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FIA reacts to BMW withdrawal
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FIA reacts to BMW withdrawal
Posted By: James Allen  |  29 Jul 2009   |  11:41 am GMT  |  45 comments

The FIA has issued a statement reacting to the BMW withdrawal from F1.

As you can imagine they feel more than a little vindicated by this, as they have been warning for some time that the sport had become ‘unsustainable’ due to high costs and needed to be protected from manufacturers who come and go when it suits them.

Ironically the costs are now set to come down dramatically, so arguably they are not the main driver behind this withdrawal.

FIA president Max Mosley had quite a good relationship with some members of the BMW board and always said that he felt their participation in future could not be guaranteed despite what team principal Mario Theissen might have said.

Here’s the FIA statement in full:

“The FIA regrets the announcement of BMW’s intended withdrawal from Formula One but is not surprised by it.

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.

Had these regulations not been so strongly opposed by a number of team principals, the withdrawal of BMW and further such announcements in the future might have been avoided.

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.

It is no secret that these measures do not go as far as the FIA would have liked but a compromise was needed in the interests of harmony in the sport. Hopefully it will be enough to prevent further withdrawals and provide a solid foundation for Formula One.

As the guardian of the sport, the FIA is committed to ensuring that Formula One remains financially sustainable for all competing teams and it will always act to ensure that this remains the case. “

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45 Comments
  1. It’s not like the FIA to blow its own horn is it? It’s good that there will be cost cutting but I don’t think it is enough to save Renault or Toyota.

    FOTA was the team principals, not the boards of the car companies. That is an important point to remember.

  2. TheNewNo2 says:

    What a surprise, the FIA takes the opportunity to crow as one of the FOTA members withdraws.

  3. Phil says:

    Max jumps up and says, “I told you so! Look at me! Look at me!”

    Well, maybe if we ignore him he’ll go away again.

    1. nobody was ever against cost-cutting. It was the mechanism thereof that was the problem.

    2. The manufacturers were actually the main cause of budget inflation, not the victims.

  4. adam Baldock-Apps says:

    “the withdrawal of BMW and further such announcements in the future might have been avoided.”

    Does that mean Renault are as good as gone?

    If Sauber “does a brawn” would BMW supply the engine? As from memory Mercedes are already supplying too many teams, or would they be forced down the cossy route?

  5. jon says:

    no matter what spin the FIA or indeed BMW wish to place on this news I would offer that this has more to do with the lack of performance and success and the economic situation has purely served this company and possibly others with an acceptable public reason or justification to withdraw from a very high profile failure.

    1. Cliff says:

      I’d like to say 2you got it wrong” Jon, but unfortunately I can’t.

      We see it all the time, companies blaming anything but their own failings for the position in which they find themselves.

      BMW appear to have a greater presence in MOTO GP than F1!

    2. Jason says:

      Completely agree. This was not brought about by the cost situation. Look that the BMW statement – it talks all about not meeting goals (i.e. regular podium finishes and championships)

      If BMW were on the podium regularly this year, they would see a light at the end of the performance tunnel and would keep pushing for that win. Seeing as they haven’t barely scored any points, there really isn’t a reason to stick around. It might take them another 3 or 4 years to develop this car into something championship worthy, just like it did with their last spec machine.

      I blame it on the drastic regulation changes from last year and BMW’s failure to produce a competitive car rather than the economic and cost cutting situations of F1.

  6. Jim says:

    Good riddance to BMW I say and I can only hope that Toyota and Renault follow them. As long as Ferrari, Mclaren and Williams stay, then the core DNA of F1 is still valid. The teams exist to race. ferrari may be a manufacturer, but it manufactures to support it’s racing, it was how Enzo set it up. Fresh ‘race for the sake of racing’ teams on the grid can only be a good thing.

    Also, a message to Max. You were the one who brought the manufacturers in, in the first place! The whole reason for the stupid KERS debacle, was that you brought it in to give the manufacturers some R&D relevant to their road cars, hasn’t that been a great sucess!

    BTW – I went to Hungary this weekend and the general admission hasn’t changed, unlike the very poor views in Germany. Still way to expensive though…

  7. Simon says:

    If I were a German car company associated with F1 over the past couple of years I’d want out too. I’m surprised Mercedes are still there.

  8. queeg501 says:

    Sounds like Na na, na na na we told you so from the FIA to me :-)

    1. Pat says:

      Well he did didn’t he ?

    2. doomguy says:

      but … BMW is saying they’re leaving BECAUSE of the cost-cutting measures.

      so the FIA can’t read, apparently.

