BMW Sauber confirmed on Wednesday that they will pull out of Formula One at the end of what has been a disastrous season for the German car manufacturer.
“The BMW Group will not continue its Formula One campaign after the end of the 2009 season,” BMW chairman Norbert Reithofer said.
“Of course, this was a difficult decision for us, but it’s a resolute step in view of our company’s strategic realignment,” he said.
“Premium will be increasingly defined in terms of sustainability and environmental compatibility. This is an area in which we want to remain in the lead.
“We are continually reviewing all projects and initiatives to check them for future viability and sustainability.
“Our Formula One campaign is thus less a key promoter for us.” BMW have had a poor campaign with drivers Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica giving the team just eight points this season from ten Grand Prix to leave them eighth in the nine-team constructors’ championship.
BMW arrived in Formula One in 2000 and in 2005 took over the Swiss team Sauber, to become the BMW Sauber stable which now employs 730 people. Their only Grand Prix win as BMW Sauber came when Kubica won in Canada in 2008, while he also achieved the team’s only pole position in Bahrain in 2008.
The team finished third last season behind Ferrari and McLaren-Mercedes. The announcement makes the German car group the second major manufacturer to pull out of the sport following Honda’s withdrawal in December.
And in a statement released by the FIA, motor racing’s world governing body said they hoped the sport has seen the last departure of a major manufacturer. “The FIA regrets the announcement of BMW’s intended withdrawal from Formula One but is not surprised by it,” the statement read.
“It has been clear for some time that motor sport cannot ignore the world economic crisis. “Car manufacturers cannot be expected to continue to pour large sums of money into Formula One when their survival depends on redundancies, plant closures and the support of the taxpayer. “This is why the FIA prepared regulations to reduce costs drastically. “These measures were needed to alleviate the pressure on manufacturers following Honda’s withdrawal, but also to make it possible for new teams to enter.
“Nevertheless, as a result of a sustained cost-cutting campaign by the FIA, new measures are in the process of being agreed which should make it easier for new teams to enter and enable existing ones to participate on much-reduced budgets. “Hopefully it will be enough to prevent further withdrawals and provide a solid foundation for Formula One.”
Meanwhile, BMW’s rival German manufacturer Mercedes confirmed their commitment to the sport. “We regret the withdrawal of BMW from Formula One. This decision will not have the slightest influence on our commitment to Formula One,” a spokesman said.