This article discusses BMW’s participation in Formula One and the BMW Sauber racing team. See Sauber Motorsport for the independent racing team.
Since the World Drivers’ Championship was established in 1950, BMW has been involved in Formula One in a variety of capacities. Before developing the BMW M12/13 inline-four turbocharged engine in the 1980s, the business competed in sporadic races in the 1950s and 1960s (typically under Formula Two rules). The team’s chassis were powered by BMW engines from 1982 to 1987 as a consequence of an agreement between BMW and Brabham. Nelson Piquet won the 1983 title while operating a Brabham BT52-BMW during this time. ATS, Arrows, Benetton, and Ligier teams were also given the M12/13 by BMW during this time, with varying degrees of success. Brabham briefly left the sport in 1988, and BMW stopped officially supporting the engines, which were still being used by the Arrows team under the Megatron moniker. The 1989 revision of the Formula One Technical Regulations outlawed turbocharged engines, making the M12/13 obsolete.
In the late 1990s, BMW made the decision to return to Formula One and entered into an exclusive agreement with the Williams team, which was in need of a new long-term engine supplier following the departure of Renault in 1997. A new V10 engine was developed as a result of the initiative and debuted in competition in the Williams FW22 in 2000. The collaboration advanced from the midfield to contending for race victories the next year, but the desired title remained elusive due to Michael Schumacher and Ferrari’s domination in the first half of the 2000s. BMW decided to sever ways with Williams in 2005 as their relationship had deteriorated, and instead decided to purchase the rival Sauber team outright.
The BMW Sauber project, which ran from 2006 to 2009, significantly raised the Swiss former privateer team’s competitiveness. A strong third place performance in the Constructors’ Championship in 2007 followed two podium places in the inaugural season (which became second when McLaren was disqualified). Robert Kubica won the team’s lone race in 2008, the Canadian Grand Prix, and briefly held the lead in the Drivers’ Championship, but the team decided to concentrate on 2009 car development and fell back in the standings at the end of the season. Due to the F1.09 chassis’ lack of competitiveness, the 2009 season was a significant letdown. BMW decided to leave the sport, returning the team to its founder, Peter Sauber, in addition to the global financial downturn and the company’s displeasure with the constraints of the current technical standards in developing technology relevant to road cars.
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Is BMW an F1 team?
Have you ever pondered why some manufacturers, like BMW, choose not to participate in Formula One despite the sport’s rising popularity? Knowing a team’s history can often help you appreciate them more, in my experience as an F1 and BMW enthusiast. Does BMW compete in Formula One?
BMW does not participate in Formula One and does not have any immediate plans to do so. Due to a poor performance, the global financial crisis, and their desire to raise the technological requirements for their road vehicles, they discontinued their participation in F1 in 2009.
BMW has historically been one of the strongest racing competitors, despite not participating in Formula 1. Let’s look at where they started, what they think about Formula One, and why they still don’t want to compete.
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BMW is uninterested in a 2021 F1 comeback.
Since the power unit period has no bearing on their road vehicle technology, BMW has made it clear that they have no interest in returning to F1.
In 2006, BMW acquired the Sauber team, and the BMW Sauber entry went on to enjoy a successful run in the competition.
The team finished the inaugural season with two P3 finishes and finished P5 in the Constructors’ Championship.
They would earn two more podium places the next year as they finished third in the constructors’ standings, moving up to second after McLaren was disqualified.
Robert Kubica’s victory in Canada in 2008 would be BMW Sauber’s first and only victory; however, later in the season, they would shift their attention to designing the 2009 vehicle.
BMW would leave the race at the end of that year, selling the team back to founder Peter Sauber, but the F1.09 would be a significant step down.
As with many of their rival automakers, BMW is now concentrating on Formula E with the Andretti team after joining forces with them in 2018.
BMW does not care about the new Formula 1 regulations that will be implemented starting in 2021 because they believe that the F1 technology has no application to their road car technology.
The V6 turbo hybrid has little to do with what we do in (road) car production, according to BMW racing head Jens Marquardt in an interview with Auto Bild.
“From an engineering standpoint, I salute what they achieve in Formula 1, but the technology has no application on the road,” the speaker said.
Aston Martin is one automaker whose participation in Formula One has been confirmed as of 2021. Lawrence Stroll purchased a stake in the British luxury automaker, opening the door for a rebranding of his Racing Point team.
Despite the recent manufacturer entries, BMW says it is currently not interested in joining Formula 1 and is instead concentrating on its LMDh program.
F1 has seen renewed manufacturer interest since the modified engine regulations for 2026 were finalized, boosting the amount of electric power and requiring the usage of efuels.
