BMW has confirmed that it is to quit F1 at the end of the 2009 season, becoming the second major manufacturer to leave the sport in barely eight months.
An emergency press conference called at BMW's headquarters in Munich confirmed the news, although the manufacturer will continue with its motorsport programme elsewhere.
The decision to restructure its motorsport plans was made following a board meeting on Tuesday, with a statement revealing that 'resources freed up as a result are to be dedicated to the development of new drive technologies and projects in the field of sustainability'.
“Of course, this was a difficult decision for us, but it's a resolute step in view of our company's strategic realignment," Dr. Norbert Reithofer, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, said. “Premium will increasingly be defined in terms of sustainability and environmental compatibility. This is an area in which we want to remain in the lead.
“In line with our Strategy Number ONE, 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.
“Mario Theissen has been in charge of our motor sports program since 1999. We have scored a large number of successes in this period, including some in Formula One racing. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Mario Theissen and his team for this,”
Having been an engine supplier to Williams for a number of years, BMW purchased the Sauber team in 2005 and entered a team under its own banner in 2006 – showing gradual improvement before the 2008 campaign, when Robert Kubica took BMW's maiden win and finished fourth in the championship standings.
However, rather than build on that performance, BMW has struggled this season following the introduction of new regulations and currently lie down in eighth place in the standings with just eight points.