BMW Deal Leaves Williams in a Quandary

BMW's move deeper into Formula One with the takeover of Sauber cements the future of that team while dealing a blow to current partners Williams

BMW Deal Leaves Williams in a Quandary

Even if the move was not unexpected after a clear deterioration in relations with the Munich-based carmaker, Williams now have two obvious options and neither involve an exclusive manufacturer deal.

Although the British-based team had no immediate comment on Wednesday's announcement, they can either continue racing with BMW engines on equal terms with Sauber next season or look elsewhere.

BMW and privately-owned Williams have been together since 2000, winning just 10 races in that period, and their partnership was supposed to run until 2009.

The Sauber deal alluded to that situation, with BMW committed to buying team founder Peter Sauber's shares and then successively the stake held by principal sponsor Credit Suisse through to the end of 2008.

BMW board member Burkhard Goeschel said the carmaker would be happy to continue supplying Williams with engines, which would be the same as supplied to Sauber, and talks would continue next week.

"There will certainly be an offer from us," he told reporters in Munich.

Whether Williams would still get a 'free' supply remains to be seen however.

"We've managed to get through merit a freebie engine but next year, maybe, we have to pay for engines," owner Frank Williams said in Indianapolis last week.

Scant Choice

The problem for Williams, winners of nine constructors' titles and seven drivers' crowns since 1980, is that there is not a lot of choice elsewhere.

Only privately-owned Cosworth is clearly touting for business.

Toyota, Honda, Renault, Ferrari and Mercedes all have existing teams - either wholly or partly-owned to concentrate on - while Toyota and Ferrari are also providing engines to second teams.

Sauber's Ferrari engine supply will go to Red Bull in 2006 while Toyota are talking to Jordan about renewing that deal when the team are renamed Midland next year.

The engine rules are also changing, with V8 units being introduced for 2006 although teams can stay with rev-limited V10s if they chose.

Minardi have already said they will use a Cosworth V10 next year, leaving no takers so far for a Cosworth V8 that is well-advanced and reputedly impressive.

The engine side is only part of the problem for Williams however, with the team deriving most of its funding from sponsorship.

The main backer is HP, with other sponsors including Royal Bank of Scotland, Allianz, Accenture, Budweiser, FedEx, Hamleys, Oris and Reuters.

Williams would not say last week what proportion of the team's backers were linked to the involvement of BMW.

"That's a business question and I'd rather not answer it," he said. "But in simple terms, in the event of a switch, it means we're still solidly in business."

BMW's decision to run their own team also subtly shifts the Formula One landscape, strengthening the hand of carmakers in their battle for control of the sport and sending the message that BMW at least intend to be around long-term.

shares
comments
Jordan to Test EJ15B at Barcelona

Previous article

Jordan to Test EJ15B at Barcelona

Next article

Analysis: End of the Road for Sauber

Analysis: End of the Road for Sauber
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Teams Williams
Author Alan Baldwin
How 2021's midfielders have taken lessons from F1's top teams Plus

How 2021's midfielders have taken lessons from F1's top teams

Formula 1’s latest Imola adventure turned into an expensive trip for many teams due to several crashes throughout the weekend. While balancing the books is an added factor in 2021 with the cost cap, a few midfield teams have cashed in early on development investments

Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Driver Ratings

A frantic wet race at Imola produced plenty of excitement and drama as drivers scrabbled for grip. Amid the hatful of mistakes and incidents that ensued, who kept their noses cleanest?

How the Emilia Romagna GP result hinged on three crucial saves Plus

How the Emilia Romagna GP result hinged on three crucial saves

Rain before the start of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix promised to spice up the action, and the race certainly delivered on that. Max Verstappen got the best launch to win from Lewis Hamilton, but both got away with mistakes that could have had serious consequences

The back-bedroom world-beater that began a new F1 era Plus

The back-bedroom world-beater that began a new F1 era

The first in a line of world beaters was designed in a back bedroom and then constructed in a shed. STUART CODLING recalls the Tyrrell 001

Formula 1
Apr 18, 2021
The clues Hamilton’s F1 contract afterthought gives to his future Plus

The clues Hamilton’s F1 contract afterthought gives to his future

The Formula 1 world reacted with surprise when it learned Lewis Hamilton’s long-awaited new Mercedes deal guarantees his presence on the grid only until the end of 2021. Both parties claimed publicly they were happy with the arrangement but, asks MARK GALLAGHER, is there more to it than that?

Formula 1
Apr 17, 2021
How a harshly ejected Red Bull star has been hooked by racing again Plus

How a harshly ejected Red Bull star has been hooked by racing again

Driver-turned-DJ Jaime Alguersuari lost his love for motorsport when he was booted out of Formula 1 just as he was starting to polish his rough edges. Having drifted from category to category then turned his back on racing altogether in 2015, he’s come full circle and is planning a return in karts for fun

Formula 1
Apr 17, 2021
Why Mercedes isn't confident it's really ahead of Red Bull at Imola Plus

Why Mercedes isn't confident it's really ahead of Red Bull at Imola

While Mercedes struck back against Red Bull by topping the times at Imola on Friday ahead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, the overall picture remains incredibly close. Despite having a possible edge this weekend, the reigning Formula 1 world champion squad is not taking anything for granted...

Formula 1
Apr 16, 2021
What Mercedes must do to keep its F1 title challenge on track Plus

What Mercedes must do to keep its F1 title challenge on track

Mercedes may find itself leading the drivers' and constructors' standings after Lewis Hamilton's victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix, but it is well-aware that it came against the odds, with Red Bull clearly ahead on pace. Here's what the Brackley team must do to avoid its crown slipping

Formula 1
Apr 16, 2021