BMW F1 exit anouncement expected

Posted on Author Keith Collantine

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

170 comments on “BMW F1 exit anouncement expected”

  1. Although dissapointing, it is enivitable, hopefully BMW wont just close the doors and I’m sure they will have an exit plan in place which will hand most of the set-up to a privateer. Hopefully Sauber can rise from the fire and do a Brawn!! I have very real concerns about Renault and Toyota now, I think Flavio thinks the Renault team he runs only has one car anyway, However just heard JA on TALKSPORT radio, and he has said that all other teams will be tied in until end 2012, when the new concorde is signed this weekend!
    Perhaps it would be for the best if the sport if we had enterprising privateers as opposed to manufacturers who have too many side issues to devote properly to F1

    1. well they want to free up some more money to produce uselessly “efficient” cars like the X5 and X6 M… now if that money was spent on the F1 team, they’d probably be signing the Concorde agreement.

  2. Mercedes suddenly win from being terrible for most of the season thus far…and soon after BMW pull the plug. Perhaps being shamed by Mercedes improvement was bad advertisement BMW could not afford. I do wonder if they did not employ such uncharismatic drivers and have such a boring livery on their car whether they would have attracted more commercial attention. One cannot ignore the beauty and sleekness of the Mclaren Mercedes opposed to the ugliness of the BMW Sauber. Or the huge publicity Hamilton brought the Mclaren Mercedes brand opposed to the non-event of Kubica and Heidfeld. BMW’s most recent claim to fame in formula 1 was Kubica’s crash in Canada and not winning quick enough. I think fundamental mistakes were made in their campaign and this has meant the BMW brand has not matched up to their number one competitor Mercedes. I am sorry to see them go, more for F1 than for them as a manufacturer, and also despite Kubica’s and Heidfeld’s questionable commercial appeal, they are bloody good drivers.

  3. I agree that both Kubica and Heidfeld are very good drivers. It’s easy to mock somebody for driving a bad car. I think Heidfeld is a gem for any new team because of his ridiculous consistency and the way he car nurse a car – brilliant for a team which is still getting to grips with their own car. As for Kubica, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ferrari buy out his contract and hire him for the remainder of this season (but I’m not saying 2010). It wouldn’t be too strange for either driver to jump the sinking BMW ship asap and try to redeem themselves elsewhere.

  4. Well rumors about Kubica replacing Massa are unfounded…it wont happen. but I see that Quick Nick will take a Quick Hike or be stuck in lower tier teams, maybe even the new ones.

    But as their official statement read, it wont be until a few days before we know what will exactly happen. redundancies,and so forth… however does anyone know how long the driver’s contracts less. because they might get paid for next year’s services in case they are still contracted….

  5. I don’t understand what the big deal is here. A manufacturer going into Formula 1 is nothing more than a marketing campaign. A several hundred million dollar marketing campaign. Sometimes in the billions of dollars overall. And if you have nothing to show for it, of course you have to cut your losses. Everyone says, “Oh, well, maybe next year!” but corporations don’t continue to bet hundreds of millions of dollars when they’re currently failing. This withdrawal, as with Honda, was totally understandable.

  6. I’m not so sure about Kubica being as popular in the pit lane as many people think, although when given a car with potential he drove it well, this year when faced with a challenge he has almost disappeared. All we have heard from his pit radio is moaning and complaining, nothing constructive. It seems some of BMW’s failures may well be Kubica’s fault as he seems unable to develop the car. For me Nick is the better driver of the two and seems much more akin with the car and the requirements in getting the most from it and in getting it home.

    1. Provocation? Blindness? Prejudice?
      Pls, stay calm in judgements.

      Compare HAM or ALO. You’d say they did their job. Yes, but they GET good cars finally. KUB never did. Besides, these two guys said already enough what they think about Kubica’s abilities.

