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.

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