BMW withdraw from F1

July 29, 2009

“We are here to win. We set a very clear plan three years ago, which caused me some headache at the time. We wanted to be in the points in the first year (2006), on the podium in the second (2007), win races in the third (2008) and fight for the Championship from 2009 onwards. That’s the clear schedule.”

Jenkins__1Mario Theissen, Team Principal of BMW, quoted in the 2nd Edition of Performance at the Limit: Business Lessons from Formula One Motor Racing, Cambridge University Press.

And of course Mario achieved his objectives for 2006, 2007 and 2008, but in 2009 everything went horribly wrong. BMW appear to be the Honda of 2009, and like Honda the precarious state of their core business does not afford them the luxury of staying in F1 and waiting to see if they are able to turn things around.

The BMW racing operation is built around the former Sauber team based at Hinwil in Switzerland, which employs around 350 people. The likely scenario is therefore as with Honda, BMW will attempt to sell this part of the operation as a going concern, and will draw the engine operation, which also employs in excess of two hundred people in Munich, back into its specialist Research and Development operations.

While this does not come as a huge surprise to those of us looking at F1 from the outside, it will probably send further shock waves through the paddock. So who is next? Well the obvious candidates are Renault and Toyota, they are the last of the main stream manufacturer entrants who are not dependent on motorsport and unlike Mercedes Benz they wholly own their entire operation and so can decide unilaterally on their approach. Both Renault and Toyota have already stated their commitment up to 2012, so if they are to pull out they need to do so quickly before they sign the new Concorde Agreement.

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