BMW announced Wednesday that it will exit Formula 1 at the end of the year, seeking a new partner to take over its BMW-Sauber team. The automaker will not supply engines to any other teams, as it did before it took over the Swiss Sauber team in 2005.
"The BMW Group will not continue its Formula 1 campaign after the end of the 2009 season," the company said in a statement. "Resources freed up as a result are to be dedicated to the development of new drive technologies and projects in the field of sustainability. BMW will continue to be actively involved in other motor sports series."
The decision was made Tuesday during a board meeting, and comes shortly before the team was to sign a new commercial agreement that would have requiredit to stay in F1 through 2012. Speculation that some of the remaining manufacturers--Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, Renault, and Toyota--may also withdraw from the championship is running much higher following BMW's announcement.
BMW's exit is quite similar to Honda's actions at the end of 2008. The Japanese automaker exited the series in December, citing global economic conditions and business priorities. The Honda team was reborn as Brawn GP, which has been quite successful in the 2009 F1 season.
"It only took us three years to establish ourselves as a top team with the BMW Sauber F1 Team," said BMW Board of Management members Dr. Klaus Draeger. "Unfortunately, we were unable to meet expectations in the current season. Nevertheless, our ten years of Formula 1 experience have had a major impact on our development engineers. We have racing to thank for numerous technological innovations as well as the competitive spirit that drives us to develop mass-produced cars."
The current season has not gone well for BMW. So far this year,it hasscored just eight points in ten races andis eighth overall. Last Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix was the team's third race in a row without a point scored. With its complete withdrawal from the series, BMW's hopes of winning a title with its own team have been dashed.
Automotive News reports that three new teams are due to enter F1 next year, with others on standby.