Honda website
Honda website

JUNE 11, 2005

Williams, Sauber and BMW

The story suggesting that BMW has bought Sauber is not to be taken too seriously. The rumours which emanate from a report on BBC Radio 5 say that the Swiss team has been purchased for $270m by BMW. This sum is wildly in excess of what the team is worth and the number appears to have been confused with the annual F1 budget of BMW Motorsport. Sauber denies the story. In all probability the stories are something to do with the ongoing battle of wills between Williams and BMW Motorsport boss Mario Theissen over the way the project is managed. Theissen has been to the BMW board to try to get them to agree to buy the Swiss team but our sources say that the board stalled on a decision because of the financial risks involved. It is not over yet but the money men in Munich are clearly more cautious that Theissen.

Since the meeting various stories have emerged in which Williams has openly criticised Theissen (as opposed to BMW). Not all of these interviews took place after the board meeting so its is probably fair to say that they are not a reaction to what happened but they do show clearly the level of acrimony within the partnership and indicate that Williams is not keen on working with Theissen in the future. This does not mean that Williams no longer wants to work with BMW.

In all probability BMW will end up supplying engines to Sauber and Williams in 2006 because Munich cannot really afford to be represented in F1 by Sauber alone. To agree to accept that situation would be a major vote of faith in F1 by BMW as it would mean that the company was looking at the longer strategy of building up its own team. The down side of this is that it would be three or four years before the team could be brought up to the level to be able to win races and, without Williams, BMW would be facing a big investment with no obvious short-term rewards.