    2. BBB – Replace Kubica with Button and BMW with Honda in your argument. Barichello was better performer, working around the problems of 2007-08 Honda Cars and the day team was able to produce race winning car, guess who started having “Gear Shift, Launch Control, Strategy Switch” Issues :-? Yup Rubens Barichello.

      Long story short, lets not needlessly trash drivers, Remember Kubica Jumped in the Sauber-BMW car as replacement for Villenueve and was at speed and immediately fighting for Podiums.
      About Complaining and Whining – Yup all drivers do that Remember Hamilton Outburst to Press after Monaco’07? I don’t remember him being trashed for not being a Team-Man :-?

  7. This really isn’t that much of a surprise to me. BMW have clearly been using F1 as a marketing tool – this much is clear from their very precise annual targets. Regardless of that, I don’t believe that this move is a knee-jerk reaction following their failure to perform this season. With the state of the automotive industry worldwide it is hard to imagine that any of the manufacturers (with the possible exception of Ferrari) would not have been considering an exit for a long time.

    With BMW having sunk so much into their F1 project – and most likely still carrying debts relating to that investment – it is more than likely that they are looking for someone to take over the team. It is not unforeseeable that the team will be “rescued” a la Brawn.

    I think Kubica will become hot property in the transfer market, although I’m not entirely sure where he will end up. It has often been overlooked that he was on course for a solid podium (and, in his opinion, victory) in Melbourne before tangling with Vettel. Heidfeld could provide good experience for one of the new teams, but I think it is unlikely that he would move to any of the teams currently on the grid.

    1. That’s the only reason manufacturers and sponsors come into any sport. It’s part of a marketing budget pure and simple. always has been. Always will be. F1 is supposed to be the biggest tool to display your prowess. If sales are bad and you’re still spending US$130 million a year it doesn’t take the bean counters long to calculate what needs to be cut. I always liked Peter Sauber and the quiet unassuming way he went about running his teams in sportscars and F1. Hopefully he’ll get it back and run it properly.

  8. Can’t say I’m surprised. OK, they are not doing good this year but I think there is more to it. What about those long-term F1 agreements? Are the teams in control, or will it be the same all over again as soon as they are onboard? If they run the risk of having standard engines, etc. down the line, then I fully understand that they don’t see F1 as an important platform anymore for their brand.

    Looking at how much they pour into F1, I think they be better off with WTCC and Superbike (they even discarded MotoGP). I see a future where the manufacturers are looking to race in series that are closer related to the consumer market. For that reason alone I would definitely be surprised if Renault is still in F1 next year. I guess they (and maybe BMW as well) are itching to have a go at Le Mans.

  9. As BMW is actually saying they’ll leave Formula 1 because the series is no longer technically relevant, its just a matter of time for the others to follow.

    1. then why did they have to re-enter in the first place? was it technically relevant back in 2000? utter crap. by doing what they’ve done, they’ve really played into max’s hands :( . the time of announcement was not appropriate imo. they should have waited until the end of the season. Max will be over the moon tonite, he stands vindicated. This is a huge setback for FOTA.

  10. The FIA reaction had the following in it

    “Had these regulations not been so strongly opposed by a number of team principals, the withdrawal of BMW and further such announcements in the future might have been avoided.”

    Does the FIA know something? if you read between the lines, it seems that there are more teams ready to announce their departure. I say Toyota ‘for sure’…

  11. i guess they feel humiliated getting beaten by mercedes over the last decade. first off all they came into F1 to negate mercedes’ domination. mercedes mclaren were dominating f1 in the late 90’s when BMW made their re-entry. pity they could beat mercedes only thrice in the last 10 years. they made a big mistake when they set about as an independent manufacturer. it would have been better off for them to have skick around with williams, that i’m sure would have yielded better results.