      1. artorwar says:

        Dosnt matter what BMW say, we know they’re leaving because they failed in spectacular fashion to be an F1 team?

  9. Ambient Sheep says:

    Unfortunately for the FIA’s argument, the BMW statement by Draeger says that the reason for their withdrawal is PRECISELY the budget-cap/cost-reduction and the lack of technical innovation that that will force:

    https://www.press.bmw-motorsport.com/pressclub/p/pcmot/pressDetail.html?outputChannelID=2&id=T0037938EN&nodeId=214&outputChannelId=2

    “We…transferred Formula One technology to series production more resolutely than any other manufacturer…

    However, our planned cost reduction will cause component standardization and homologation to increase, and thus will set certain limits on our engineers’ creativity. This doesn’t necessary correspond to our belief of what’s ideal…

    The main reason for this decision was not our current performance in Formula One racing or the general economic situation.”

    1. Ambient Sheep says:

      Of course, it’s since been pointed out to me elsewhere that “component standardization and homologation” was a FOTA thing – under Max’s rules they would have had free rein under the budget-cap to be as innovative as you like.

      But on the other hand, one could still argue that if Max hadn’t been pressuring them for any cost-reduction at all, then it wouldn’t have been an issue. FOTA only came up with their own scheme because they couldn’t bear the idea of the FIA looking over their accounts to enforce a hard budget-cap.

  10. Gord says:

    Pardon my ignorance, but has BMW received taxpayer money as bailout money from the German Government or something like that ?

    It was mentioned by the FIA.

  11. Snail says:

    Here is an additional statement I’d like the FIA to release:

    “The FIA regrets the announcement of Nurburgring’s intended withdrawal from Formula One but is not surprised by it.

    It has been clear for some time that motor sport cannot ignore the world economic crisis.

    Race promoters and race fans cannot be expected to continue to pour large sums of money into Formula One when their survival depends on the support of the regional governments.

    This is why the FIA prepared regulations to reduce costs drastically. These measures were needed to alleviate the pressure on race promoters following the withdrawal of several race tracks in recent years but also to make it possible for existing tracks to continue to host races.

    If more realistic hosting fees had been charged the withdrawal of Nurburgring and previous such announcements might have been avoided.

    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 race promoters to host races and for fans to attend races.

    It is no secret that these measures do not go as far as the FIA would have liked but a compromise was needed in the interests of harmony in the sport. Hopefully it will be enough to make racing more affordable and to get real fans to the races and provide a solid foundation for Formula One.

    As the guardian of the sport, the FIA is committed to ensuring that Formula One remains financially sustainable for all competing teams and it will always act to ensure that this remains the case. “

    1. Martinco5 says:

      Are you optimistic about the release of this statement Snail?

      1. Snail says:

        :-) Not really.

        But until promoting a race is a viable proposition great race venues will be in danger and the fans will continue to be fleeced. Going to a race *should* be value for money. From what I can see it is anything but.

        And the promoter should be able to make a reasonable profit for doing that rather than relying on the local government to pay for the event (which is Bernie’s position).

        It should be win-win-win for all parties but at present its lose-lose/subsidy-win.

  12. alex says:

    How predictable that Max’s twisted pan-galactic ego should try to paint this as a vindication of his foresight, when in fact it is a damning indicment of the farcical way he has run this Sport, via his vanity organisation the FIA.

    Renault’s absurd Valencia ban is another shining gemstone of stupidity blinded by egocentric megalomania in his already very crowded crown.

    Max’s stooges at Manor and his surrendered Williams teams are already threatening to stymie the Concord agreement unless they stick to [mod] the original ‘master plan’ of a 40M budget cap…. so rather than negotiating what people want, Max, as usual, tries underhand politicking to achieve his aims, then crows about his own genius.

    No wonder BMW want out, you cannot blame them, you can however, blame Mad Max.

  13. Chris says:

    I’m getting so fed up with Formula 1.

    I’m thinking about withdrawing MY support for it, and taking up less frustrating and beleaguring activities with my Sundays.

    Regards,

    Fed Up.

    1. artorwar says:

      Mate, I couldn’t agree less. Who cares, suck the soap opera up and enjoy the on-track. Last weekend was good fun, with the exception of the mind bending bad luck of Massa. *Get Well Soon*
      I love this sport and they could never ruin my fascination.

      1. Chris says:

        Art.

        Aren’t you fed up with the constant direction change (pun intended) of the rules? Refuelling? Front wings the size of the former Soviet Union? Changing the points system so Schumacher can’t win championships? Change the tyres so that nobody can drive on them? Traction control? No traction control?

