MAY 19, 1997
Rumors from Munich
BMW Motorsport engineers began studying normally-aspirated F1 engines as long ago as 1986 but a year later - faced by intense competition in the automotive markets - the Munich company withdrew from F1. Since then there have been constant rumors saying that BMW is about to come back to F1.
In 1988 there was a plan for a full BMW F1 team but this was rejected in July that year, which led to the resignation of BMW Motorsport boss Peter Flohr. In 1990 BMW commissioned Max Mosley's Simtek Research to design a chassis but that project was canceled a year later although a prototype 3.5-liter BMW F1 engine was running on the dynos in 1991. The company had another look at F1 in 1993 but decided to wait a couple of years.
At the end of 1995 there was another flurry of activity with BMW having talks with both Jackie Stewart and Williams but in March 1996 the board voted not to enter F1 before 2000 because other investment was needed in America and to turn around the ailing Rover Group.
A year on it seems BMW has decided to take the plunge in 2000 and the latest rumors from Munich suggest that an engine project has been agreed and will be announced at the Frankfurt Motor Show in the autumn. This will be in collaboration with Williams which will build BMW sportscars in 1998 and 1999.
Paul Rosche - BMW's veteran engine builder - is believed to have been working away quietly on a prototype 3-liter engine for the last couple of years, in the hope that the board would agree to a full-scale program.
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