The increased popularity of the Formula 1 racing championship will bring several automakers into the fold. Audi and Porsche will join the Formula 1 circuit in 2026, but BMW has mostly being quiet on the subject. Today, BMW M boss Frank Van Meel confirmed in an interview that the Munich-based automaker has no intention to join Formula 1.
“We have no ambitions for Formula 1,” Van Meel firmly stated. Instead, the company continues to focus its motorsport efforts on the upcoming LMDh project. “For us, it’s really important to have the [electrification] story of transformation embraced as fast as possible. Formula 1 is still discussing the regulations around electrification. So for us, it was very clear. Let’s go faster into that [electrification] segment,” Van Meel says.
Focus on LMDh (GTP)
And LMDh presents the perfect opportunity to test BMW M’s road technology in a racing setup. Van Meel says that the LMDh cars will use a variant of the V8 plug-in hybrid powertrain introduced recently by the BMW XM and likely to be used in the future BMW M5 G90. Therefore, BMW Motorsport will focus on Le Mans Daytona Hybrid (LMDh), or more recently called IMSA GTP.
BMW announced plans to develop a Le Mans Daytona hybrid prototype in June 2021 and race it from 2023. Several months later, the head of the motorsport division said the spiritual successor to the V12 LMR would not take part in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans. The good news is we might see the LMDh machine at the endurance race the year after that.
2024 would be the right time to field the LMDh prototype on the famous Circuit de la Sarthe in France. It would celebrate the 25th anniversary of the V12 LMR, which triumphed at Le Mans back in 1999. BMW remains coy on details about the race car, but to meet regulations, its hybrid powertrain won’t have more than 500 kilowatts (670.5 horsepower). Toyota and Peugeot will use V6 combustion engines whereas Porsche has opted for a V8 with two turbochargers. Audi could use the larger engine, while Lamborghini should imminently confirm its LMDh entry for 2024.
BMW is also known for constantly evaluating their motorsport plans and are not afraid to cut ties quickly if the racing interest doesn’t align with the corporate strategies and goals. So if Formula 1 will shift more towards electrification in the future, it’s not far fetched to assume that the M boss will take another look at the iconic racing championship.