• Jul 29th 2009 at 8:28AM
  • 36
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.

* 29.07.2009
* 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

* 29.07.2009
* Speech

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.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      For those saying this is the beginning of the end and F1 is irreparably damaged... LOL. You need to look at the history of this sport a bit more.

      This is just the end of a 15 year period of heavy manufacturer involvement and heavy spending. Until the mid-90s F1 teams for the most part had team owner's and not not car maker's names on them, and the strongest of them flew the flag for guys named Williams and Mclaren.

      Spending has skyrocketed because of the presence of Renault, BMW, Toyota, Mercedes and Honda. With the exit of BMW (and probably Toyota and Renault to follow) we'll see costs eventually go down, more teams invest in the sport and the competition rather than the politics once more be the focus. And all as a natural process instead of these ham-fisted rule changes the FIA and FOTA have been hissyfitting over the last few years.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The only way to make a small fortune in racing is to start with a large one. With the cost of a hundred million for a back marker team in F1 and the depressed auto market you have to believe that all F1 factory teams will be questioning the expense.

      All except Ferrari.

      I don't see Richard Branson doubling down with Virgin sponsorship for Brawn.

      How deep are U-Tubes pockets?
      • 6 Years Ago
      BMW made it's self from racing, taking the sport out of BMW is like taking the history out of Mercedes-Benz. Can't they do both? Develop new green technologies and race?
        • 6 Years Ago
        "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."
      • 6 Years Ago
      It's kind of entertaining to me to hear all the babble on the boards about BMW's being underpowered but when you look at the reality (lap times) and these underpowered cars you get a completely different story.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Though I am truely disappointed that BMW is pulling out of F1. For me this will be a perminant mark on the pedegree of BMW. Just BC things got tuff you decide to bail ship. U failures!!! BMW has no one to blame but themselve. They had success when they were with Williams, then things got all pissy and they decided to form their own team. Since then things have gone down hill. You got lucky last year with a win or two then decided to focus on the 2009 car and dropped the ball. You forced KERS only to not use it. Ugg u failures!! I am sure Mercedes is laughin the arses off. BMW bow down before the might of the tri star Mercedes Benz.......evil laugh!!
        • 6 Years Ago
        BMW pulled out with good reasons, based on unstable Formula 1 politics and management and a relatively unstable global economy that is putting pressure on their production car sales. It's not as if their abandoning ship for no valid, responsible reason? To say that is ignorant of the whole situation most car manufacturers are facing.

        It's actually smart that they're pulling out because Formula 1 at the moment is just one massive money pit with no extended, long term benefit? BMW, like Audi (a rival German company), want to reserve their position as either 'THE' or one of the 'Best Selling Luxury cars' around the world. BMW and Audi, are not like Mercedes-Benz; they don't make trucks and school buses! So obviously there is another source of income for M-B!

        Are you forgetting something? Mercedes-Benz isn't even a true sports car company anymore, just merely a luxury, prestigious brand. Why?
        1) Because M-B is now making trucks and buses - such a true sports company isn't it. Maybe we'll see Ferrari doing that one day to? Maybe even Pagani? Bugatti anyone?

        2) Because AMG have hardly accomplished anything significant compared to BMW M? Compare Mclaren SLR to Mclaren F1, which one accomplish more in automotive industry? The Mclaren SLR has trouble even facing up against a Carrera GT, let alone a Mclaren F1.

        3) You want to talk about sourcing engines to supercars? AMG outsource engines to Pagani. Awesome. Pagani Zonda is a great, awesome, sleek car; but so is the Ascari KZ1 and Ascari A10? Which are actually faster than a Zonda around one of the most infamous, hardcore power tracks in the world: Top Gear's Power Track here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Top_Gear_Test_Track

        4) You want to talk about creating the 'perfect' sports/performance engine. BMW are definitely better at this than Mercedes-Benz. Why? Because BMW have been acknowledge a lot more than M-B at producing some of the finest engines in the world; and that is acknowledge through one of the most prestigious automotive awards: The International Engine of the Year award - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Engine_of_the_Year

        5) Do you want to talk about Motorsport racing? Sure, Mercedes-Benz is definitely more experience than BMW; obviously because of its older age; but if you look up all the races of of the FIA including WTC and WSC among many, BMW has actually won almost as much championships as Mercedes-Benz.

        So don't come on here giving BMW a hard time. They may not be the best brand out, but they certainly don't have to bow down to a car brand that my old grandpa drives when his 70 years old and dying with cancer. Oh wait? Maybe add a huge 6.2L M156 V8 and lots of fender flare and call it a sports car just because its quad exhausts growl.

        Take a walk. Audi and BMW FTW!

        If you think BMW isn't, think again about Mercedes-Benz.ore
      • 6 Years Ago
      It is all about business...nothing about "bravery", "will", "honor", "heritage". I see that many of you that criticize these decisions do so through a key board in your mom's basement. I wonder if you had to make a decision on letting someone go this year in a business that you had no other choice...believe me its not easy.

