BMW has dismissed Bernie Ecclestone's suggestion that it may be the next major manufacturer to announce a return to the F1 fold when the sport embraces new engine rules from 2014.
Honda finally ended a couple of months of rumour and speculation when it confirmed that it would be reuniting with McLaren from 2015, and Ecclestone responded to that news by telling City AM
that he could foresee BMW following suit before too long [ see separate story
The German marque, however, insists that it has no immediate plans to reconsider its involvement in the top flight, content with its current interest in other series.
"I do not know who has spoken with Bernie, but we are pleased with our current programme, with the DTM as top turn,” BMW motorsport director Jens Marquardt told Germany's motorsport-total.com
, “We are currently set up super well with GT racing on the Nordschleife and in the ALMS and with customer sport. We have no intention to look into other areas.”
BMW became a fully-fledged F1 constructor after buying the Sauber team in 2006, but a lack of success brought the programme to a shuddering halt after just four seasons, with the German giant selling its operation back to Peter Sauber at the end of 2009. Although there was a step up in competitiveness – Robert Kubica won in Canada in 2008 and there were other podium finishes over the years, with a high point of third in the 2007 constructors' standings – the lack of continued success and impending global financial struggles prompted BMW's complete withdrawal from the top flight.
“We deliberately withdrew from F1 and based [our motorsport involvement] on what our customers really recognise as BMW,” Marquardt explained, “There is no reason to change anything on this concept as, currently, it runs very well. There are always good times to enter somewhere. For example, we found a good time for our DTM entry because there were the new regulations [but], while there are now new engine regulations in F1, this has not caused us [to change out mind]. "
Another engine supplier may help to ease the costs being charged for the new breed of turbocharged V6 engines required from next season. While Ferrari is currently the cheapest option, and Mercedes is reported to have lowered the price of its basic package to reflect the current economic squeeze, Renault is rumoured to be piquing Ecclestone's ire but continuing to set its unit at around €23m for a season. Four teams currently use the French company's powerplants, including reigning world champion Red Bull.
Such is Ecclestone's displeasure, however, that it is claimed he banished Renault Sport's support truck to the outer reaches of the F1 paddock in Barcelona. The battle of wits looks likely to end in stalemate though, as Renault knows that Mercedes and Ferrari cannot supply the entire field should it decide enough is enough.