failed to qualify with the BMW engine in Detroit. Then BMW Ecclestone put the pistol on his chest. A Brabham with a BMW engine had to drive in Montreal. The miracle happened. Seven days after the biggest bankruptcy, Piquet won sensationally with the Bavarian powerhouse in Canada. “With our iron pile”, as Rosche affectionately called his child because of the cast iron block.

Bernie is going crazy and a telex from Munich

In its second season in 1983, the Brabham-BMW package had matured . The combination won three races with Piquet and one race with Patrese. And in the end there was the world title. BMW came into the turbo era as the third car manufacturer after Renault and Ferrari and was the first to cross the finish line. Turbo pioneer Renault followed suit after the defeat in the World Cup duel at the GP South Africa. BMW was accused of using illegal gasoline. In fact, BMW and Wintershall engineers had found a loophole in the regulations.

With an unbelievable 760 hp at the time, BMW became the class leader. But only inTraining when the boost pressure has been turned up to 2.5 bar. The Bavarian four-cylinder was not stable until the second half of the season. Thanks to the high-octane special gasoline from the chemical kitchen. That prevented the dreaded knock damage. Engine Pope Paul Rosche came up with a second trick. From the GP Holland onwards, the wastegate valve was programmed in such a way that when accelerating it released excess boost pressure early on in order to better bring the power to the road. The tires thanked it in the race.

At the season finale at 1,800 meters altitude, however, it almost came to a big bankruptcy. Paul Rosche stood in front of the broken engine pieces more than once during training. “The Bernie has almost gone mad.” Rosche's trained eye recognizes the combustion chambers that are discolored white. Clear instruction: 'We have to enrich the mixture.' But by how much? The other technicians on the BMW staff are at odds. Some say two percent, the other ten percent. Roshe speaks a word of power. “A feeling told me eight percent. I was nervous. We were never able to try it out before the race. ”

The telex that Rosche received from the headquarters the night before the race does not give courage either. CEO Eberhard von Kuenheim was never a friend of Formula 1, but now he's sending out his best wishes, combined with the order: “We're looking forward to the world championship title tomorrow.” Rosche thinks 12 flight hours further south: “It's easy talk. ”Patrese's victory and Piquet's third place were enough for the world title. Although Piquet lost the turbo handwheel in the meantime and desperately looked for it in the cockpit. “We had no idea about his problems, and that was a good thing,” said Rosche after his mission was completed.

Fun was the order of the day. At the first Australian Grand Prix, the BMW team smuggled white sausages in cans in the transport crates from Brabham to Adelaide. “Of course it was blown. The cars were stuck in customs for ages, and the Bernie made a murderous terror ”, Rosche rummaged in his memories on the occasion of his 70th birthday in 2004.

Le Mans victory celebrated at the Nürburgring

At the end of 1986, BMW withdrew from Formula 1 and sold the engines to Megatron. And Roshe dived one more time. This time with the blessing of CEO Wolfgang Reitzle. “He had Formula 1 engines built for us somewhere in the basement. For the day X on whichthe company would be ready again for major motorsport. ”

Incidentally, Rosche's racing engines won the 24 Hours of Le Mans twice. The Bavarian veteran could always laugh at the victory in 1995. “We took our touring cars to a works outing for the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring. At Le Mans, a certain Masanori Sekiya drove for Ron Dennis in a private McLaren F1 with our engine. We're sitting at the ring and our engine wins at Le Mans. Mei, I looked stupid. ”In 1999 BMW repeated the triumph of the long-distance classic on the Sarthe with the 6.1 liter V12 in the LMR type. This time with an open sports car.

'Our only foreigners were Prussians'

At the end of the 90s, Rosche, together with Mario Theissen and Gerhard Berger, built Bavaria's second Formula 1 adventure with Williams on. A lot had changed. 210 people had to be welded together, countless cultures and 12 nationalities. Looking back on the turbo era with its 65 employees, Rosche once said: “Our only foreigners at that time were Prussians.” The ten-cylinder, with which BMW returned reasonably to Formula 1 in 2000, was Rosche's last legacy for the company, which he served for over 40 years had.

Gerhard Berger is allowed to speak the final word about a man who, while telling stories, reminded many of the Bavarian lateral thinker Karl Valentin. “Paul was rightly the engine guru. Not only technically, but also humanly. Everyone looked up to him, everyone appreciated his competence. He always did it his own way, and if it had to be at five in the morning with a wheat beer, just to get two more horsepower out of the engines. I have an awful lot to thank Paul for. I drove a large part of his career with his engines, including the 1,400 hp monster that I won in Mexico in 1986. 14 years later we met again when we were building our second Formula 1 entry at BMW. Paul was an original Bavarian and an incredibly good guy. The success speaks for him. “


Leave a reply

Name *