BMW's Board of Management met this week and voted to to wind down its Formula One team at the end the of the 2009 series after just four seasons. According to a statement from BMW, the resources that had been expended on the company's F1 program will instead be re-directed to the "development of new drive technologies and projects in the field of sustainability." That means we will likely be seeing a significant ramp-up of work on electrification and efforts like Project I which first spawned the Mini E.
After returning to F1 as an engine supplier first to BMW in 2000 and later to Sauber, BMW took over the Sauber team prior to the 2006 season. Since then, BMW Sauber has only managed a single win and has struggled in 2009 under the series' revamped technical rules. BMW has not yet given any indication that it is open to selling the team and its assets the way Honda did last year to Ross Brawn.
The automaker's other motorsports programs will continue in 2010 and beyond with efforts in touring cars, the American Le Mans Series and Formula BMW. A press release and statement from CEO Dr. Norbert Reithofer are after the jump.
[Source: BMW | Image: Mark Thompson/Getty]
BMW to Exit Formula One at End of 2009 Season.
* Press Release
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 Norbert Reithofer Press Conference on the Realignment of BMW AG's Motor Sports Activities
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for joining us at such short notice here today.
Yesterday, the Board of Management made the following decision:
• We will realign our motor sports activities.
• The BMW Group will end its Formula One activities at the end of the 2009 season.
• We will remain active in the field of motor sports, focusing on close-to-production motor sports and promoting young drivers.
• We will pool our expertise and financial resources in the fields of sustainability and new technology development.
In 2007, we set the foundation for a strategic realignment of the BMW Group by adopting our Strategy Number ONE. Now we are rolling out this strategy in all areas within the BMW Group.
In addition, we initiated an internal change process that goes hand in hand with a new mindset throughout our workforce.
All measures and activities aim for the same goal, namely to ensure our company's future viability.
This is the focus to which we are dedicating our resources and capacities, while constantly adjusting them to new requirements.
The BMW Group is the world's leading premium car company in the automotive industry. We believe that this demands accountability
• with respect to our products,
• with respect to who we are as a company,
• with respect to our social commitment,
• and with respect to the premium business model.
We are of the opinion that the premium segment has to remain a positive role model within our society.
By launching our Efficient Dynamics technology program, we began early on to reduce our vehicles' fuel consumption and emissions significantly. Today, our BMW and MINI fleet in Germany consumes a mere 5.9 liters of fuel on average. This is below the average of Germany's largest-volume brand.
Sportiness and dynamics remain the key attributes of all BMW models, albeit paired with responsibility.
At the IAA, we will showcase a concept car as a"CO2 champion" to demonstrate a whole new dimension of driving pleasure with regards to efficiency with performance.
In line with our Strategy Number ONE, we are continually reviewing all projects and initiatives to check them for future viability and sustainability.
We made this clear with the initial announcement of our Strategy Number ONE. And, naturally, this also includes motor sports.
And I have always been clear about my position on making tough decisions that will help ensure the BMW Group's success over the long run.
As our company places stronger focus on sustainability initiatives, our participation in Formula One becomes less a key promoter of this engagement.
It goes without saying that this step was very difficult for us-as well as for me personally.
On behalf of the entire Board of Management, I would like to express our immense gratitude to Mario Theissen for his commitment and successes.
Everyone knows that the BMW brand embodies sportiness with sheer driving pleasure. Sportiness and fair competition are firmly encoded in our DNA.
This is why we will remain loyal to motor sports. But we will do this in series that enable us to transfer technology more directly and to realize additional synergies, while strengthening our brand values. This is in our customers' best interest.
As a company, we are making a paradigm shift based on our Strategy Number ONE. We are setting new priorities in an ever-changing environment.
The focus of the BMW Group will be towards sustainable development over the next years and decades to come.
Our vision remains clear: to be the leading provider of premium products and premium services for individual mobility.
We will pursue this vision with resolve.
Thank you for your attention.