DECEMBER 2, 2007

BMW looks ahead and over its shoulder

BMW Motorsport announced that it will be testing Marko Asmer (23) and Javier Villa (20) at Jerez this week. The two will be competing to become the new reserve driver for the German company following the departures of Sebastian Vettel to Scuderia Toro Rosso and Timo Glock to Toyota. Perahps, however, the most interesting news from Munich was that longtime motorsport ambassador Hans Stuck is leaving the firm to move to a new job at Volkswagen. There have been suggestions that this may result in Stuck being the head of a Volkswagen Formula 1 project.

VW has often been rumoured as being involved in moves towards F1, particularly as Audi has achieved all it can achieve in sports car racing, with a string of wins at Le Mans and in the American Le Mans Series. The news about Stuck's move coincides with big changes going on at Volkswagen where a decision of the European Court of Justice in October has opened the way for a change of control. The Volkswagen Law granted the state of Lower Saxony special privileges as it was allowed to control the firm no matter who owned the shares. The Porsche car company has been buying Volkswagen stock for some years and has plans to increase its share to 50% of the company. The European Court decision means that Porsche will now control Volkswagen. Porsche itself is controlled by the Porsche Family, headed by Ferdinand Piech, the grandson of the founder. The story is complicated because Ferdinand Porsche was also the founder of Volkswagen and Piech became chairman of Volkswagen between 1993 to 2002. Since he retired Piech has seemed to be on a mission to get Volkswagen back under Porsche Family control. The Stuck Family is also involved in the story as Hans Stuck's father Hans Sr was the man who introduced Ferdinand Porsche to Adolf Hitler and by doing so brought about the decision for the Nazi government to fund the AutoUnion racing team. This also led to Hitler agreeing to fund the establishment of Volkswagen.

Piech and Stuck may now be planning to take Volkswagen back into Grand Prix racing.