While sibling company Porsche of the Volkswagen Group is still interested in competing in Formula One despite the cancellation of its planned cooperation with Red Bull due to a breakdown in negotiations, Audi confirmed last month that it would start producing engines for the sport starting in 2026.
Honda, which ended its works engagement last year while maintaining technical ties to Red Bull, is also rumored to be making a comeback in 2026.
BMW is the last remaining significant German manufacturer with Mercedes already on the grid, Audi coming, Porsche intrigued, and Volkswagen no longer participating in motorsport.
Being away from F1 was “not an issue for us,” according to Andreas Roos, head of BMW M Motorsport, because BMW was “certainly not interested at the moment.”
Roos, who took over for outgoing Aston Martin F1 team principal Mike Krack as BMW’s motorsport manager, said: “I think you also have to be realistic.”
“You have made a significant financial commitment in Formula 1; thus, you must continue to be extremely successful for a very long time. The vast array of initiatives we now have in motorsport makes us delighted.”
Between 2000 and 2009, BMW had their most recent manufacturer presence in Formula One, originally partnering with Williams before switching to the Sauber factory team in 2006. The BMW team won one race, the Canadian Grand Prix in 2008, before abruptly leaving Formula One at the end of 2009.
BMW made it plain that its focus is on its new LMDh program, even though it has been mentioned in relation to a prospective F1 comeback given the level of manufacturer interest recently and the change in the engine rules.
After making its IMSA debut this year, the new BMW M Hybrid V8 will move on to the World Endurance Championship starting in 2024. At that time, it will also make a comeback to compete for overall honors at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
According to Roos, “We are practically already fully into electrification and the move to electrification.” “Not just in 2026 when Formula 1 moves in this route, LMDh fits there wonderfully. From that perspective, today is the ideal time for us to do LMDh.”
The CEO of BMW M Motorsport GmbH, Frank van Meel, acknowledged the marketing potential and audience of F1 racing but insisted that BMW did not “enter motorsport exclusively for commercial purposes.”
Van Meel stated, “We want to create something for the series and grow together.”
“Because of this, LMDh is unquestionably more significant to us than Formula 1. The topic of electrification is too far away from our series M products, but it is also too far away in time.”
BMW claims they have no interest in seeing Formula 1 back.
The subject of BMW and Formula 1 resurfaces every now and then. And each time, the response is the same: BMW doesn’t believe there is a way for the in the most viewed racing competition in the world.
BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt thinks that despite a 1952 connection to Formula 1, BMW’s evolution has led it down a different road.
In his words to Auto Bild, “The V6 Turbo Hybrid is an engine that has absolutely nothing to do with what we do in serial production.” From an engineering standpoint, I must state that while I admire the work done in Formula One, the technology is irrelevant for use on the road.
The most recent BMW involvement in Formula 1 began in 2006 when they acquired the Sauber F1 team. The Bavarians finished their debut season with two P3 places and finished P5 in the Constructors’ Championship.
BMW Motorsport won two more podium positions in 2007, finishing P3 in the Constructors’ standings (P2 when McLaren was disqualified).
When Robert Kubica crossed the finish line first in Canada a year later, BMW Sauber earned their first and only victory. BMW left the Formula 1 in 2009 after selling the team to its founder Peter Sauber.
BMW’s racing efforts in this decade are mostly focused on the environmentally friendly Formula E, despite the fact that new regulations for Formula 1 are due in 2021 that are intended to make the championship more competitive and accessible.
For the time being, Formula E will host the competition amongst the top automakers in the world, with BMW, Mercedes, Audi, and Porsche vying for the championship.
Why doesn’t Audi field an F1 team?
Audi has long participated in motorsports that our customers care about, like rallying and touring cars, which helped develop the quattro, FSI, and TFSI systems that are now included in our road cars. This is the reason we rejected F1 in 1999. Instead, we made the decision to compete in the world’s biggest race. We chose Le Mans.
Why aren’t Porsche and BMW in Formula One?
One of the most well-known brands in auto racing is Porsche, and they have vehicles in several races. Additionally, they are among the most well-known automobile names outside of the racing world. It is therefore reasonable to inquire why Porsche does not have an F1 vehicle.
Porsche doesn’t own an F1 car for a number of reasons, but the primary one is that it doesn’t align with their corporate ideals because it deviates too much from their focus on road cars. They don’t have an F1 car for another major reason, but they do compete in other motorsports.
Porsche dominates the luxury and sports car markets, which deters them from prioritizing motorsport. To understand why they are no longer in Formula 1, however, it is important to consider their former involvement in the sport as well as their numerous other motorsport ventures.