BMW F1 exit anouncement expected

BMW's future in F1 is suddenly in doubt

BMW's future in F1 is suddenly in doubt

BMW is expected to announce later today that it is quitting Formula 1, according to Autosport.

The site claims the German manufacturer will confirm the news at a press conference this afternoon attended by, among others, BMW motorsport director Mario Theissen.

Update: It’s official – more in the comments.

If true, the revelation would mimic the suddenness of Honda’s departure in December last year.

It would also bring to an end a decade of continuous involvement in F1 by BMW since returning to the support as an engine supplier to Williams in 2000.

It left Williams and took over Sauber in 2006 to form its own team. The company has poured significant investment into the sport, especially on its computational fluid dynamics supercomputer Albert II.

Struggling in 2009

Until this year, BMW’s F1 participation was a model of consistent progress towards success. It was second in the 2007 constructors’ championship (thanks in part to McLaren’s disqualification) and scored a breakthrough one-two in the Canadian Grand Prix last year.

The team has struggled enormously this year. Having been the only team supporting Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems as the season began, it quickly dropped the technology as the F1.09 struggled. Development work on the car has been slow – it was one of the last to adopt the double diffuser.

There have also been problems on the comercial side of its activities – the team lost its Credit Suisse sponsorship this year owing to the company’s credit crunch losses. It has not been able to find a replacement of similar value.

The consequences

BMW’s involvement in motor racing extends far beyond Formula 1. It runs the Formula BMW junior single seater champioship which unearthed such talent as Sebastian Vettel, and spawned an F1-supporting European class last year.

Its World Touring Car Championship team won four consecutives drivers titles with Andy Priaulx from 2004 to 2007 (the first as the European series). But the team has criticised the FIA’s governance of the championship which it feels has allowed the diesel-powered Seat cars unfair advantages.

It remains to be seen if the pull-out will be confirmed and how much of its motor racing portfolio will be affected.

It would also have an effect on the drivers’ market, with Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld suddenly up for grabs.

BMW have been supportive of the Formula 1 Teams’ Association but their withdrawal would surely be seen by Max Mosley as a vindication of his claims that further manufacturer pull-outs are possible.

More worryingly, BMW were not among the teams thought most likely to withdraw, which has usually included Renault and Toyota. It may prove too late for the teams that submitted entries for 2010 but were not accepted – such as Prodrive, Lola and N. Technology – to take their place.

Read more: BMW F1 team information

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170 comments on BMW F1 exit anouncement expected

  1. Maurice said on 29th July 2009, 2:50

    Given the state of things BMW may well, in light of their big spending on F1 verses poor performance in 2009 and perhaps more importantly poor sales (just guessing on that one), may have decided that F1 doesn’t have the cache it used to in the eyes of potential buyers. Certainly the FIA/FOTA spat has soured many people’s view of F1. I’ve watched F1 since 1982 and this year’s arguements were getting me down to the point where even I was willing to chuck in the towel. They may have taken into consideration no American exposure for the sport and more importantly for a German car maker, the very real possibility of no German GP from 2010 onwards because neither of the current promoters can afford the FOM fees. This is especially gauling as Max spouted off about financial armegeddon by the teams while Bernie jacked up the costs of running a race to the point where only governments and billionaires need apply. I was lucky enough to bump into Alan McNish at Luton airport a few weeks before Le Mans this year. Really nice guy. We had a good chat and the most revealing thing he said when I asked whether Audi would race the R15 in the LMS or Petit Le Mans after the big race was that the board would love to, but they were waiting to see what the sales figures were like. If they improved they’d be good to go. As there has been no annoucement to date I assume the Audi board saw no improvement in their situation. Additionally, he said to me Mercedes had the equivalent of 2 years worth of UK sales sitting in warehouses unsold! If sales have gone similarly for BMW they are certainly going to be under pressure to cut back on spending that gives little in the way of return on its investment. I think the lack of scope for applicable R&D as eluded to by Honda a month or so ago, is another factor that could make F1 a poor shadow of its stated aim of being the pinnacle of motorsport. If we end up with too many privateers we’ll be watching an international version of IRL. It would be a shame to see them go but I am sure that Sir Frank will have a knowing smile on his face should it come to pass that Mario Theissen, with the arrogance to think he could run an F1 team better than a man with forty years experience, must sit before the world and annouce the end of BMW as a constructor after a paltry 4 years.

