BMW Sauber To Leave Formula One At The End Of 2009
BMW have announced that their Formula One team, BMW Sauber will not be competing in F1 beyond the end of the 2009 season.
It is a bitter blow for the German/Swiss team which had seen gains through 2007 and 2008, but have suffered with a poor car in 2009.
The team were formed after BMW, who had supplied engines to Williams from 2000-2005, decided to buy out Peter Sauber’s small but successful Swiss team, Sauber based in Hinwil. They took over, and in 2006 they had an average season with Nick Heidfeld and Jacques Villeneuve at the wheel. In 2007 they were much more competitive with Robert Kubica partnering Heidfeld. In 2008, Kubica recorded the teams first victory in Canada, a circuit where a season before RK left in a medical helicopter following a horror shunt.
Dr. Norbert Reithofer, chairman of BMW said this morning: “Of course, this was a difficult decision for us. But it’s a resolute step in view of our company’s strategic realignment,” he said.
“Premium will increasingly be defined in terms of sustainability and environmental compatibility. This is an area in which we want to remain in the lead. In line with our Strategy Number ONE, we are continually reviewing all projects and initiatives to check them for future viability and sustainability. Our Formula 1 campaign is thus less a key promoter for us.
“Mario Theissen has been in charge of our motor sports program since 1999. We have scored a large number of successes in this period, including some in Formula 1 racing. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Mario Theissen and his team for this.”
There are lots of unknown’s following today’s ruling. The team is likely to be put up for sale, and could be bought by one of the teams who failed to get into F1 such as Lola or Prodrive or perhaps by a new investor looking to buy a going concern. The latter would secure jobs, but if the slot is made available then the jobs will be lost. Epsilon Euskadi has expressed interest in taking the slot of the team if they fold altogether.
Robert Kubica is a very talented and young driver, and although he stated he is keen to try his hand at rallying it is likely a big team will buy him in. Williams could be looking for a Nico Rosberg replacement, McLaren are looking for a replacement for Heikki Kovalainen or perhaps if Massa will not drive in F1 again and Alonso doesn’t have a contract with the Italian’s he could make a shock move to Ferrari. Nick Heidfeld on the other hand is far more uncertain, and at his age he might struggle to get another drive on the back of always promising good things but never really delivering.