Gerhard Berger: “BMW gave up on F1 too soon”

Racing | January 23rd, 2011 by 12
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Former F1 driver Gerhard Berger criticises BMW for pulling the plug on its F1 programme and says the patience was always missing. July 2009 brought …

Former F1 driver Gerhard Berger criticises BMW for pulling the plug on its F1 programme and says the patience was always missing.

July 2009 brought a lot of sadness in the heart of BMW fans and sport racing aficionados around the world. BMW announced their retreat from the Formula 1 Championship blaming the exit mostly on the economic downturn and the refocus on sustainable project.

“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”, said Dr. Norbert Reithofer, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, at the time of the announcement.

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The subject has been highly debated at the time and still continues to be controversial nearly two years later. Former Formula 1 driver, Gerhard Berger came forward recently and publicly criticized BMW’s premature exit from the exciting world of F1.

Berger, who raced with the likes of Ferrari, McLaren and Benetton, winning twelve grand’s prix during a career spanning more than a decade between 1984-1997, and who was BMW’s joint motorsport director with Mario Theissen between 1998-2003, told Auto Motor Und Sport this week that the German manufacturer gave up on the sport too quickly.

BMW should have persevered with its F1 programme, that’s the view of the companies former motorsport director, Gerhard Berger.

Even further, Berger reckons BMW never had the patience necessary to succeed and achieve what Red Bull Racing managed in F1 2010, when the Milton Keynes-based squad clinched both titles. BMW’s adventure in F1 as an official team began in 2005 when they bought the Sauber team and split from their engine deal with Williams.

BMW pulled out of F1 in 2009, just four years on from purchasing the Sauber team and splitting with Williams. The engine supply deal with Williams had started in 2000.

“The way BMW had set up its own team was correct. But they should have shown perhaps a little more perseverance,” Berger said. “It’s interesting with F1 that you cannot get the title at a first attempt.

“It takes a lot of very hard work until the successes come and you need to stick at it. The conditions needed to achieve what Red Bull has now reached and the reason why that didn’t happen for them was always the patience was missing. Dietrich Mateschitz of Red Bull had it. He had bad years, however he continued. And now it has been rewarded. Now he gets a return on his investment.”

Willi Weber, who managed Michael Schumacher and who now manages Nico Hulkenberg, meanwhile agreed with that assessment.

“BMW stepped out absolutely too early. But in F1 winning is everything,” Weber chipped-in.

We still hope to see a competitive BMW returning to F1 this decade.

[Source: ]

12 responses to “Gerhard Berger: “BMW gave up on F1 too soon””

  1. peter says:

    Its easy to say what Gerhard contends, but one must also look at F1 as an organization itself and the complexities of spending hundreds of millions of dollars on an engine while F1 constantly changes the rules and parameters for a manufacturer to follow. Red Bull succeeded because F1 changed the playing field so that Ferrari, BMW and Mercedes will have a tougher road to plow in order to win.

    With that said, BMW made the right choice.

    • Auday says:

      “Red Bull succeeded because F1 changed the playing field so that Ferrari, BMW and Mercedeswill have a tougher road to plow in order to win.”

      Sorry, but thats so not true. RedBull made it because of the talent of Adrian Newey and because the team was taking solid consistent steps every season, of course with the help of talented drivers.
      The sport keeps changing and you will always have bad seasons, BMW pulled the plug after just one bad season, also they were trying to change the image of the company as a high-efficiny turbo engine based cars which is far from what F1 was heading towards.
      Now that F1 will go back to 4 cyl probably turbo charged engines I guess BMW will regret their decision.
      And BTW running a high-end F1 team like Mercs or BMW is not as expensive as you might think because the income from Ads and Media/TV rights covers most of the expenses, otherwise you wont see a team of a small company like Ferrari having the biggest F1 budget.

      • Heddlu_Cymru M5 says:

        ”the income from Ads and Media/TV rights covers most of the expenses”

        Sorry, that isn’t correct. In fact, each team have to pay a certain amount of money for the TV and Ads deals. They only gain money or equipments from sponsorship, supplier deals, prize money, team owner contributions, tyre provision and supply of customer engines where appropriate. Right of this year, Red Bull has the biggest team resource from their own company Red Bull energy drink.

        Red Bull made it because they have Adrian Newey, good drivers, team personnel and a big budget. Without money, they can’t pay Adrian thus Adrian can’t provide them the best car. Every single development, even the small development of winglet on the front wing cost them a million dollar. In F1, if you have the money and consistent team personnel, you will succeed. Ferrari gained success from their own Ferrari and their title sponsor Marlborro…

        • Auday says:

          google Concorde agreement

          • Heddlu_Cymru M5 says:

            Yes they do get the share of the television revenues and prize money from the Concorde Agreement but not by much.

            Basically it goes like this:

            50% of the money goes to CVC/Bernie.

            Of the 50% remaining, 10% of that goes to Ferrari as a ‘reward’ for being the longest serving team in F1, which leaves 45% to be split among the other teams. This was the deal that made Ferrari go over to Bernie’s side when the car makers were threatening a breakaway series a few years ago – remember Bernie’s “we bought Ferrari” quotes during the FIA/FOTA fight earlier 2009?

            This remaining 45% is then split among the teams, with the proportion being split according to finishing position in the constructors championship – the higher you finish, the more you get. I think the 10th placed team gets around $10 million or more.

            When there were 11 or more teams, the money was split among the top 10 teams only – this is why a point of two was so precious to teams like Minardi for example. It’s all part of the secret Concorde Agreement. It’s also why Frank Williams doesn’t want a 13th team or more…

  2. Heddlu_Cymru M5 says:

    BMW Sauber have a team resource of $366.8 million in 2008 with highest Toyota clocking $445.6 million (Source from F1Fanatic). I don’t think BMW pulling out of F1 needs to be criticised because that was BMW’s own rights to say whether they wanted to be in F1 or not. Sure I am a bit dissapointed when they announce they will withdraw from F1 but for good reason… Now that they quit, they’re doing success in production-car form motorsport like GT, Touring Car and such…

  3. Joe says:

    Frankly if Porsche and Audi are not in F1 then I don’t see any logical need for BMW to be there. It makes no impact on their fortunes as a company looking to remain independent and a top selling luxury/prem. automaker.

  4. Roland Renno says:

    Formula One [F1] has recently become like an ironic TV show, especially with the control of Bernie Ecclestone, Max Mosley, and their derivatives who never abdicate their throne to younger characters. Changing the rules every now and then and freezing engines’ and electronics’ upgrades, made BMW unable to fully compete with its engines at its best, something that BMW always excelled at. For that reason, F1 turned from the pinnacle of Motorsport to become a routine sport like Kart or others, contributing all benefits to Bernie & Co., not to big companies like Toyota, BMW, Jaguar, Renault, etc…

    Besides that, F1 has never shown the importance of engines, electronics, etc… as much as it did with drivers and chassis. Drivers earned everything while in reality aren’t worth 10% of what they get paid for. So in m opinion, BMW came up with the best decision to withdraw from the sport.

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