        It was even mooted at one stage to wet the track before every race!

        These cars should be thoroughbreds, and the technology should be allowed to develop them so that they are at the mercy of the driver, not the other way around.

        The evident bias against Mclaren and skewed favouritism towards Ferrari is as palpable as it is ridiculous (if Todt gets in – that’s the last straw for me!).

        If Renault and Toyota go – we are not left with a spectacular grid of engineering masterpieces.

        I love the sport too, don’t get me wrong. I’ve not missed a race in 14 years. But it seems every year – I have to learn a new sport. It’s confusing and irritating for the fans.

        Don’t get me started on the politics…!

        (Get well soon, Massa).

        Chris.

  14. F1 Kitteh says:

    Would the real FOTA supporters please stand up? I guess to them it sounds like the FIA is rubbing it in, but if it wasnt clearly obvious to them that the economics of the sport was on a path to self implosion then they need to have a reality check, or, buy some subprime mortgage securities from me. Make no mistake, this is very sad and unfair for many, not least the people working at BMW. Also, would teams like RBR and Brawn stood by the FOTA Schomta had they known or even felt this was a distinct possiblity? Everything has a bright side though and I think this is a process of adjustment that F1 will need to go through to secure its future. I think that the process is far from over, but a few years down the line the sport will likely be more vibrant than ever. The other winner surely must be Williams, who are increasing looking capable and competitive on tight budgets that the others will surely come down to now, and oh.. the decision not to sell out to BMW is looking pretty smart these days. Could Peter Sauber actually turn this into a happy situation by buying back at the bottom (probably for free and then some ….) after selling out at the top? or .. What about the other new entries that were denied?

  15. Peter Freeman says:

    James the simple fact is that F1 makes plenty of money, just not enough is given to the teams. The FIA are primarily responsible for this.

    Secondly BMW should have stayed with Williams, they are now paying the price for stupidity quite frankly. F1 is about experience, you can’t just pitch up and compete. Note that as soon as a NEW car had to be made BMW could not do it, while Williams have been competitive all season.

  16. Adrian says:

    Well, we’ve had a statement from Toyota reaffirming their commitment, but to my ears Renault (as the other manufacturer regularly rumoured to be looking for an out) are deafening in their silence. Couple that to Flavio’s non-commital response to Martin Brundle’s question on the grid-walk on Saturday and I get the feeling that we may soon be getting similar news from Renault…perhaps the timing being forced by the need to sign the new Concorde Agreement.

  17. Harveyeight says:

    Did Mosley/FiA read the BMW press release? BMW made their reasons quite clear. Indeed, if Mosley/FiA had allowed the FOTA cost-cutting measures at the beginning of the season BMW might still have felt able to continue.

    It has been mentioned often enough in the past that cost cutting measures could have begun with the dumping of the ridiculous imposition of KERS. If you wanted to pen regulations designed to hurt the manufacturers I don’t think you could have done any better than KERS apart from, of course, two tier racing.

    As soon as I read that BMW were pulling out, and I realised it wasn’t someone on a motorway complaining, I thought that Mosley/FiA would come out and, against all good sense, fact and logic, say ‘If you’d done it my way.’

    I’d like to see Sauber back but what you have to say is that running a team from Germany has always been an uphill struggle. One can hope for Prodrive I suppose.

    Honda’s pullout was progressive and responsible, doing more than was necessary. Let’s hope BMW follow their example.

    What has precipitated this is probably the new Concord Agreement. It would explain the delay in signing.

  18. adrian says:

    Mosley may crow, but I’m sure that it’s as much because of what F1 has become as lack of funds that has led BMW to give up.

    As for Honda, BMW’s big thing was making very special engines but the engine freeze has put that out of the window. Their engines, if I remember rightly, revved higher than anybody’s with the exception of Cosworth, but that has also gone out of the window with the rev-limit.

    The regulation changes this year, especially the double diffuser mix-up, have dumped BMW to the back of the grid. It’s not clear at the moment what regulations will apply next year. KERS was also a disaster for BMW.

    BMW’s big asset was the state of the art wind-tunnel, but now it can only turn that on a few times a year.

    BMW’s other big asset was that it could afford to throw money at development in order to get to the front of the grid – although they were financially prudent, their pockets were nevertheless deep.

    Meanwhile Mercedes, BMW’s arch-rival, is getting all the plaudits for churning out what should be the same engine as they were making in 2007.

    As for Honda, a series where engine development was allowed and regulations were stable, and money could be spent would be an attractive proposition. But that is not the FIA F1 to be. I’d bet my bottom dollar that if the FOTA breakaway series had gone ahead, BMW would still be there.

