Former BMW F1 team boss Mario Theissen denies BMW comeback to F1 under new rules

3-Series | September 24th, 2010 by 17
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Former BMW F1 boss and current head of BMW Motorsport, Mario Theissen, has welcomed in a recent interview the proposed changes to F1’s engine rules. …

Former BMW F1 boss and current head of BMW Motorsport, Mario Theissen, has welcomed in a recent interview the proposed changes to F1’s engine rules.

To put away the fire, he immediately insisted that BMW is not looking to return to Formula 1 and the Munich-based automaker will continue to focus its efforts in other area of motorsport.

Although unable to comment fully on the changes planned for the sport’s highest echelon, Theissen admitted that, while the proposed switch to turbo-charged four-cylinder 1600cc forced induction engines for 2013 was a good move, it would not be enough to make BMW reconsider its withdrawal.

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“Don’t expect that,” he said for, “When we pulled out, this was a decision for many years, because it takes many years to put something together like this. And the main reason was that we wanted to focus on production car racing instead of formula car racing. This is certainly a decision for many years. We are just ramping up our production car programme around the M3 GT2 during the American Le Mans Series and the European 24-hour races, and we are about to decide on a future programme in DTM.”

Furthermore, Theissen agreed that the switch in engine formula was a good one for the sport to make, bringing it more in line with road car thinking.

Here are some of his quotes from the same interview:

“I can only really comment on the engine, because I don’t know the other proposals,” the German admitted, “but, from a manufacturers’ perspective, it is the right move to change to innovative technologies that are relevant to road cars”.
“If we look at the road car side, we have a conversion right now from high-revving naturally-aspirated engines towards turbo engines with direct injection. So it perfectly makes sense to adapt this concept and maybe combine it with other innovative elements like KERS or something further developed, in order to keep F1 on the edge and probably to be able to be an innovator again for future road car technology.

“Also, I think, current engines are too expensive, so if there is a new set of regulations, it would be a good move to frame the regulations so that design-wise the engine costs will be lower. Of course, F1 has to be the pinnacle of racing and technology has to be on the highest level there, but especially on the engine side, we can do something to get it more affordable.”

As we learned in the past, BMW will continue to focus its efforts in the GT arena and also the popular WTCC program. With the historical win this year at Nurburgring, it is expected to see a larger budget allocated to GT cars.

Unfortunately for us, die hard Formula 1 fans, the BMW colors will not race any time soon in a Grand Prix.

[Source: via ]

17 responses to “Former BMW F1 team boss Mario Theissen denies BMW comeback to F1 under new rules”

  1. Shawn says:

    This is actually the most promising word of BMW’s return to F1 since they pulled out. They do not need to return as a car manufacturer, but simply an engine supplier to enjoy the world class publicity of success in F1.

    We know that no one makes better engines, even with Williams BMW was setting the fastest trap times over Ferrari and others. This turbo 1600cc engine concept is natural territory for BMW.

    2013 is “many years” away at this point, I can’t help but imagine there are engineers somewhere in Munich analyzing project viability in the long run. He did, after all, admit that after some years, rejoining F1 is possible. BMW come and go as they please, as the sport suits them or fails too. These engines, especially if coupled with KERS, will suit BMW very well.

    • Andrew says:

      I agree with the idea that a role as engine supplier suits them well in the current climate. They provided the engine that won the 1983 World Championship and it was also a turbocharged 4-cylinder.

      It sounds as though BMW will focus a lot of attention around a turbocharged 1600cc 4-cylinder as I believe it will have relevance both in the WRC and WTCC. I would assume that if an engine can withstand those pushing series it could hold up in F1. Personally, I would love to see a return to cars with outrageous HP from tiny engines.

      As for the DTM thing – it’s too much like German NASCAR these days and less like it used to be with cars more closely resembling their road-going equivalents. I’d rather see a bigger budget dedicated to MINI in the WRC, the WTCC and the GT programs – with engine development paid for by engine supplier sales in F1. :-)

  2. DT///M awaits says:

    BMW should definitely return to DTM and beat Audi/Mercedes on a home soil.

  3. KeyboardWarrior says:

    What the hell is worng with F1? Now we are going to have a 1600 4 cylinder engine? They clearly forgot about the fact that they should be the ultimate motorsport races – i.e. should be most technologically advanced and to an extent, the highest degree of motorsport. Now they are going to use engines that are even lower than my current two litre diesel? What’s next? racing in F1 using motorcycle engines? They have also been doing all they can to restrict technological usage.

    If this is the trend I think I should start Formula Ultimate – 5Litre V10 NA Engines only with minimal restrictions on technological advancements and usage. You can still encourage environmentally friendly practices using relatively bigger engines. What a bunch of IDIOTS!

    btw. if they want to race with 1600 engines, they should rather take the 116 and Minis and race those instead of making new F1 cars. Also did I mention that the new F1 cars are bloody ugly with massive front wings and mini rear wings – absolute imbalance ito design. It is for the above reasons that I don’t watch any longer.

    • Andrew says:

      I get the feeling you don’t know much about Formula One. Why? Well, if you did then you would know that during the late 1970’s through the mid 1980’s F1 cars were all turbocharged, low displacement, low cylinder-count engines.