  12. they were the one to make all the noise about kers, now are not even using it!!! even worse, they are announcing their withdrawal in the middle of the season. what does mario mean when he says

    But it’s a resolute step in view of our company’s strategic realignment. Premium will increasingly be defined in terms of sustainability and environmental compatibility. This is an area in which we want to remain in the lead. Our Formula One campaign is thus less a key promoter for us.”


    utter crap imo. they’ve openly admitted defeat. this will have serious consequences for them in germany & other world markets. look at mercedes & what they’ve done. they’ve won 7 times this year. BMW imo should atleast continue to supply engines to regain lost glory. at least they could have done what honda did. wait until the end. bad losers.

  13. What a stupid decision. They have proven Max Mosley was right (I hate to admit it): you can’t rely on manufacturers. You can’t build the future of the sport with such people! This also undermined credibility of FOTA, the one organisation we – fans – supported so strongly. Now Bernie should make one condition while signing Concorde Agreement: you all will commit to the sport for 10 (ten)years, or go (censored) yourselves.
    I am really angry.
    But to look at brighter side of life: there is hope that Kubicas talent wont be wasted :)

    1. If you can get a copy read Ian Bamsey’s “The Anatomy and Development of the Sports Prototype Racing Car”. The rise and fall of world sports cars has been this way since the early 70s with the then CSI (now FIA) being no real help in keeping the series thriving. Manufacturers have acted the same way for decades. That’s why it was interesting to see the manufacturers encouraged in by Max and Bernie while they scourned the pleas of Paul Stoddart and Eddie Jordan when they were campaigning for the privateer entrant. Now Max acts like he is the saviour of the sport when he did nothing to stop us getting to where we are. Don’t be surprised that with the world economy in bad shape the bean counters are cutting back on race programs across the board, on four and two wheels. Let’s not forget that Max and Bernie are presiding over a chaotic situation as far as FOM fees are concerned. Genuine private promoters cannot afford to put on a race. Governments will only pay up for so long and billionaires will find something else to spend their money on. Why, after slating Silverstone for so many years is Bernie now sounding so concilliatory? Because Donington don’t have the money and he doesn’t want to be left with egg on his face. BMW’s problem is that they really believed they could timetable their success like they were making a clock. F1 doesn’t work that way and I think poor sales figures will be at the heart of it alongside the FIA’s governance.

    2. Although on the surface this appears to vindicate Mosley’s stance, we really have to step back and put things in perspective.

      In the last 10 years we have had 2 manufatcurers (incl BMW) leave the sport, meanwhile I think over a dozen independent teams have dropped out. So why is it suddenly that we cant rely on the manufacturers?

      F1 is a sport to us, but for the competitors its business; an investment. In order to stop the bleeding the FIA and FOM need to work to ensure that F1 is more commercially viable (give the teams more revenue, drop race fees to bing grands prix back to key markets like USA/France/Canada for marketing exposure) and more technically relevant (bring in less restrictive tech regs, discard artificial competitive elements like the two-tyre rule and KERS).

      The point is, a budget cap was never the right solution, regardless of BMW’s departure. The FIA and FOM need to work hard to make sure that it makes sense for teams to enter F1, otherwise independent and manufacturer teams alike will come and go, no matter what the current economic climate is like.

      1. I think the lack of a race in North America has more to do with it than anyone will admit.
        There are other reasons they could have chosen to leave and I believe their reasons are doublespeak at best.
        The announcement that they are leaving now at least puts the drivers on the market early enough that maybe they can find drives for next year.
        I like fota’s suggestion of the teams running 3 cars /race next year, but I hope they find someone to buy the team and I hope that whoever it is gets a chance to get a good competitive engine.

    1. and at least it will be easy to tell which cars are Williams next year


      i don’t think their liveries are similar. they are easily distinguishable. moreover BMW looks like a shark.

    1. in essence they are starting an anti-formula 1 propaganda. i wonder what would they have done if FOTA had managed a split, would they have walked away ? i doubt it. they are just accepting defeat. rest of the explanations they give is utter crap!!!

      1. mp4-19b: I think they are allowed to withdraw from F1 any time they feel like it and use whatever excuse they like. You just have to get over it. Don’t read the “utter crap” if you don’t like it.

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