    I think there also some real personal needle between BMW, Bernie and Max with Bernie and Max’s recent performances not being the sort of thing that BMW is comfortable associating itself with.

  19. Mon Pen says:

    Typical ridiculous piece of spin from the FIA. Blaming FOTA for everything under the sun. Don’t they realise anyone with half a brain can see through their nonsense?

  20. Michael C says:

    Let’s see if Sauber BMW can (are allowed to) do a better job than BMW Sauber

  21. knoxploration says:

    Max would like us to see this as somehow vindicating the disgusting spectacle of the egos that we have been forced to watch for the last several months. Sorry Max, but no – you’re not going to persuade me of that. In fact, I would go so far as to say that you are largely responsible for BMW’s exit from the sport.

    For one thing Max, you were the driver behind this year’s rule changes, which have brought colossal wasting of money. How much has been spent on KERS systems that are mostly going completely unused, on moveable aero that has essentially added nothing to the sport from the fans’ perspective, and on having to completely redesign everybody’s aero packages from scratch without there being one iota more overtaking?

    The rule changes brought not only waste, but they brought an artificial randomizing effect to the grid. I don’t think anybody believes that Brawn / Honda and Red Bull would be leading the championship this year were it not for the timing of the rule change. Ferrari, McLaren and BMW all stumbled badly – but had this years cars merely been an evolution rather than a revolution they’d likely have gotten away with having taken their eye off the ball briefly.

    Add in the absolutely horrific governance from yourself and the FIA lately, Max, and is it really any surprise BMW are quitting? Not only has BMW been associated with a steady stream of negative news regarding its own racing efforts, but the entire sport has been largely dominated for months by a steady stream of negative news regarding the bickering caused by your refusal to listen to the united agreement of every single team.

    So no, Max. You are not vindicated. You are in fact largely responsible for BMW’s exit and you’ve done huge damage to the reputation and status of the sport. The day you leave for good will be a day on which I rejoice – if you’ve actually left anything worth salvaging by that point.

  22. GP says:

    Mosley is so predictable. Maybe if he was doing his job as guardian of the sport F1 would be in North America and in Europe instead of places where nobody is interested.
    Racing at proper venues might have compelled BMW to stay. However, if, as you wrote James, the BMW board is strictly focussed on results then costs are not the reason for leaving anyway. So again, Mosley is full of it.

  23. Sven says:

    Of course the FIA will jump on the chance to claim they where right all along that F1 is to expensive. But BMW quitting is not about the spending levels but rather in fact due to the reduced spending. With the rules as present there is wery little engineering challange and F1 is more becoming a black art. The black art of making the tyres work. Ad to this the prospect of even less races in the big car markets, the general governance of FIA and the constant favouring of Ferrari. We have seen only to well what a team seriously being a challange to Ferrari has to endure. Front tyre with and mass dampers for Renault and the spygate affair for McLaren or the banning of beryllium in engines to curtail the advantge of the Mercedes engine are just a few examples.
    AS BMW also pointed out they are a premium brand and premium in the future is more about enviromental performance than ultimate performance.

  24. Kevin M says:

    Are both BMW drivers contracted beyond 2009?

  25. Fernando Garza Galindo says:

    Max is the typical politician, he is crying because of the present state of F1

    My question is, how did it get there? who was in charge?
    Max of course, led by Bernie, so why is he surprised?

    Sky high charges for TV coverage, sky high charges to tracks, sky high prices to fans, little money to the teams, and now he complains about the teams budgets

    It is like becoming a green environment crusader after chopping down most of the trees in the forest yourself

  26. Jamin says:

    Yup, I’m sure it had nothing to do with them doing their mobile-chicane immitation this year. Kubica should try and get out of his contract and drive for Ferrari for rest of year is Massa’s place.

  27. Damn the FIA for taking advantage of this situation to thump their chests, although we should have predicted them to do so. There was a binding contractual agreement in place to cut costs, so BMW’s departure has nothing to do with future costs. The FIA’s argument is complete rubbish, and they should be ashamed of themselves for this ridiculous press release that could reignite tensions with the teams.

  28. Tim Cooper Duckworth says:

    Today the Los Angeles times compared BMW’s F1 Team to Sarah Palin (a joke of a US politician that recently quit as Gov of Alaska).

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/uptospeed/2009/07/quitters-bmw-now-the-sarah-palin-of-f1-and-the-future-of-kers.html

    BMW quits Formula 1. It is now the Sarah Palin of F1 and the future of KERS

    James – can’t wait to read your take on Schumi’s return.

