Q & A with Mario Theissen

Q. Did the announcement shock you as much as everyone else, or did you have an inkling of what was going to happen?

Q & A with Mario Theissen

Mario Theissen: It surprised me yes.

After Hungary.

Yes. One day before the official announcement.

Well of course I knew that it was under review. We had an evaluation on board level the week before. But then the board said, 'We will take our time to come to a decision'.

We had an overall review of the project. Sporting side... everything.

I think not too much different because the underlying theme was that the board has said there was a shift in the corporate strategy. This is something which happens not from one day to another. It's a long-term issue. A continuous move. And then there are apparently other instant events which trigger such a decision and in this case it has been the obligation to sign up (to the Concorde Agreement) for three more years, under a certain environment and that was basically the culmination.

It triggered the decision.

I don't know about the timing. We would appreciate to get as much time as possible because you can imagine it is not easy. It is our first priority now, to keep the team up and running under new ownership and that is something which you cannot sort out within a few days.

We have signed up for next year, on Monday.

Not from our side but there was an agreement between all the teams and the FIA that after the signature of the Concorde Agreement, there would be a new entry form and all the entries would be renewed.

We are now waiting for the decision. We have applied and it is for the FIA now to decide if we are accepted.

We did not have to show an engine supply contract but we have given some indication. We are talking to some engine manufacturers and there would be a solution.

That's still open. I'm not thinking about it. The first priority is to secure the future of the team in my current role with the team. And then after the season we can see what will happen to me.

It's not easy but there are opportunities. There are interested investors, apparently a wide spectrum from just an interested question up to a structured concept with a profound business plan. And we are currently evaluating these.

It would certainly follow the resource restriction agreement worked out by the FOTA teams and it would probably not be at the upper end of the spectrum so it would probably need to shrink in terms of resources. Certainly more than the forecast cap would request.

They have to come down now anyway, and I cannot say now how far it would go. It would depend on who steps in and what is the concept of this investor.

I would say there is no room for thoughts like this now. We are in a difficult situation, we want to make the best out of it. Still we have seven races to go, we can achieve and McLaren has shown in Hungary what is possible. We are still pushing even harder than before and then we will see what the future brings.

Yes it is unfinished business, in the way that we haven't won the championship. We have achieved a lot but not the ultimate step.

Under the current name of the team. But it is clear that the team would have to be renamed when a new investor steps in.

Well under the new Concorde Agreement that is a fairly straightforward process and shouldn't create a problem.

Well fortunately I'm not working on my own, I am doing it together with Peter. He is trying very hard to use his connections and he is talking to people. We are doing it jointly. I cannot tell you anything about the on-going negotiations, as I have said there are several interested parties, and we are just about to evaluate the individual proposals.

That's part of our negotiations we are talking to them.

No. It clearly is BMW's first priority to keep the team going.

You might ask me this question again a few months from now. It all depends on what we are able to pull off now.

Well that as well can only be answered after a deal has been concluded or has not been possible.

Yes the first attempt didn't work. That's all I can say and we will see if it is realistic.

It would have been easier yes. But that is how business is, it's always parties of different interests and then you have to try and get together.

Well that depends on the proposal we can make to the other teams and the FIA, obviously the team will need the acceptance of all the other parties, support has been indicated by FOTA as well as by FOM, so I am not too pessimistic. But we need to find someone to really run the team.

And then on the evaluation, a decision from the board side, I am not disillusioned because when we started the project 10 years ago, it has always been clear to me that a company like BMW will review all its activities on an annual basis. And I think we have had a great time over 10 years and that's a lot. It's been an exciting time and good achievement, good for BMW, good for the people. And even if we don't find a solution to continue as a team I wouldn't be disillusioned.

No that is not from our side. What we have said is that we will evaluate alternative projects for the future in the touring car and GT area. And apparently DTM is on GT level, so you can think about something and we would be open to that. But not DTM in its current form. Some kind of GT racing might be attractive to us if the format is right, if the car can be used in several series, and things like this.

First time I've heard about it.

There were several factors. The dominant factor is the longterm corporate strategy. That will in some way direct all the projects, then the immediate trigger for such a decision might be something totally different like sporting performance, financial effort. But in this case it was the request to commit to three years at a certain date. And that triggered the decision.

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