The German car manufacturer BMW has announced that it will quit its participation in the Formula One racing at the end of the current season on Wednesday.
This announcement of BMW comes after the Japanese car giant Honda made into the headlines to quit the Formula One circuit last year, making it the second major team to part ways with the Formula One racing.
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. This was described as a 'landmark' decision to restructure its motorsport activities.
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."
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 involvement with the Formula One began in the 1980s as an engine supplier. With Brabham from 1982 to 1985, 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.