  29. jw1980 says:

    It’s easy to criticise Max. However, he was largely instrumental in getting three new teams in to the sport. Thanks to him he we should have a grid of at least 20 cars next season and hopefully 26.
    Regardless of what has happened BMW have pulled out of F1 because of poor performance. A team that has scored a second and a positon 8 this season is hardly setting the world on fire. Certainly if Force India or STR were leaving with credentials like that no one would say that they would be missed.
    BMW have done a huge disservice to F1. Negotiations have taken place with the view that all manufacturers will remain in the sport. However, as has often been proved in the past what a team may be thinking and what the board are thinking can be two entirely different things. Max is right when he said that there was an inevitability about manufacturers leaving. It has always happened.
    Lets hope that the Sauber situation can be resolved quickly (however look at what happened to temporary workers at the Mini factory earlier this year to see how BMW can treat its employees). BMW does though owe it to F1 and its fans to do a “Brawn” as James suggests. If Sauber cannot make it then Epsilon are interested in joing F1 next year but time must be running out. Decisions need to be made quickly.
    I have been following F1 since 1980 and may be I am old fashioned but its good racing that excites me not technical innovation because technical innovation usually leads to dominance and boring racing (look at Mansell in 1992 and he was hardly a boring driver).
    To put things into perspective what are the meida more interested in now? BMW leaving or Michael Schumacher returning? It’s the latter because drivers are the most important part of the sport….

    1. TheNewNo2 says:

      For me, jw, F1 is about the technical aspect. If I wanted to watch lots of overtaking in identical cars, I’d watch F3. What I want is a grid of unique cars, driven by the best drivers, fighting it out. If that means someone is dominant, so be it, it’s worth it.

      Now, BMW I’m surprised are pulling out. Yes they’ve had bad results, but as anyone inside F1 knows, things change, and next year could be much better. But boards want instant results, and don’t bother to learn about the sports they compete in.

      1. jw1980 says:

        TheNewNo2,

        it’s interesting hear your viewpoint. I disagree. Whilst some people have interest in the technical aspects I am sure that this is a minority view.
        Look at the increased popularity of F1 in Spain. This has everything to do with Fernando Alonso and nothing to do with technical excellence.
        Did James Allen not described commentating on the Schumacher years of domination as “like pushing water uphill.”?

    2. Harveyeight says:

      Well I’ve got to say that I too think it is easy to criticise Mosley.

      I think your comment that the popularity of F1 in Spain being down to Alonso is quite correct but leasds to the question as to whether these new fans will stay once Alonso’s dominance ends. And, for an answer, we could look to the 30% of tickets sold for Valencia (pre Schumacher’s announcement of course). If you look at the ticket sales for Silverstone you will see a significant difference. Even during the years of water pushing, despite there being no British pretender, the – very expensive – stands were full. And that’s because they were F1 fans first and partial second.

      I’ve stood at Club during qually and seen the same fans cheering excellent laps from different drivers and different cars. Once Mansell, in the naturally aspirated Williams-Judd against the turbos, put in a blinder, gaining second slot at that time, and almost the whole crowd cheered (the few who didn’t were Ferrari fans who were later booed). Yet the majority were neither Mansell nor Williams fans.

      I regard myself as a ‘typical’ F1 supporter and I don’t want to see, as The New 2 says, F1 become F3. Or, indeed, the pointless new F2. That is what Mosley, for whatever reason, was pushing F1 towards.

      It is not only easy to blame Mosley, but we should.

  30. VV says:

    Ferrari already have a perfectly acceptable replacement drafted in for Massa, a certain seven-time world champion from Germany. No need for Kubica.

  31. john g says:

    what a surprise, mosely comes out with yet another totally deluded statement. had he left when he should have, last year, i think F1 would have been in a much healthier state than we see now. i can see toyota and renault following suit. what i’m interested in is the timing of this announcement – could it be that there wasn’t unity and agreement in the forthcoming concord agreement?

    BMW have confirmed that they aren’t going to supply engines next year, but hopefully sauber can continue – it is looking as though there are going to be a lot of cosworth engines on the grid next year!!

    can definitely see kubica moving to ferrari now, hopefully heidfeld can find himself a decent place on the grid too next year

  32. jose says:

    Who cares if the “car salesmen” leave the sport. there are several “racing” teams trying to take those places. Epsilon euskadi has the sponsors and the expertise. So give them a chance. In the future those same “car salesmen teams” will be knoking on the door.
    Chris, i am getting fed up too, but i have the bug, i can’t help it. Then something new comes up, like the schumacher come back, and i start to like it again.

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