F1Fanatic UK: Why is BMW really quitting F1?

Racing | August 12th, 2009 by 7

The announcement that BMW will leave the Formula 1 Championship at the end of this year has come as a shock to many BMW fans …

The announcement that BMW will leave the Formula 1 Championship at the end of this year has come as a shock to many BMW fans and not only. Many rumors and opinions have been thrown around on what could be the reasons why BMW decided to leave the F1 and BMW has tried to answer many of these questions during their press conference.

Just a few days back, the fellows at F1fanatic UK have compiled a list of plausible reasons behind BMW’s decision. Let’s have a glance at their analysis, but before that, we would like to enumerate the reasons we believed affected this decision: costs, disappointing results in 2009 and the loss of several key sponsors. It is encouraging though that BMW has no plans to entirely leave the Motorsport world and we’re hoping to see them involved even more in the future.

“BMW’s statement had much to say about their corporate strategy and implied reasons to do with environmentally-friendly technology were at the heart of their decision.

Is that really all there is to it? Or, as the FIA claims, is it all to do with costs?
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BMW’s explanation

Norbert Reithofer’s explanation for BMW’s decision to leave F1 is predictably smothered in corporate jargon:

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 realise additional synergies, while strengthening our brand values. This is in our customers’ best interest.
Norbert Reithofer

One clear message is that despite leaving F1 they are not leaving motor racing:

BMW will continue to be actively involved in other motor sports series.
BMW statement

So why single out Formula 1?:

Premium [brands] 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.
Norbert Reithofer

The statement adds:

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 statement

In other words, F1 isn’t green enough. We shouldn’t be too quick to cynically dismiss the suggestion: BMW produces among the most efficient road cars in their classes and at the beginning of 2009 was the only remaining defender of KERS. Had the FIA’s scale of ambition for the system this year been greater, and had the other teams not decided to drop it for 2010, might things have been different?

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7 responses to “F1Fanatic UK: Why is BMW really quitting F1?”

  1. Tom says:

    It’s a disappointing decision no less. If BMW wanted to save money, it should stop supporting the sailing program.

    • Lance says:

      Yes, what’s up with the sailing and golf stuff. How are they in line with BMW’s strategy???? Do they build cars like ships and transfer the aerodynamic tech from a golf ball to their cars?

  2. Mauro Corti says:

    Maybe they earn some money with the sailing program, in F1 bmw has spent millions of $ without getting the expected result. and remember that this season it’s going extremely bad for bmw. Maybe they even had complain from sponsors for the result they’re not getting, so if you add this to all the money spent (for nothing) and the lack of result..

  3. Shawn says:

    This is not about money, maybe a a tertiary reason – but it is by no means “the” reason they’re leaving.

    I see it this way; First and foremost BMW is leaving because KERS was scrapped. BMW had always been the biggest supporter of this technology and invested heavily in it as it was in clear harmony with their business philosophy of technology exchange with their production cars. With an emphasis on sustainability and effeciency, BMW was looking forward to the future of F1 with KERS.

    The second reason is somewhat linked with the first; BMW is leaving because of instability in the rules/corruption and negative press with F1. A great example is the legalization of the ILLEGAL rear trick diffuser which was underhandedly legalized by the FIA (just for the purpose of ‘mixing things up a bit’). SO successful was the F1.09 this year that at the first few races it was actually keeping near the pace set by BRAWN (without the benefit of an illegal diffuser)!!! Infact, they nearly WON a race until Kubica was hit by Vettel while running in SECOND position ON MERIT – his lap times were blazing and if maintained to the last lap he would have caught Button on failing tires, and possibly passed him for the win! People are saying BMW is leaving because they failed this year?! Hardly! BMW put an amazingly fast car together, but instability in the rules screwed them severely (along with Ferrari, McLaren, etc.), KERS was eliminated, etc, etc, BMW does not wish to make a long term investment in a series with regular flip-flop rule changes (and noted corruption in the governing body)… not a major factor but I agree that the whole Mosley Nazi thing and then Bernie’s praise of Hitler probably didn’t encourage them to stay with such a controvertial series. F1 is always making negative news – hopefully that changes in the future.

    Lastly, it would be fair to state costs as a reason, but it’s only fuel to the fire – it’s not the fire. BMW stated a re-focusing of F1 resources into other feilds of more practical development – this is actually good news in that you have some of the best F1 engineers working on your next car… : ) I dearly hope that BMW will leave a portion of their F1 resources to other fields of motorsport, including LeMans and Superbike.

    BMW will never lose the 20 F1 Wins and 34 pole positions, fastest race laps or the F1 Drivers title they won. What they achieved in the last 3 seasons was incredible by anyones standards!!! They will always remain a storied F1 competitor and nothing rules out a return to the sport if the sport changes to suit their profile in years to come. BMW can be proud of their F1 success and leave with their heads high.

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