According to Mario Theissen, a number of carmakers are carefully thinking about getting into Formula One. Theissen is head of BMW Motorsports, and after running the Bavarian automakers foray into engine supply in partnership with the Williams team, led the company towards buying the Sauber team wholesale. In a short span of time and with minimal investment, Theissen has transformed the team from a solid midfield contender to a legitimate challenger for the championship alongside McLaren and Ferrari. Theissen believes that other automakers, inspired by BMW's success, are re-examining the prospect of joining Formula One. The BMW chief also believes that the development of the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) being implemented in F1 is a strong motivator for automaker participation, noting that BMW's own R&D departments are anxiously knocking at Sauber's door to derive road-going systems based on KERS.
Although Formula One presents a lackluster case for American automakers, many of the world's leading foreign manufacturers participate in the sport, including BMW, Renault, Mercedes-Benz, Fiat, Honda and Toyota. So who does that leave? Theissen says Volkswagen/Audi/Porsche are closely considering entering F1, along with several unnamed Asian automakers. Although its sister company Renault already runs a team, Nissan has been touted as a possible entry. More likely, however, is that Hyundai/Kia will seek the prominence and the technology to go with its rise in the ranks by joining the fray.
[Source: F1-Live, Photo: Mark Thompson/Getty]