BMW remains committed to its involvement in Formula 1, Dr Mario Theissen has stressed in the wake of arguably the Bavarian manufacturer's most abject performance in history in the Bahrain Grand Prix – but should success not return soon, the 'long-term' future of the team is somewhat cloudier.
In a race where this time twelve months ago Robert Kubica had delivered BMW its first F1 pole position as a manufacturer squad in its own right and converted it into a solid podium finish, this time around the Pole and team-mate Nick Heidfeld took the chequered flag a lap down and just 18th and 19th – or, to put it another way, last and last-but one.
Though both drivers were delayed on the opening lap after being squeezed into each other under braking for the first corner, still their pace was poor throughout, with neither able to make any impression on the competition and subsequently bemoaning a chronic lack of performance from the F1.09.
Theissen has promised significant improvements for the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona in just under a fortnight's time – the beginning of the European leg of the 2009 campaign – but unless they have a dramatic effect, the Munich and Hinwil-based outfit's hopes of fulfilling its stated pre-season goal of battling it out for world championship glory look to be all-but dead in the water.
That, allied to the current global credit crunch having forced all car makers to seriously re-assess their priorities, has cast some doubt upon BMW's continued participation in the top flight. Rival German manufacturer Mercedes-Benz has recently speculated that it may re-think its own position if McLaren is punished heavily by the FIA over the Melbourne 'lies' scandal when the World Motor Sport Council meets in Paris later this week [see separate story – click here
]. The Stuttgart marque currently supplies McLaren, current pace-setters Brawn GP and traditional tail-enders Force India with powerplants.
“Formula 1 is valuable,” BMW Motorsport Director Theissen told German broadcaster RTL
. “Before the season the project was evaluated again in detail, and the financial situation was part of the analysis – but in the long-term we also need success.”