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BMW and Formula 1
BMW is not an automotive or racing brand you would associate most with Formula One success. Their early forays into the sport were as a works team in 1952, 53, 67, 68, 69. However they only entered the German GP race in each of those years and of the 13 cars entered in those races, they achieved only 5 finished and none higher than 10th place.
Of course BMW supplied engines to Formula 1 too. During 2 periods, 1981-88 and 2000-05, they supplied Brabham, ATS, Arrows, Benneton and Ligier, and in the second stint were the engine supplier to the Williams team who were on a downward slide from the glory days of the earlier decades.
During 15 seasons as an engine supplier, BMW powered F1 cars started 618 times and managed 19 race wins: Nelson Piquet (7), Ralf Schumacher (6), Juan Pablo Montoya (4), Riccardo Patrese (1) and Gerhard Berger (1)
The four seasons 2006-2009, the German manufacturer competed as BMW Sauber – a works team – and over the 70 races entered, the team one once with Kubica driving in Canada 2008. Kubica was paired with Nick Heidfeld that year and they managed to bring home the team 3rd in the WCC in 2008.
Following the Honda announcement to re-enter F1 from 2015, today City A.M. are reporting that Ecclestone is confident BMW will also return to Formula One. “I would be surprised if we don’t see BMW again. The amount of money they spent [last time] was not significant in the grand scheme of things. It makes sense for them to return.”
This appears at present to be purely speculative and the reasoning behind this assumption whilst logical [as we discussed last week] is far from certain. The thinking appears to be – Honda spend $1bn on F1 in a single year 2008, won nothing, sold the team to Brawn for $1 who cleaned up in 2009 with both titles.
Therefore, if Honda have the gall to show their face again in F1 after that embarrassment and expense, BMW’s mere $700m during the Sauber years is inconsequential. #BerniesLogic
Comment on your favourite BMW F1 moments and we’ll try and dig up some video footage.
UPDATE: GMT 13:14 BMW have rebuffed Ecclestone’s comments. Autosport reports BMW motorsport boss Jens Marquardt saying, “I don’t know with whom Bernie spoke. We are right on top of our current programme, namely DTM. In GT sports cars at the Nordschleife and in ALMS as well as customer sport programmes we are posting super results.
We have absolutely no intention of looking at other categories. We made a conscious decision to withdraw from Formula 1. We orientated ourselves around that which our customers recognise as being BMW. There is no reason to alter this concept. It is currently running very well.
There are always good timing points at which to enter something. For example, we chose the right moment to make our entry into DTM because new regulations were on their way. Now F1 has new engine regulations. That suits Honda and has been noted. However, we have not reacted further.”
So much for #BerniesLogic
Ecclestone stays for now
The Sunday Times reports that the CVC chiefs met in Geneva over the weekend to discuss the ramifications of the charges being brought against Ecclestone in Munich. The decision at present is with the judiciary as to whether proceed to a full trial.
Mr. E thinks they will do this. “I hope they don’t but I think they will, then we will see what happens. That doesn’t mean to say there will be a trial.” Ecclestone is hoping to negotiate a settlement with the German courts though this may not be so easy because plea bargaining doesn’t exist in German law as the defendant is not required to enter a plea.
Apparently the ranks are firm within the commercial rights holder as “Everyone voted to support me staying on and running the business,” said Ecclestone. “The board agrees I should stay unless I’m convicted.”
One would have to believe this decision is not based upon whether Ecclestone is convicted or not, but rather whether he can do a deal with the German courts or whether he finds himself tied up for weeks in Munich and unable to manage the commercial aspects of the F1 business.
Further, it is most definitely in CVC’s interests to defend Mr. E to the hilt. Were the criminal activities proven – their contract for the FIA Formula One commercial rights may be declared void. Then they’ll be no float.
Let’s not forget there is no Concorde Agreement with the FIA and they want a lot more money than CVC/Bernie have been offering.
Paddy Lowe’s garden is finished
Put out to grass by McLaren following Toto Wolff’s leaked revelations he had tapped up their Technical Director, Paddy Lowe is now set to join the Brackley based outfit on June 3rd before the Candaian GP.
In a press release paddy said, “I am excited to become part of a highly talented and capable technical organisation,” commented Lowe. “The team has already produced probably the fastest car of the 2013 season while the technical challenges of the new regulations for 2014 will give us the opportunity to maximise the synergies available to a works manufacturer. That is a challenge I am relishing.
I have worked closely with Mercedes-Benz for almost 20 years and deeply admire the company’s phenomenal commitment to Formula One. I look forward to much success together in the years ahead.”
Mercedes say, “Paddy will strengthen Mercedes AMG Petronas in the role of Executive Director (Technical) and will work closely with Team Principal, Ross Brawn; Executive Director (Business), Toto Wolff (CEO); and the team’s senior technical management. As Team Principal, Ross Brawn will retain overall responsibility for technical and sporting matters.”
