Today BMW has officially announced that they will exit Formula 1 racing at the end of 2009 season. Apparently BMW is going to use freed up resources of the F1 team for development of “new drive technologies and projects in the field of sustainability”. That means their drivers will have to find new teams for the next season. BMW says that they will continue to be actively involved in other motor sports series.
Munich.The BMW Group will not continue its Formula One campaign after the end of the 2009 season. Resources freed up as a result are to be dedicated to the development of new drive technologies and projects in the field of sustainability. BMW will continue to be actively involved in other motor sports series. The landmark decision to restructure BMW Motorsport’s activities was made at the Board of Management’s meeting yesterday.
“Of course, this was a difficult decision for us. But it’s a resolute step in view of our company’s strategic realignment,” explained Dr. Norbert Reithofer, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG. “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. In line with our Strategy Number ONE, we are continually reviewing all projects and initiatives to check them for future viability and sustainability. Our Formula One campaign is thus less a key promoter for us. Mario Theissen has been in charge of our motor sports program since 1999. We have scored a large number of successes in this period, including some in Formula One racing. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Mario Theissen and his team for this,” said Reithofer.
Dr. Klaus Draeger, the member of the Board of Management responsible for development, said: “It only took us three years to establish ourselves as a top team with the BMW Sauber F1 Team. Unfortunately, we were unable to meet expectations in the current season. Nevertheless, our ten years of Formula One experience have had a major impact on our development engineers. We have racing to thank for numerous technological innovations as well as the competitive spirit that drives us to develop mass-produced cars.” Possible redundancies in Munich and Hinwil cannot be quantified at present. Says Draeger: “Since we only made this decision yesterday, we cannot provide any more precise information. We will develop and assess various scenarios and do our best to find a solution for the employees in Hinwil and the staff members involved in the Formula One project in Munich. We are aware of the responsibility we shoulder and will inform the staff as soon as we can make a clear statement.”
Says BMW Motorsport director Dr. Mario Theissen: “Of course, we, the employees in Hinwil and Munich, would all have liked to continue this ambitious campaign and show that this season was just a hiccup following three successful years. But I can understand why this decision was made from a corporate perspective. We will now focus sharply on the remaining races and demonstrate our fighting spirit and put in a good result as we bid farewell to Formula One racing.”
BMW will continue its programs in a number of motor sports series: BMW will appear on the starting grid in the touring car series and young driver promotion program in Formula BMW. This will be supplemented by BMW’s participation in ALMS, the American Le Mans Series, endurance races and close-to-production customer sports. Furthermore, BMW Motorrad Motorsport will continue its campaigns, with the super bike world championship leading the way.
BMW looks back on a long track record of success in the field of motor sports:
BMW achieved eight Formula One victories from 1982 to 1985 with Brabham. In 1983, BMW won the driver’s championship with Nelson Piquet (Brabham BMW). The last win with the legendary turbo engine followed with Benetton in 1986. Ten victories were scored during the partnership with Williams (2000-2005). BMW had a total of 19 grand prix wins and 33 pole positions before the BMW Sauber F1 Team era.
In its debut season in 2006, the newly established BMW Sauber F1 Team wound up fifth in the constructor’s championship. In 2007, the German-Swiss team came in second after McLaren-Mercedes’ exclusion from the points standings. The 2008 season saw the team in the hunt for the world championship until the end of the season, winding up third. Polish-born Robert Kubica achieved the first and hitherto only GP victory in Canada on June 8, 2008. So far, the BMW Sauber F1 Team has taken one pole position (Kubica in Bahrain in 2008) and 16 podium finishes. The BMW Sauber F1 Team occupies the eighth spot in the manufacturer’s standings in the season presently underway.
Statement by Dr. Klaus Draeger, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG
BMW and motor sports: These two things have a long-standing tradition and simply belong together. Be it in motorcycle, touring car, sports car, rally or Formula One and Formula Two racing, BMW has amassed successes around the globe.
Promoting talent has always been a priority for us. In 1991, Formula sports saw the beginning of a joint talent promotion campaign by BMW and ADAC. Formula One drivers like Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg, Timo Glock, Adrian Sutil, Ralf Schumacher and Christian Klien learned the basics of Formula racing from this program.
BMW is clearly the most successful brand in the 24-hour race around the Nürburgring’s north circuit.
In 1980, BMW announced the company’s entry into Formula One racing as an engine supplier. The partnership lasted until 1986.
Then BMW joined WilliamsF1 on the starting grid in the 2000 season. Gerhard Berger was the BMW Motorsport director at the time. Mario Theissen was nominated to assist him soon thereafter. We have scored 10 wins with the BMW WilliamsF1 Team.
In the middle of 2005, BMW acquired the Swiss team Sauber and took to the starting grid under its own steam.
Spearheaded by BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen, in 2008, the new BMW Sauber F1 Team established itself as one of the top three teams.
These are just a few chapters of BMW’s motor sports history. This goes to show that our decision to end our Formula One campaign was anything but easy.
Formula One racing had always been the perfect platform for BMW to showcase important brand values. We did this for years and transferred Formula One technology to series production more resolutely than any other manufacturer. The most recent findings obtained from Formula One racing to be applied to series production will be our KERS expertise.
However, our planned cost reduction will cause component standardization and homologation to increase, and thus will set certain limits on our engineers’ creativity. This doesn’t necessary correspond to our belief of what’s ideal. In times of economic and societal change, we must remain capable of taking action and being flexible. We have now paid tribute to this fact.
Our ten years of Formula One experience have had a deep impact on our development engineers. We have racing to thank for numerous technological innovations which can be found in our mass-produced vehicles today.
The main reason for this decision was not our current performance in Formula One racing or the general economic situation. It was solely the company’s strategic realignment.
Of course, our decision to discontinue our Formula One campaign will have an effect on our employees. Since we only made this decision yesterday, I trust that you will understand that I cannot give you any more precise information on this matter yet.
We will develop and assess various scenarios and do our best to find solutions for our employees in Hinwil and those involved in the Formula One project in Munich and Landshut. Most importantly, we are aware of the responsibility we shoulder and will inform staff as soon as we can make a clear statement.
We will continue our touring car and Formula BMW racing campaigns in 2010. This will be supplemented by our participation in ALMS and endurance races as well as our increasing activity in close-to-production customer sports.
As before, these activities will be supervised by Mario Theissen.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my personal thanks to our motor sports director Mario Theissen for his commitment and successes as well.
Furthermore, we will naturally continue our international motorcycle racing program, focusing on the super bike world championship series.
I would like to underscore what Mr. Reithofer just said:
Sustainability is becoming increasingly important. As a responsible premium manufacturer, we want to address this issue even more extensively than before.
What this means for our products is that:
They will be developed and built in line with the principle of sustainability across all development stages. Technological innovations will be accelerated even more, in order to constantly make our vehicles more efficient.
You will see a product of sustainable development at the IAA in Frankfurt in a few weeks in the form of a concept car. The BMW EfficientDynamics Vision will demonstrate how efficient a sports car can be. It will also prove that sustainability does not apply to the drive train alone, but to design and materials as well.
Anyone who takes a closer look at this concept car will understand the direction in which we are developing our technology. And it will become evident that we will have to dedicate more human and financial resources to this type of development work.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
BMW has always been active in the field of motor sports, and this will not change. We will maintain our outstanding tradition in touring car and Formula BMW racing over the long term. We will promote framework conditions that establish motor sports as the arrowhead of innovations that trickle down to future mass-produced cars. New drive concepts are just one example. BMW will continue to showcase sheer driving pleasure on the racetrack.