    • Crazy Horse said on 29th July 2009, 17:45

      Certainly is refreshing to see a truly intelligent overview of the situation, from a perspective of insider understanding of F1.

  2. Dane said on 29th July 2009, 3:10

    Damn max mosley & his cost cutting ideas

    • Spud said on 29th July 2009, 12:14

      This is what he was trying to prevent.

      • dsob said on 29th July 2009, 16:05

        No, I believe this sort of thing was exactly what Mosley was after. He’s never had any love for the manufacturers.

        Didja think Honda pulled out at the end of last year just because the fancy struck them? They knew KERS was coming in 2009 and not having any R&D to speak of for a RACING application, they knew thay’d get their butts beat. (They had no idea at the time that most of the teams would dump KERS so quickly.) And believe me, Honda may be good at building production hybrid cars, but that has nothing to do with the KERS that’s been used in F1 this year.

        Which brings me to the next point: Mosley rammed KERS through as a “green initiative”, mainly for the benefit of the motoring public. Yes, yes, I see that–the benefits of a system I can punch to get me away from the traffic signal more quickly, or let me pass another car on the freeway like a rocket–well, geez, yes, that F1 KERS was going to be a blessing to us consumers. (I DO hope my sarcasm here was noted. )

        Next point, BMW spent more than anyone else developing the KERS, and let the R&D on the rest of the car fall by the wayside, I’d say, to a great extent. Explains why they aren’t higher in the grid or the standings. They actually did much better last year.

        So. Mosley jams through a system that he knows will cost ALL the teams millions to develope, while at the same time demanding a budget cap to reduce spending in F1.

        Mosley knew damn-well what this would do. He was never trying to prevent any teams from having to leave. Contrarily, he was banking that this would in fact drive out some of the manufacturers, based on slumping car sales figures against what an F1 team costs yearly.

        And in truth, much as I have never liked Max Mosley (and I’ve been around F1 since 1956, long before he showed up), I have to hand it to him. He is a diabolically clever *******.

  3. Bartholomew said on 29th July 2009, 3:10

    What a pity : BMW is a classy team, and also a serious company.I am saddened.
    They will be missed. Maybe they are also tired of all the politics and mayhem of the F1 business.
    I understand the final reason for leaving is that they simply cannot stand to look at the face of Lou´s submarine Todt “Newman”. That was just too much.

    Best wishes for BMW ! maybe they can race in North America, the biggest market for them.

    • Steve K said on 29th July 2009, 3:28

      I do know the IRL is looking for another engine supplier for 2011. Have at it BMW.

      • ColoradoF1 said on 29th July 2009, 6:29

        I think Robin Miller of SpeedTV here in the States did remark last yr that BMW was looking into the IRL. Of course, 365 days is an eternity in motorsports.

        • ColoradoF1 said on 29th July 2009, 6:37

          In fact….
          http://www.autospies.com/news/Future-Indy-Car-Racing-May-Feature-VW-Audi-Engines-40076/

          Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Fiat, Mazda and Volkswagen sent representatives to an IRL meeting to discuss the future specifications for Indy car powerplants. Of those attending, it seems the VW Group has the most to offer and the most to gain.

          Sadly, with the IRL engine spec change delayed until 2012, it appears BMW may have gotten cold feet:
          http://www.motorauthority.com/new-indycar-engine-plans-stirring-global-interest.html
          But despite the delay, carmakers as varied as Fiat, Audi, Porsche and Volkswagen are beginning to express interest in building to the new formula, which places emphasis on efficiency as well as power.
          I can only assume that the reporters wouldn’t neglect a huge manu.