Presumably the absence of a specific description of Niki’s role means he will continue to stick his nose in wherever he see’s fit.
Ross Brawn added: “I am delighted to welcome Paddy to the team and to begin working together. He has an excellent record of success in the sport and would be an asset to any of our rivals in the pit lane. It is no secret that every team is facing a significant balancing act between this year and next. But it is perhaps less obvious that we will also see major changes for the 2015 and 2016 seasons, as development progresses with the new generation of car design and Power Unit.
To deliver in these circumstances, a successful team needs strength in depth. Paddy’s arrival will further strengthen our organisation and puts us in a strong position for the future.”
One can only assume this revised earlier than expected start date is because Paddy proved to be more than adept at gardening than first thought and he has completed his landscaping assignment.
Further, the powers that be at McLaren clearly believe following Paddy’s input into the MP4-28, he may in fact do more damage than good when he arrives at Mercedes – thus they’ve allowed him to be released early.
I think he needs to do a bit of admin. Here is Paddy’s twitter account
Di Resta says Alonso ‘the best’
In what must be viewed as the most thinly of veiled snubs, Paul Di Resta dismisses Vettel’s triple title winning achievements telling Speed Week that Alonso, “He should have been champion in 2012. For me he was the best driver by far”. On this years contenders Paul believes the winner will be, “Fernando Alonso. Although he had his problems in Malaysia and Bahrain, Ferrari look very strong”.
Paul is a year older than Sebastian and they raced together in the 2006 Formula 3 Euro Series season. They both raced for ASM a French-based team that had dominated the Euro Series for the last three seasons with three Drivers’ and Teams’ Championship titles in succession.
Of the 10 poles contested, Di Resta won 5 to Vettel’s 1 and in the 20 rounds of racing the Scott won 5 to the German’s 4 and finished with 86 points, 11 clear of Sebastian Vettel. Lewis had romped this championship the year before.
When Vettel joined F1 ahead of Paul, he commented, “He shouldn’t have gotten there before me.”
During 2006 there were 4 other drivers who eventually made it into F1 – Sebastian Buemi, Kamui Kobayashi, Giedo Van de Garde and Romain Grosjean.
Paul must be disappointed to see the McLaren-Honda deal come to fruition because his chance of getting a top drive that is Mercedes powered has now been halved. He surely will struggle to be considered as a replacement for either Hamilton or Rosberg and maybe Paul now see’s his best opportunity to be Felipe Massa’s Ferrari at the end of this year.
As was stated firmly on TJ13 last week, the sporting regulations would only allow tyre constructions and compounds to be changed if all the teams agreed, or for safety reasons. This is the case regardless of whether there is a Concorde agreement in place or not.
Pirelli appear to have backtracked from their first position stating they wanted to change the tyres to reduce the number of stops. Paul Hembery tells Reuters today, the aim was “to make the changes that you have to make with minimal disturbance to the sporting equity. What we’re trying to do is find the mid ground and that’s where we’re at. The changes required would appear less than first envisaged.”
Lotus wheeled out Eric to complain about the proposed changes and he stated they had worked specifically to the specification to develop the E21 chassis. Ferrari were more threatening, they pulled a classic Scicilian move by sending Mr. Hembery a message from a horses head.
Paul recognises that, “Some teams have worked in a certain way to maximise the tyre and chassis package and they don’t want that to be lost by radical change. We’re trying to find something that is sportingly equitable amongst the vast majority that allows us to rid ourselves of the tread (problem). We’re hopeful we can do that without making such a change that would radically alter the work of any team so far.”
TJ13 predicted it would take a shift in Pirelli’s position for any change to be legitimate. Hembery is now saying changes will be made to “rid ourselves of the tread (problem)”. Previously the ‘tread problem’ was in fact a newer and safer construction method which enabled the tyre to deflate more safely and slowly.
It is not inconceivable having fought back successfully against significant change being made to the 2013 tyres, certain teams could push even further and demand no change at all. The reason being that Pirelli’s position was that the ‘delaminating’ tread was in fact perfectly safe.
While Felipe Massa suffered punctures twice in Bahrain, Fernando Alonso benefited from the tyre slowly deflating which allowed him to pit without incident for a final set of tyres on the way to his win last week in Barcelona.
Austrian broadcaster ORF considers dropping F1
It appears there has been a change in legislation in Austria and the free to air public broadcaster ORF is losing tax exemptions of some 30m Euros. This is forcing them to consider their programme scheduling beyond 2014 and F1 as a big cost number is in the frame.
Clearly the organisation will have to find substantial savings, but this kind of talk in Austria should be taboo.
Tweet of the day
@grandprixdiary “Confirmed. José Mourinho will leave Real Madrid. Expected to start work with Mercedes AMG F1 on Monday”.