Should BMW Return To Formula 1?

Racing | January 2nd, 2012 by 21
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BMW has denied that there is any intention to return to Formula 1 and instead will focus its racing program on winning the DTM championship. (Read: BMW Leaves Formula 1)

In the past, ex-BMW Motorsport boss, Mario Theissen, said that BMW is “not returning to Formula 1” now or in the near future . We believe that a future comeback to the exciting Formula 1 Racing would be beneficial for the road technology and here are some of our motives.

For 2014, the Formula 1 Technical Regulations call for the use of a 1.6 liter turbocharged engine limited to 12,000 RPM. We believe that by 2014 over 50 percent of BMW cars sold will have turbocharged engines. The primary focus for Formula 1 is to demonstrate improved efficiencies and to allow a closer link to constructor’s production vehicles. While BMW is dedicated to the GT and DTM racing programs (with immense success), clearly the marketing value of success in the preeminent motor sports league should be the draw.

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New and existing engine constructors are gearing up for what could be a very competitive turbocharged season. VW and Honda have indicated interest in the new formula for F1 racing. Both future engine builders have the financial and the technological capability to meet the challenges of the 2014 season. Another company preparing to meet the upcoming technical regulations is Mercedes. Even though the F1 racing program is without a doubt the most expensive program in the motorsport world, BMW has the potential to lead in engine development  and greatly benefit from the outcome by moving some of the technology to road legal vehicles. With its advancement in turbocharged technology, BMW has the capability to build not only exceptionally powerful units, but also highly efficient.

Furthermore, there are other technologies that are in synergy with BMW’s long-term green philosophy. The turbocharged engine specification will come to improve fuel efficiency along with KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems). KERS could account for an additional 120KW up from the current 60KW allowable. This falls in line with BMW’s environmentally oriented programs for hybrids and electric vehicles. These improved energy recovery systems used for the 2014 F1 could find their way into BMW’s passenger cars.

(Read: Gerhard Berger – “BMW gave up on F1 too soon”)

At a first glance there seem to be two ways for the company to get back into the F1 game. One, as an engine manufacturer, proving that their turbocharging technology is here to stay and provides more advanced capabilities than the competitors. Or second, as a fully independent team that could capitalize on the environmental orientation that Formula 1 is taking. One could stay that a wise decision would be to first begin as an engine maker and then in time move into a full constructor position. We believe that the approach with Sauber team was a failure partly because BMW took on so many responsibilities from the beginning rather than iterating and taking a more cautious approach.

Have they learned the right lesson from the previous experience? Time will tell, and in the mean time, rumor has it that a certain constructor named from the UK is running in the red. Could there be a better time to make that decision? We are not holding our breath for now, especially after the newly announced commitment to DTM, but down the road, the F1 topic might end up on the table of the new BMW Motorsport boss, Jean Marquardt.


21 responses to “Should BMW Return To Formula 1?”

  1. Adam says:

    I never got the feeling that BMW garnered much from F1.  All the tech and performance innovations made by BMW have been made on road cars or touring style cars.  F1 doesnt seem to fit BMW’s character, BMW is a GT racing kinda brand, like Ferrari and Mclaren are F1 kind of companies.

  2. FreudeKing says:

    I think BMW would have the potential to dominate F1 if they stayed a little longer and not left. But then again, the new management of The BMW Group is so stingy with their money that it would mean that they will not return to F1, even though it may improve the brand image of the company.

    If they were to choose a project to do, I would rather have them build a production super car and spend some money plotting them in movies to boost this sinking brand image. 

    • Ahmad Haziq says:

      The other way, I think BMW has made the best decision to get out of Formula 1. I read an article somewhere in 2009 about teams withdrewing from F1 and BMW stated that in 2008 alone they spent more than hundreds of million Euro just to get to where they were. Think gain, it’s not worth it. The way that they’re going now with GT racing, Touring car and Endurance racing actually is much better. The current condition of F1 is not at the best…

  3. Tom says:

    Would be wonder to see BMW compete at the pinnacle of auto racing, however I wonder F1 is truly the pinnacle.

