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

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  1. F1Fan said on 29th July 2009, 18:36

    It’s a done deal. They are out after this season.

    Damn, maybe I should sell my M3 now.

  2. Paige Michael-Shetley said on 29th July 2009, 18:38

    BMW’s rationale is pretty stupid. “Oh, we didn’t win a championship by our 4th year, so we quit.” The people at the top of the company apparently don’t know much about F1 and how competitive it is.

  3. Look BMW is trying to sell a brand,the B.E. an Max killed that with there bs side show

  4. Steve_P said on 29th July 2009, 20:32

    I hope this can open up room for Lola or Aston Martin/Prodrive to come in. I would love to see Lola get an entry, but how likely is that to happen? Surely, by BMW announcing their exit at this time of year there is time left to enable another team to enter?

  5. m0tion said on 29th July 2009, 23:59

    The bigger the spend the more they must deliver on running at the front or get out in the face of defeat by their mfg competitors which is a loss to the brand. That is unless you are Ferrari and you don’t have a like competitor with a merchandise franchise.

    Williams are vindicated and the FIA’s position is vindicated and we are not yet down the track because the Concorde agreement hasn’t been signed.

    As this unwinds minds will focus on the fact that F1’s only way to a secure future is for CVC to be forced to sell their investment in the face of an otherwise total collapse and that the new rights holder’s stake is written down and contained to something sustainable in terms of the returns it demands.

  6. The sri lankan said on 30th July 2009, 1:21

    in all faireness, the right thing to do is to make sure the Sauber name doesnt disappear. BMW should come up with an exit plan that allows Sauber to continue operations even with a BMW engine for next year.

  7. Prisoner Monkeys said on 30th July 2009, 2:54

    You know, I’m not too surprised to see BMW go. It’s a shame, because the name Sauber is a lot like that of Williams, if considerably less famous. It should be saved if it can, though I suspect someone like Epsilon Euskadi will take their spot.

    Hopefully, Robert Kubica will be saved. I don’t care much for Nick Heidfeld – he’s always been all over the place, where in a Prost, Jordan or BMW – but I think Kubica is race-winning material if he has a good car under him. If not (like this year), he tends to lose confidence.

    As unsurprised as I am, I’m also a little disappointed. I think Formula One needs manufacturers just as much as it needs the privateers; a balance between the two is pretty good. But with the departures of BMW and Honda, we’re down to four. I was also hoping Toro Rosso would disappear at the end of the year – they’re little more than a glorified GP2 team, who aren’t allowed to perform and whose drivers are snatched away as soon as they come good … at least when they were Minardi they were allowed to compete rather than play second fiddle – but if too many teams withdraw, FOTA isn’t going to be too solid.

  8. toncho said on 30th July 2009, 7:25

    This is awful, and open the door to others teams like Toyota or Renault willing to leave… Would the FIA admit an extra team now? Or we are on for three cars teams??…

    My bet: KUB to Renault (to take ALO’s place) and HEI to BRAWN

  9. discussions, have you seen

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