News and views on motorsports

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

BMW Withdrawal

After a some frenzied media reports last night it was confirmed today that BMW Sauber will withdraw from Formula 1 as of next season. At the moment, I have no great feelings of loss about this. Perhaps it will come in time.

But of course the FIA has sprung into action immediately following BMW's announcement citing the on-going need for cost reductions, we told you so blah blah blah. But understand a couple of things.

Firstly, BMW Sauber left not because of costs but because after 10 years they have nothing to show for it. Well there was that time in 2003 when they came close with both Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya mounted a very stern challenge to both Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen. However, whose fault was it that they didn't end up winning? Why, it was the FIA at the instigation of Ferrari in regards the legality of the Michelin tyres. Quite how a tyre constructed in exactly the same way for two and half seasons and deemed legal was suddenly judged to infringe on some rule regarding its width the moment said tyre started winning races, is beyond me.

Second, costs may have something to do with BMWs departure. Sure its expensive. But in reality, manufacturers want to win more than anything. As long as they are winning, they'll stay. But eventually they will leave as well once they have extracted enough marketing or technological research benefits from racing. Witness Honda in the late 80s and early 90s. They spent a fortune on their engines. And while they were winning they were quite happy to do so. However, after 7 seasons of being the engine to have, Renault came along and rained on their parade. After 7 seasons of good publicity Honda immediately decided it was quite enough and their reputation had already been established. My point is expensive or not, when a manufacturer has had enough, they will leave whether the FIA or Bernie Ecclestone likes it or not.

And frankly speaking, what the hell is wrong with someone leaving. Its not the end of the world. Someone else will come along eventually. Whats more important in grand prix racing is rule stability. This doesn't prevent teams from spending money but whatever gains they get is marginal and can be overcome as teams get used to the technology and is able to catch up to the big boys. Its been proven before in the past and if the FIA get their head out of cloud cuckoo land it will prove so again.

As I keep repeating, if Formula 1 as we know it dies because every single manufacturer opted to leave, you can be assured that others will come to take their place. The less manufacturers there are in fact, the less costly this will become. Unlike other series like touring cars or even sportscars, Formula 1 is the pinnacle and surely teams would want to race in this pinnacle. If there wasn't a Formula 1, someone would invent it because its needed. Instead of the constant fiddling of the rules, the FIA should just leave it alone and things would be absolutely fine. Other teams have left in the past, teams far more illustrious than BMW. Think Lotus or Brabham. And it will survive this departure.

1 comment:

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