  4. Avi says:

    I strongly feel that BMW should return to F1. BMW is one of the most technologically advanced cars available today and it will only add to the excitement in F1. I have sorely missed BMW in F1 since they quit.

  5. kiril toshev says:

    The 2014 F1 engine will be 1.6 turbocharged V6. Let’s not intend BMW to build such an engine ! Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the new BMW engine family comes with the new 3 series coupe, as well as it was with the previous generation ?

    • Apart from the turbo disel engines and the large-displacement turbo petrol V8 engines found in the X6 and M5, BMW´s closest match for F1 would be the petrol 3.0l straight 6 twin-turbo with variable valve timing in the 1M, 335 and 535, or the 1.6l straight 4 turbo, also with variable valve timing, that powers the Mini Cooper S. The 2014 F1 engine, however, calls for a 1.6l V6 turbo with fixed valve timing and other technical restrictions that are common place in high-performance production cars, such as turbo pressure booster… in other words, far from the same thing. The F1 rules allow for some interesting ERS (energy recovery system) to power an anti-turbo-lagg device, though. Wich seams less complicated than variable turbo geometry developed by Porsche to reduce turbo lagg, also forbidden in F1. This technology, alongside other ERS, such as the famed KERS, could make into production BMW high-performance high-efficiency hybrids, if they choose to venture back in F1 that is. It´s the age of the ///EHM POWER

  6. Jim6 says:

    “We believe that by 2014 over 50 percent of BMW cars sold will have turbocharged engines”

    Correct me if I’m wrong but aren’t there only about 3 engines in the current line up that are naturally aspirated? Two of those are about to disappear as well so it’ll probably be over 95% of cars sold that will be turbocharged by 2014 surely?

    That said, BMW would appear to be among the best in the world with turbos (just look at the power of their diesel engines and – according to reviews – responsiveness of the new high power twin turbos) so would there really be anything to gain by moving into F1? Especially since they currently don’t make a V6 (we’ll see if that changes in the F80 M3 though….!)?

    • LaMa says:

      goo point !  Its well over 50% already so it will be most likely 100% in 2014.
      There will be no NA engine by then in the BMW lineup at all.

  7. a entrance in f1 is stii to expensive as a single team and bmw definetly doesn’t want to spend a shitload of money doing so. as you said the smart ideea would be to focus on engines first. as the 1.6 turbo engines bmw should bow see the benefits in marketing to their road cars. BMW POWER

  8. john wilcox says:

    Well I guess it would help BMW produce a Great sound for their fake sound in the M5.                       Crank up the power. OH boy!!

  9. Brandon_airey says:

    Yes, but only as an engine manufacturer. They were
    Quite successfull with Williams 10 years ago. If they
    Never strayed from engine supply they would still be
    In the greatest race series ever. Come on BMW we
    An m power F1 car to go with the F80 M3!!

  10. empower says:

    bmw left f1 because of the politics and the fact that the could not develop the engines further or couldn’t develop its own electronics or test things which would improve mechanical grip . they only thing they could sink there teeth into was kers which they did to the detriment of the balance and areo dynamics of there last cars. most of the budget was on wind tunnel test which was not beneficial to there road cars so they left. bmw did well the short time they where a full team they took a team like sauber to the front of the grid. look whats happened to willams since they left them. 
    compare that with what Mercedes which took a championship team and are now a mid table team and in some races the slowest mercedes powered team. so how much good is f1 doing for mercedes, how much good did f1 do or is doing for renualt.
    if only frank williams and Patrick head would of sold half of willams to bmw or let had more input  and the fia did not pander to ross brawn 

  11. Bangin says:

    They could come back as engine supplier. if not a whole team.
    Back in the “turbo era” they made the most powerfull turbo engines ever. 1.5 liter with over 1500hp.
    and their N/A engines were very powerfull too.

  12. guest says:

    The age of manufacturers in F1 as full factory backed efforts is more or less over – it seems sportscars (whether it be prototypes or GT cars) is the hot new realm for car makers, especially with many different brands jumping onto the WEC bandwagon.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Well whether BMW make a comeback or no, Formula1 does seem to be dying to have more manufacturers in the sport as spelled out here as well. What do you think readers?

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