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BMW confirm Sauber takeover 22 Jun 2005

Felipe Massa (BRA) Sauber Petronas C24.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, United States Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Indianapolis, USA, 18 June 2005

BMW will enter their own Formula One team in the 2006 world championship after buying a majority share in Sauber, it was announced on Wednesday. The German carmaker also wants to continue supplying engines to current partner Williams.

In a press conference at their Munich headquarters, BMW’s Motorsport Director, Dr Mario Thiessen, sat alongside team principal Peter Sauber, revealed details of the new agreement, which will come into effect at the start of January, 2006.

BMW is acquiring shares from Peter Sauber and will successively take over those held by long-time Sauber backers, Credit Suisse, by the end of 2008. Peter Sauber will retain a stake in the team and will assist BMW as an adviser, but withdraw from his operational responsibilities.

The new, and as yet unnamed, team will be run under a single BMW management structure, but from two bases - BMW’s Munich plant in Germany and Sauber’s existing base in Hinwil, Switzerland, The latter will operate as an independent Swiss company affiliated to BMW, and plans for expansion, in terms of both facilities and staff, are already in place.

"For Sauber, the partnership with BMW is an ideal solution as it supports the two goals which have always been paramount for me,” said Sauber, whose team first entered Formula One racing in 1993. “Firstly, to offer the team the possibility of improving their sporting performance, and secondly, to safeguard the site at Hinwil and the jobs of today’s 300-strong workforce.

”The involvement of six car manufacturers has resulted in significant changes to Formula One in recent years. For the private teams in particular, it has become increasingly difficult to secure solid financing which enables the achievement of sporting success as well. For some years, I have also been thinking in terms of succession planning - in the light of the very specific demands of Formula One that is no easy matter.

”The partnership with BMW guarantees continuity. For that reason, too, it represents an ideal solution, because I know it will give the workforce a very good outlook. Over more than 35 years, I have guided this company through often stormy seas, which is why it is so important for me to know that it will be in goods hands in future as well."

BMW admitted that their initial talks with Sauber had only concerned engine supply, but that negotiations quickly progressed to a more serious level. The German company stressed that their decision to buy into Sauber reflected their long-term commitment to Formula One racing.

"For BMW, Formula One is thus the right platform for demonstrating our competence as a car manufacturer,” said Professor Burkhard Goschel, BMW Board Member for Development and Purchasing. “Success in Formula One increasingly depends on the perfect interplay of all factors. That is why we have resolved to extend our involvement beyond our present role of engine partner.

“With a team managed by BMW we will, as of next year, take on responsibility for the entire package, which will include the key factors of the chassis, tyres and drivers. We do not expect instant success from the new constellation, but we are convinced that we have chosen the right path for the long term."

BMW also confirmed that Williams had been made fully aware of their plans ahead of Wednesday’s announcement. “Naturally this decision impacts on our partnership,” added Goschel. “We want to discuss the future options together with WilliamsF1 in order to find the right way forward for both sides.”

The new BMW team will be presented to the public at the beginning of 2006. In the meantime, the Germany company will be busy working out its new managerial, technical and driver line-up.