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BMW considering returning to F1

NEWS STORY
04/09/2013

Over the Belgian Grand Prix weekend rumours spread around the paddock that BMW is taking another serious look at Formula One. Apparently, it is considering whether to return as an engine supplier in 2016 and this should not come as a surprise to regular Pitpass readers.

In May Pitpass' business editor Christian Sylt revealed that F1's boss Bernie Ecclestone believes BMW will return to the sport. "I would be surprised if we don't see BMW again," he said. BMW quit F1 at the end of 2009 selling its team back to Peter Sauber who originally sold it to the German manufacturer in 2005.

It explained that its exit was down to reasons of "sustainability and environmental compatibility" and it came soon after Honda sold its F1 team. However, Honda has been tempted to return and will come back in 2015 as an engine supplier to McLaren. The driving force is the change in the engine regulations next year to hybrid 1.6-litre turbocharged V6s which will have high-tech energy recovery systems. This will (hopefully) level the playing field and increase the chance of victory for a new manufacturer.

BMW spent an estimated £505m on its previous F1 campaign and only won one race. "I think they could come in. The amount of money they spent was not significant in the grand scheme of things. It makes sense for them to return," said Ecclestone.

Someone else who might influence the BMW board is Steven Althaus. He arrived in January as the company's new director of brand management but before joining BMW he worked for insurance company Allianz where he was heavily involved with its F1 partnership. As its head of global brand management and strategic partnerships he worked directly with Ecclestone and became well-acquainted with the benefits F1 can bring.

Ecclestone admits that the new engine regulations are an attraction to new manufacturers but he says that doesn't mean they will be good for F1. The new engines are expected to lose the high-pitched screaming noise which F1 has become famous for and Ecclestone believes that this could put fans off visiting races. However, he says it is too late to change them.

"The engines are fixed now like it or not. We have got what we have got so we have to keep our fingers' crossed," says Ecclestone. Despite this vote of confidence, there are still question marks over the plan.

As recently as May, a report in a UK F1 magazine suggested that a dispute between Renault and F1's commercial rightsholder could force the French manufacturer out of the sport. It claimed if that happens then Mercedes, Ferrari and Cosworth will have to "step into the breach until Honda arrives on the scene in 2015." It then quoted an unnamed team principal saying this could mean that in 2014 "it's back to V8s." Time will tell whether that happens.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by eeyore, 05/09/2013 15:10

"So this news article is based on rumours and some wishful thinking from Ecclestone.

" "It makes sense for them to return" said Ecclestone." Does it? How about a critical appraisal of the pros and cons of a return by BMW. Who nowadays believes Ecclestone's statements to be the gospel truth?"

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2. Posted by Jackal, 04/09/2013 17:28

"I'd love to see BMW return as an engine supplier. They have all of the capabilities of producing a competitive engine to allow teams to compete with Renault, Mercedes and Ferrari."

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3. Posted by Mechanical, 04/09/2013 17:04

"Sauber aint too flush at the moment so maybe BMW could make amends by coming to their rescue."

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4. Posted by PJR, 04/09/2013 15:31

""BMW spent an estimated £505m on its previous F1 campaign and only won one race"

What about the 10 they won as an engine supplier with Williams?"

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5. Posted by Don_lyall, 04/09/2013 11:09

"I hope noone attempts a deal with them, after the scandalous way they left the Sauber team. BMW left those people without a hope in hell (save for Peter Sauber et al.)."

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