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BMW announce Formula One withdrawal 29 Jul 2009

Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1.09.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, Hungarian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Budapest, Hungary, Saturday, 25 July 2009 Dr Mario Theissen (GER) BMW Sauber F1 Team Principal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Turkish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Saturday, 6 June 2009 Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1.09 makes a pit stop.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, British Grand Prix, Race, Silverstone, England, Sunday, 21 June 2009 Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1 on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, Hungarian Grand Prix, Race, Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, 26 July 2009 Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1.09.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Turkish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Saturday, 6 June 2009

BMW will end their involvement in Formula One racing at the end of the current season, it was announced on Wednesday. The move is part of what the German car maker described as a ‘landmark’ decision to restructure its motorsport activities.

The news came at a press conference held at the company’s German headquarters in Munich, attended by BMW Sauber team principal Mario Theissen, along with Dr. Norbert Reithofer, the chairman of the BMW board, and Dr. Klaus Draeger, the director for development.

BMW became Formula One entrants in 2006 after taking over the Swiss Sauber team. The company said the decision to withdraw stems from a desire to dedicate more resources to developing new, sustainable road car technologies.

“Of course, this was a difficult decision for us,” explained Reithofer. “But it’s a resolute step in view of our company's strategic realignment. 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. Our Formula One campaign is thus less a key promoter for us."

Paying tribute to Theissen’s leadership of BMW Sauber, who finished third in last year’s championship, Reithofer added: “Mario has been in charge of our motorsports program since 1999. We have scored a large number of successes in this period, including some in Formula One racing. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Mario Theissen and his team for this.”

Theissen commented: "Of course, we, the employees in Hinwil and Munich, would all have liked to continue this ambitious campaign and show that this season was just a hiccup following three successful years. But I can understand why this decision was made from a corporate perspective. We will now focus sharply on the remaining races and demonstrate our fighting spirit and put in a good result as we bid farewell to Formula One racing.”

BMW’s original Formula One involvement began in the 1980s as an engine supplier. With Brabham from 1982 to ’85, the company clinched eight Formula One victories and one world title, courtesy of Nelson Piquet in 1983. Following a final win with Benetton in 1986, BMW were absent from F1 competition until 2000 when they began supplying engines to Williams, taking 10 victories over the following five years.

In 2006 the company took over the Sauber team and enjoyed a positive first season as a fully-fledged works entry, finishing fifth in the constructors’ championship, with two podium finishes. The team went from strength to strength in 2007, occupying the ‘best of the rest’ slot behind Ferrari and McLaren. Scoring in all 17 races, BMW Sauber eventually finished second in the standings, behind Ferrari.

Last year, the team became championship contenders, with driver Robert Kubica clinching the team’s first pole position in Bahrain and then a maiden win at the Canadian Grand Prix. However, they have found the going a lot tougher this season and have scored just eight points to date.