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Old 02-10-2011, 01:19 PM
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tim330i tim330i is online now
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BMW set for 2013 F1 return?

BMW's withdrawal from Formula One at the end of 2009 was a shock for all concerned. The company felt that in light of declining sales on the back of the credit crunch, it could no longer justify the massive financial investment the sport required. The global exposure provided by participating in F1 simply was no longer enough as BMW wanted to be involved in a motorsport category that would enable it to develop road car relevant technologies.

However, the introduction of a resource restriction agreement (RRA) along with new technical regulations set for 2013 is going to eradicate these problems, so did BMW act prematurely?

The 2013 technical regulations
The new regulations set to be introduced into Formula One in 2013 are far more environmentally oriented. This is becoming an increasingly important competitive advantage for car manufacturers on the back of rising fuel prices and the fact that an increasing number of car insurance firms are taking into account environmental impact when calculating premiums for customers.

One of the primary changes brought about by these changes are the downsizing of engines from the current 2.4 litre eight cylinder engines to 1.6 litre four cylinder turbo power plants. This is in line with movements within the car industry where many car manufacturers are focusing their efforts on small capacity turbo engines due to the potential fuel saving possible with this type of motor. Renault have corroborated this by claiming that 75% of their road car engines will be small capacity turbo engines similar to those used in F1 by 2015, which is why the French firm have been enthusiastic about the new rules.

The biggest change brought about by the new rules is the increase in capacity of the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) device from the current 60kw per lap to 120kw. This should mean that the KERS device alone will account for up to 120bhp which is more than your average road car gets from its engine alone. KERS will therefore have a much greater impact on lap times, forcing teams into running a KERS device if they wish to be competitive. This is again applicable to road car developments given the recent surge in popularity of hybrid technologies, with BMW having been one of the primary movers in this market. The end result of these changes is that F1 technologies should once again be applicable to road cars, with the sports engineers having been bogged down in recent years with aerodynamic refinement which is of limited benefit to normal road users.

The RRA
The Resource Restriction Agreement (RRA) was agreed upon by teams half way through the 2009 season. This will result in all the teams reducing their expenditure until they are operating within a $90 million budget by the end of the 2012 season. This is a massive step forward for the sport which has been plagued by escalating costs over the past two decades. The sports governing body (FIA) was instrumental in the adoption of the RRA, pushing the teams to agree to the changes in order to avoid a mass exodus of the sport by commercial partners who could simply no longer afford to supplement the teams racing activities.

This was not sufficient by itself to convince BMW to remain in the sport past the 2009 season. Unlike Honda and Toyota, BMW's primary reason for withdrawal was the sports lack of relevance to road car technologies. It is far more likely that BMW would have remained if the FIA had instead announced the 2013 technical regulations. This viewpoint was recently supported by former BMW Sporting Director Gerhard Berger who commented that the company should have "persevered" with their F1 team.

The return of Gerhard Berger?
In a recent interview, Berger also confirmed that he had no intention of returning to team ownership himself due to the huge costs necessary. Berger bought 49% of Toro Rosso team in 2006 and ran it in partnership with Red Bull boss Dietrich Mate*****z. This proved to be a successful venture and the team scored their maiden victory at the 2008 Italian grand prix with then rising star Sebastian Vettel. However, almost all of Toro Rosso's costs were covered by Red Bull and this is perhaps a coded message from Berger that he would only consider a return to team ownership under a similar arrangement.

The reason behind Berger quitting Toro Rosso at the end of 2008 was that he felt that there was nothing more he could achieve with the team due to the fact that it was suppose to be playing a supporting role to its sister Red Bull Racing squad. A team run with BMW funding would not be limited in the same manner as Toro Rosso, with part of BMW's withdrawal from the sport being decided upon on account of their poor performances in 2009 when they should have been challenging for both championship on the back of a strong 2008. Winning is all for both BMW and Berger.

The possible solutions
If BMW decide to return to F1 it would be likely to do it by buy an existing team as setting up a new operation from scratch would simply take too long to become successful. This was proven by the difficulties the new teams experienced when they entered the sport in 2010. Teams that could possibly be susceptible to a BMW takeover are:
Sauber - Peter Sauber reluctantly bought the team back from BMW at the end of 2009 in order to avoid the closure of the team carrying his name. However, Sauber has made it clear that he would ideally like to sell the team before his 70th birthday in 2013. Ironically, the company responsible for his reluctant return could this time turn out to be his savior due to the first class facilities BMW helped build up in the factory prior to the team's sale which would make them an attractive proposition to anyone looking to start their own F1 team.

Williams - Previous BMW collaboration with Williams was relatively successful as they achieved nine victories. However, championship success was elusive and BMW decided to buy Sauber after Frank Williams refused to sell up. Williams is alleged to be struggling financially at the moment and Frank Williams is looking into the possibility of putting the team onto the stock market. Could BMW prove a savior by offering to buy the team again?

Toro Rosso - Berger's old team is believed to be for sale as it is now surplus to Red Bull's requirements. As it is legally no longer possible for the team to use the same chassis as Red Bull, it is costing far more to run than had been initially intended. Toro Rosso has been building up its own technical department in recent years but has underwhelming design facilities.

The most likely option if BMW do decide to come back is for them to buy into the Sauber team once more. Peter Sauber is keen to sell up and giving the team back to BMW would be the perfect solution as long as the German manufacturer's ambitions are long term. Williams is unlikely to sell for the same reason why BMW were unable to buy them back in 2005, in that Frank Williams wants to maintain the teams very British brand identity and name which he created back in the 1970s. Meanwhile Toro Rosso's facilities are woefully inadequate when compared to those at Sauber's Hinwil Factory. Stranger things have happened in the past; for instance, who would have guessed in 2008 that the Honda F1 team would be called Mercedes GP two years later?

Last edited by tim330i; 09-17-2013 at 08:31 AM.
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Old 02-11-2011, 04:28 AM
Patrick Patrick is offline
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Source?
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Old 02-11-2011, 09:06 AM
dpritchett dpritchett is offline
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I'd be interested in a source too. BMW seems to be moving in other directions, no factory team in the WTCC this year, but starting a factory-sponsored DTM team.
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Old 02-11-2011, 09:24 AM
Patrick Patrick is offline
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The 2013 engine regulations are far from being settled (and there will be some huge disagreements until the issue is resolved). SF is not ever going to agree with the FIA on this, which is actually a good thing.

KERS? Well, let's see how that goes this season before they start talking about the 120kW system.

The next Concorde Agreement is not even close to being completed. Money, money, money and Ecclestone, you know.

Before Dr Theissen quit, he explicitly said that BMW was NOT going back to Formula One. Rather, concentrating on the Mini Clubman project in WRC, and getting back to DTM.

And last but not least, the decision by BMW to quit Formula One was a complete knee-jerk, over-reaction. That said, not surprising considering who (Theissen) was running the show.

Stay away from F1, and if you want go racing, try that American, turn left driving instead.
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Old 02-12-2011, 06:25 PM
dpritchett dpritchett is offline
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I agree with the over-reaction completely, but I think Dr. Mario was caught as completely off-guard as anyone ... corporate types made the decision, not BMW Motorsports.
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Old 02-16-2011, 08:19 AM
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Right.

There is a source for this copy and paste thread, but the OP isn't going to give it up.

Oh well.
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