      BMW, Honda, and others need to think about their core business before the extras like F1 racing. It is expensive....as it should be, it is the pinnacle of motorsport. But F1 has made some big decisions that made it less attractive to all factory teams.

      Newsflash Bernie...US is the largest or a close 2nd market for BMW, Ferrari, Toyota..etc. Yes, Americans are not as aware of F1, but those who purchase Ferraris and premium BMWs, Mercs, are wholly aware of F1.

      • 6 Years Ago
      Thanks to the rule changes that restrict technology development, F1 no longer fits BMW plans as a breading ground for technology and engineers.

      Thanks to the greed of Bernie there is no longer any North American races, and as North America is BMW's largest market I would say F1 no longer fits BMW marketing strategy either.

      The worse thing about this at that now were going to hear from that dipstick Mosley about how this is exactly what he said would happen and how if they had accepted his rules everything would be all rosy.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I disagree that Max's rules would have made any difference to BMW.

        IMHO I think the crap season they have had has embarrassed them and though thay play it down that's a big point. And I think the Marketing angle is a big one, for the manufacturers and sponsors that the main justification for being involved in F1. Despite what he will say his rule wouldn't address where the races are held, that's the money grabbing dwarf.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I dunno about fine. It's clear F1 is facing a car count problem. Mosley's system would have prevented a car count problem and kept BMW in for sure. But of course that's no guarantee of quality racing, which sounds like is more what you are concentrated on.

        Personally, as much as I don't like Bernie or Max, I think that something big has to happen in F1 or they'll end up with nothing. Perhaps Max's half a loaf will start looking good in a few years when there's only 3 teams competing out there.
        • 6 Years Ago
        And that is EXACTLY what happened. The FIA put out a statement saying exactly that.
      • 6 Years Ago
      BMW had an F1 team?
      • 6 Years Ago
      It's perfectly fine for BMW to leave Formula 1. It is a very wise move indeed. Sure it may seem like a 'wuss' move, but its all in the interests of trying to retain financial stability as much as they can, especially in a time of economic instability.

      I doubt that they're quitting F1 entirely on the fact that their performance is not up to scratch. BMW Sauber F1 only came in 2006. Over 2-3 year is managed to rank very highly right up to 2nd, 3rd and in 2008; they were even in the spotlight to claim Constructor championship.

      It won't be long before other teams follow, F1 has just become so political, money-hungry and people; especially those in Europe are losing interest in it. There are better races in the FIA, why stay with F1. BMW should concentrate on other FIA races. They're new M3 GT2 is slaughtering and claiming heaps of championships. Some of us may think BMW is rather crap when it comes to Motorsport racing; but actually take the time for yourself and look up all the FIA races BMW has competed in...it has been absolutely, insanely successful with the E30 320i, E46 M3 GTR and E92 M3 GT2.

      I think BMW should give a shot at the DTM against Opel and Mercedes-Benz. If BMW production cars can claim faster track times on the Nurburgring and Top Gear's infamous Power Track; why not give it a shot at DTM?
      • 6 Years Ago
      No big surprise. A company well known for its sports car should not be struggling as much as BMW was. A few times they were "almost there" but for the most part, their performance was always below what was expected.
      • 6 Years Ago
      So there goes the last remaining interest I had in Formula 1. With all the series mis-management (Bernie, Max, et al) and now my brand team withdrawing, I have little to no reason to watch.

      BMW Corporate has lost its focus. The new M3 is a fat pig, the M brand is diluted with 7-series and X-trucks, and not a single small, light, fast car on offer. Even the 1-series is overweight and underdeveloped, never mind that it costs 50% more than it should.

      I'll stick with my E30 and E36 cars, maybe even adding an E46 M3 to the fleet, but nothing they're making today makes me aspire to visit the dealership, or even look forward to owning one second hand in a couple of years.
        • 6 Years Ago
        100% agree....except add in the E34 M5 too

        F1 is still appealing to me, just not as appealing as last year or the year before.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I would much rather they put their efforts into the sports cars series (touring, le mans, etc) than be in a series with constant rule changes. Lets face it, they're also not performing up to expectations and given the cost of F1, their money might be better spent elsewhere. It's pretty hilarious when the subject is BMW to hear Honda injected into the equation. Honda are doing what they need to do to survive and in the car business, it's all about the bottom line. For those who have forgotten, Honda (and BMW) has built some of the best F1 engines in the history of the sport..........as well as the other company people like to laugh at, Ford.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Ford have built the best engines?????

        I think you will find the engines with the Ford badges were designed by Cosworth a little engineering company that Ford eventually bought and then sold. Currently that company is in the hands of Gerald Forsythe and Kevin Kalkhoven.
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