Mike Stevens | Jul 30, 2009

BMW HAS CONFIRMED it will withdraw from Formula One at the close of the current campaign following a disastrous season.

After winning its debut Grand Prix at Canada last year, BMW’s fortunes took a turn for the worse this year.

For most of the season it has found itself struggling at the rear of the grid as it became increasingly apparent the team hadn’t come to grips with the new technical regulations.

Despite working actively to eliminate the prospect of a budget cap for 2010, BMW Group management has decided to drop its Formula One program, making it the second manufacturer in 12 months to leave the sport.

BMW Sauber F1 boss Mario Theissen said: "Of course, we, the employees in Hinwil and Munich, would all have liked to continue this ambitious campaign and show that this season was just a hiccup following three successful years.

"But I can understand why this decision was made from a corporate perspective.We will now focus sharply on the remaining races and demonstrate our fighting spirit and put in a good result as we bid farewell to Formula 1 racing."

However, BMW is still to reach a decision regarding the fate of the team and hasn't decided whether to sell it to a new investor or shut down operations.

With the future of nearly 700 staff members - including drivers Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica - now in doubt, the Formula One Teams Association has vowed to support the team.

“FOTA Teams have immediately consulted each other and are ready to assure all the necessary support to the Swiss-based team, whose membership in the association is confirmed, to continue its involvement in the F1 Sport,” FOTA Secretary General Simon Perillo said.

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Outgoing FIA President Max Mosley proposed the introduction of a budget cap for 2010 in a bid to minimise the potential departure of further manufacturers from the sport, and help solidify the grid.

In a statement, the FIA said BMW’s announcement justified its decision to forge ahead with plans to reduce costs in Formula One.

“The FIA regrets the announcement of BMW’s intended withdrawal from Formula One but is not surprised by it. It has been clear for some time that motor sport cannot ignore the world economic crisis,” the statement read.

“Car manufacturers cannot be expected to continue to pour large sums of money into Formula One when their survival depends on redundancies, plant closures and the support of the taxpayer.”

“This is why the FIA prepared regulations to reduce costs drastically. These measures were needed to alleviate the pressure on manufacturers following Honda’s withdrawal but also to make it possible for new teams to enter.

“Had these regulations not been so strongly opposed by a number of team principals, the withdrawal of BMW and further such announcements in the future might have been avoided.”

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