BMW Pulls Out Of Formula One

The July announcement from BMW that the German company would cease participation in Formula One after the 2009 season was not necessarily unexpected. Following the nosedive of car sales around the world and Honda’s similar announcement only eight months prior, the question is not why BMW pulled out. The real question is how many more auto companies will follow their example.

Though Ferrari is unlikely to detach itself from Formula One racing, auto companies with a slightly less racy image may not stand to gain as much from their association with the top racing series across Europe and Asia. As car sales plummet, profits drop, and manufacturers look for ways to slash costs, teams and fans alike wonder if Mercedes Benz, Toyota, and Renault are next to withdraw their names and funding.

Besides concerns over cash flow, BMW’s less than stellar racing results also contributed to its pull out. BMW had hoped to win the Formula One championship within three years but achieved no higher than its second-place finish in 2007. Results continued to slip after that, and the BMW teams were unable to stage a rebound.

Another pivotal factor in their decision appears to have been concern for the environment and improving their image as a greener and more earth-friendly car manufacturer. The company plans to invest money formerly spent on Formula One into its vehicles’ “sustainability and environmental compatibility.” Formula One’s high speeds and huge fuel use did not exactly go hand in hand with that environmental sustainability.

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