BMW is pulling out of Formula One at the end of this season, the second car maker to leave the series within a year.
The company announced the decision at a news conference yesterday, saying it wanted to use the significant F1 budget in other areas. It will remain involved in other forms of motor sport.
Since entering F1 as a team by taking over the Sauber team ahead of the 2006 season — it had previously acted as an engine supplier — BMW had posted just one race win, at last year’s Canadian Grand Prix. Touted as a championship contender for the 2009 season, BMW had been very disappointing, lagging well off the pace of the leading teams.
“Of course, this was a difficult decision for us. But it’s a resolute step in view of our company’s strategic realignment,” BMW chairman Norbert Reithofer said at the news conference.
He said the Munich-based car maker would use the resources previously spent on the F1 team to advance “sustainability and environmental compatibility.”
BMW’s withdrawal follows that of Japanese car maker Honda ahead of the 2009 season, illustrating the growing pressure upon car makers to cut costs amid a global economic downturn that had hit new car sales.
BMW achieved eight Formula One victories from 1982 to 1985 as an engine supplier to Brabham. In 1983, Brabham won the drivers’ championship with Nelson Piquet. The last win with the famed turbo engine followed with Benetton in 1986.
After quitting the series in 1987, BWM returned to F1 as engine supplier to the Williams team in 2000 and scored 10 victories until 2005, when it took over the Sauber team.
The 2008 season saw the team in the hunt for the world championship until the end of the season, winding up third.
So far, the BMW Sauber F1 Team has taken one pole position and 16 podium finishes. It is eighth in the constructors’ standings in the current season.
AP, FRANKFURT, GERMANY
Michael Schumacher would consider coming out of retirement if Ferrari asked the seven-time Formula One champion to drive for the injured Felipe Massa, his spokeswoman said on Tuesday.
“It’s really up to Ferrari,” spokeswoman Sabine Kehm said by telephone. “They must first decide what they want to do. And if they decide to ask Michael, they would then talk to him and he would think about it. But the decision could be just as well negative.”
Massa sustained multiple skull fractures in a crash during qualifying for Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix, and doctors said he would not race again this season.
Since retiring after the 2006 season, Schumacher has raced occasionally in a motorcycling series but he was injured in a crash in February and is not believed to have raced since.
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