          • Steve K said on 29th July 2009, 8:38

            Robin Miller is one crazy old man. I bet he thinks engines should be moved back to the front, ban wings, and only allow Americans in the IRL. . .As an American myself, I could care less if Scott Dixon isnt from here. He is fast and fun to watch.

            The problem in Indycar is all the cars are basically the same which has made for some incredibly boring racing this year. They have made some small changes for the race this weekend, most notably the push to pass button, similar to the effects of KERS, but they need a second engine supplier at least.

            BMW would be great, but the economy sucks and we might just be stuck with what we have until automakers can pump more money into motorsports. Obviously it is hitting all forms racing.

            The series just needs to create more gimmicks because I am bored to tears seeing nothing but Penske and Ganassi winning every race with very little passing.

            And whats up with the F1 site with two paragraphs on how BMW thinks things can improve like they have for McLaren and it lacks a link to an actual article. Odd.

          • Steve K said on 29th July 2009, 8:41

            Correction, there is link but the timing seems odd.

            http://www.formula1.com/news/headlines/2009/7/9695.html

            We shall see.

  4. Renault and Toyota will be gone by the end of the year

  5. Hakka said on 29th July 2009, 4:39

    Didn’t the FOTA members guarantee participation until 2012? How does this impact that whole saga?

    • Gman said on 29th July 2009, 5:06

      I believe they did, but as far as I know they did not sign anything official. And with the Concorde set to be finished sometime this week or so, maybe BMW is jumping ship at the very last moment.

    • VXR said on 29th July 2009, 12:00

      FOTA members may have guaranteed,but just one boardroom meeting can change all of that.

  6. I amtruly saddened by this potential exit of BMW. I confess that the only car I ever owned was a used Bmw325E. Compared to later versions it was a dog. But Iworked , at the time at the top of a winding road, that I drove aty well above the nirmal speed and LOVED every minute of it. Going to work was a joy , as well as going home, needlw=ess to a=say.
    I v’e hoped BMWwould find sucess in F1, and was happy in regard to how well they did last year. The new rules this year, and the ddf quagmire short circuted them this year, but I continue to hope that the turn it around before the end of the season.greatly respect Mr. Theissen nad both thire drivers, and am hugely saddened by this possible departure from F1,

    How ever, I can understand BMW’s reasoning. The US market is in the tank. Berni’s Greed has closed off any exposure for them here, and the people that tended to buy their cars, hvae been hit financially, to the point that they are relying on BMW’s longevity, rather than thier annual upgrades and design tweeks. Hence, the parent company is quite right in deciding that this might not be the ideal forum of motor sport for them to persue at this time. Hopefully they will continue with the other series that they are involved in, and hopefully they will return to F1 with engines and KERS when the finances and rules are more realistic, relative to the economic climate .
    I will miss them a great deal, and am sad to see them leave, but I hope that they will return when things are better suited to their desires and needs to make it worth their while to compete. They brought a lot to F1 and I eagerly await their ruturn. hopefully after 2112. when CVC isn’t so greedy an Bernie Has his feet up at home, enjoying his grandchildren.
    BMW please don’t make this a perminent deal.

  7. Brian said on 29th July 2009, 5:04

    After last year they had high expectations of this year. As a result they probably threw a lot of money into this season, more then they planned for. Not it backfired. They were probably realling hoping that KERS would work out, but it didn’t. It was a gamble and they lost.
    I can’t help but remember the first race of the season when Kubica and Vettel were fighting for 3rd. I thought BMW was going to be near the top often.
    I hope that Audi buys them and then slaps a Lambo engine it the cars! That would be sweet.
    I also hope Aston Martin or SAAB could get in there, maybe even bring Jaguar back.

  8. Gman said on 29th July 2009, 5:14

    I suppose we’ll need to see what the announcement is, but no doubt it’s probably what we already know.

    The timing is something of a suprise- while we’re on the summer break, it’s still in the middle of the season. If the team really is pulling out, you need to wonder how motivated everyone will be for the rest of the current camapign, esp. if there is no buyer ready to take over.