      Renault introduced the first turbocharged cars in the late 1970’s and after a while everyone followed suit. When Nelson Piquet won the 1983 championship in a Brabham BMW (powered by a modified BMW M10/20 4 cylinder engine) the car engine was producing nearly 1,300+ HP (from a 1,500cc engine!) in qualifying spec. That’s roughly 600HP more than the existing regulations.

      For further comment, Ayrton Senna won the 1988 World Championship in the McLaren MP4/4 powered by a 1,500cc turbocharged V6 – it decimated the competition between Senna and Prost.

      So, with that in mind, and with many manufacturers moving towards forced induction motors( BMW, Audi, etc…) it keeps F1 more relevant to road car technologies – which keeps it justifable by major manufacturers. Also, a return to 1,000+HP engines would certainly keep me watching Formula One and F1 at the peak of racing series. So, maybe it isn’t such a bad thing after all, no?

      • Auday says:

        Andrew, even in 1983 when the Turbo dominated the season, 3 races were won by NA V8 (Monaco, and the 2 US races), why? well, it was no accident, these 3 races had slower tracks with lots of turns (in Monaco it was also raining IIRC) and in these situations Turbo is not the best way to control a car in the turns plus the lag they had at the time exciting the turns.
        Turbo dominated only because of the straight line speed, and you know racing is more about turns.

        • Andrew says:

          I agree but at the same time my guess would be that turbo lag( causing big problems in slow corners) would be nearly non-existent.

          With cars revving as high as they do now – and with modern turbo technology(nearly 30 years on from the ’83 championship) I think it would be a much more competitive. Besides, I think it could make the series interesting and help to get passed this stupid engine freeze they’re on. Who doesn’t want the Turbo Era to come back?!

          • Auday says:

            I’m sure the turbo today is many times better, but ti’s still a turbo. Lag is not exactly the issue here, drivability is a much bigger issue.

            It’s as simple as that, in NA engines at the same conditions, given the RPM and the throttle position, the Torque of the engine is known and consistent. In Turbo it’s not , it depends on what is the Turbo shaft RPM is at that given moment,
            Of course the Turbo Shaft would settle eventually but until then it’s a responsiveness lag.

            For that reason the NA teams used to control the show in the curvy races, and no matter how good the turbos are today they still have the same issue to some level.

            We all like that era, but for different reasons, 82,83,86,and 87 were the best seasons because of the overtaking and the number of competitive teams, today’s F1 would suck even more if they get into Turbo.

  4. Laszlo says:

    with a smaller less expensive engines, this is exactly what they are trying to bring back. The trouble is the big – reduce the cost – is out on the window if they change the rules every 2-3 years.
    The Turbo’s of today and 20 years ago are not even on a same paper but I agree with the lag. I know that the x35’s supposed to have no lag, but they do. Specially with the automatic.
    The F1 cars are constantly in a high rpm range, so they can eliminate some of lag issues, also the transmissions are much faster then the manuals used to be.
    It will be interesting to see who will have the engine that can produce more HP and still be alive for 3-4 races. Turbo engines die faster then NA engine due the added stress.
    As far as technology goes, its fairly easy to produce high HP from a large engine, but it takes a really advanced technology to make the same HP from a smaller engine. I bet that their speed will not drop with the 1.6 T engines at all.
    The weight will be less and smaller engines mean smaller cars, so they will be faster in the turns and same speed on the straight.
    I just want more of the passing/tactics then today’s high speed runs. I want to see fight for the position on the track not in the paddock and pits lane.

  5. Nick says:

    I think it will make more sense for BMW to return to F1 at least as engine manufacter if they can keep the costs lower and design engines that will also give an edge to their production models.
    And since BMW decided to go turbo, they couldn’t justify the costs of a not-so-good F1 team that wouldn’t bring much tech to their production models.
    After all they are germans and a company, they think with their money and a F1 team like the one they had did not make sense for their business.

    Theissen handled the interview in a professional manner, he left a “business” window open, “transferring” the pressure to the F1 to set the best regulations for the car makers.

  6. Andrew says:

    I don’t think F1 would suck today if you had cheaper engine costs and more accessible designs. Half of the problems with the backrunners are that they don’t have the resources to really compete with the likes of Ferrari/McLaren/Benz/Renault. The only reason teams like Lotus or HRT are present in F1 is due to Ecclestone’s failed attempt to provide budget-conscious teams entry into F1 – it’s a failed two tier system.

    If you could provide regulations for cheaper turbo engines versus NA engines (like they did in the 1980’s) that lend to disadvantaged teams then I think it would be more interesting than today’s teams where more than half the field are basically moving chicanes for front runners.

    As for road cars – imagine if BMW translated the engine to a special edition road car? a 320Ti or something along those lines that could be tuned and produce insane HP? I think many, many enthusiasts would be up for that.

  7. BIMMER1 says:

    I for one am happy to see them out of F1. I think it was obvious that their last few years in F1 were more for show and publicity than anything else. It just didn’t seem like they wanted to make the next jump financially to really commit to beating Ferrari/McLaren. So I guess what I’m saying is I’d rather see more GT racing with BMW winning races and contending for championships than just settling for mediocre results in F1 and having no $$$ left for GT support. If anything I’d really love to see them build a prototype car again over going back to F1. It would be nice to show Audi that even though we’ve been away from the game we can still kick their butt at will.

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