    Looking at BMW, it’s clear that many of us expected Toyota or Renault to be the other manufacturers to leave, if any did. But BMW have been central to FOTA, and while it may seem like a small detail, they (along with Honda) were the most vocal about having a strong F1 presence in North America. As Bernie continues with his quest to eliminate Canada and the US from ever being on the F1 calendar under his watch, perhaps that was a factor in the deal.

    Lastly, I can’t help but think back to this race weekend, where I expected BMW to improve a little bit. Not only were they stuck in the back, but McLaren and Ferrari had obviously made big progress, while the blue and white cars were still way out of the points.

    • mp4-19b said on 29th July 2009, 11:06

      yes, i agree with you when you say they picked a weird moment to announce their withdrawal. they have almost a month to improve their car, we all saw what mclaren did. there is no reason why BMW couldn’t do the same. this news came as a bit of a weird shock to me,cuz i had just read an article, i which mario said they’ll take heart from mclaren’s performance

      http://www.formula1.com/news/headlines/2009/7/9695.html

      there wasn’t even a mention of withdrawal.
      by doing what they’ve done BMW have admitted failure. Mercedes is king of germany :) but i feel sorry for BMW & mario. Hope he doesn’t do what brawn did, name a team after himself, cuz i hold him in high regards.

      whether people here agree with me or not, what mercedes did & are continuing to do is the best thing for a manufacturer to do. see what happened to honda & now to BMW. these big manufacturers are better off supplying engines. for that to happen the current ‘engine freeze’ rule must be lifted.

  9. So many things happening simultaneously.

    Eletions, Accidents, Replacements, Suspension, and now an exit.

    Probably Mario will buy the outfit from BMW like Ross Brawn did. But, it is just wishful thinking, I feel.

    • mp4-19b said on 29th July 2009, 10:46

      i bet you are happy!! aren’t you sumedh? i know you’ll be more happier if mclaren, renault & others pull out. so that you can enjoy your “favorite” team fighting it out with force india & toro rosso. oh! i feel so proud of you!!

  10. Brendan said on 29th July 2009, 5:53

    I assume that while BMW itself may be pulling out of F1, they have a fairly solid plan in place to sell the team off to Sauber or someone else. Otherwise, it would be awfully unkind to the team employees to not tell them before briefing the media.

    Remember, the first sign of Honda’s departure was the piles of CVs that other teams started getting from Brackley. None of the usual paddock gossips have mentioned anything of the sort.

  11. Dougie said on 29th July 2009, 7:00

    I shouldn’t be surprised and yet I am. For me this just vindicates the view that manufacturers cannot be relied upon for any future of F1. They have their place, but F1 must exist through independent teams (with or without manufacturer support). Anyway, that’s just my view.

    Now, for the future of the factory and its employees (though some of them at least are about to face unemployment but hopefully not all) I’m hoping that Prodrive step in, however I doubt they want to run their operation outside the UK.

    • gabal said on 29th July 2009, 10:29

      How about that Austrian team with Wurz as a manager who applied for a spot in 2010. championship? To them having swiss-based factory won’t be such a huge off-set.

  12. Ronman said on 29th July 2009, 7:42

    Keith, you put one hell of a tongue twister there …

    its “computionatonal” fluid dynamics supercomputer Albert II.

    I’m sure you mean Computational… quite funny to try to pronounce it though…

  13. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 29th July 2009, 8:06

    Thanks Ronman – have fixed it.

  14. savage said on 29th July 2009, 8:16

    If the testing ban had not been in place they would probably have sorted the car better , most of the results we are seeing have been a result of the limited testing .
    whoever steps in to the ferrari will have no testing mileage of note which is making the sport look amatuerish.

  15. DGR-F1 said on 29th July 2009, 8:37

    I can see them withdrawing from F1 for roughly the same reasons as Renault and Toyota, and from WTCC too, but I think the Formula BMW shouldn’t stop, and really just because they don’t run teams in F1 or WTCC doesn’t mean they cannot supply engines to one and cars to the other for independent teams.
    I am always under the impression that when the money-men in these organisations decide they cannot afford to continue, they cannot see that the consequences of a full withdrawal could be fatal to their international image…..

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