Nürburgring. BMW and WilliamsF1 today announced an extension of their existing partnership to contest the FIA Formula One World Championship for a further five years until the end of the 2009 season. The contract announcement comes 18 months ahead of the expiry of the existing partnership agreement at the end of the 2004 season.The new agreement is distinct from the previous terms of engagement between the two companies insofar as the new relationship will be characterised by an increased degree of integration. This enhances the benefit of combining the depth of resource offered by premium car maker BMW with the niche expertise of WilliamsF1, one of the most successful teams in Formula One history.
Dr. Burkhard Göschel is the board member of the BMW Group responsible for the BMW Formula One Project. He explained: "We are very pleased to have placed collaboration with WilliamsF1 on a sound and long-term basis. This new contract envisages enhanced integration between the two partners. As an automobile manufacturer, we have options that are simply not open to a racing team and we need to join together in exploiting these possibilities. By the same token, this is all about supporting the specialist expertise of one of the most successful teams in the history of Formula One, harnessing that expertise and achieving perfect integration. We are convinced that this alignment will lay the foundation stone for the future success of this project."
BMW WilliamsF1 Team Principal Frank Williams reflected, "BMW have been an extremely impressive and highly motivated engine partner to work with since 2000. I have every confidence that with the structure of this new agreement we will be able to draw from a deeper pool of BMW resource. When added together with the technical competence and determination to win at WilliamsF1, I believe that this relationship will yield significant dividends."
The commencement of the new partnership will coincide with multi-million dollar investment in capital facilities coming on stream, including a second new state-of-the-art wind tunnel facility due to be operational in early 2004. Frank Williams reflected, "I am delighted that the unprecedented level of investment at WilliamsF1 will contribute to the success of an extended partnership between the two companies. With this consolidation and stability in the programme stretching into the medium term, we now have an attractive platform from which to attract further commercial backing."
BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen outlined how cooperation would increase, "These contractual negotiations were protracted, but we were happy to take the time that was necessary in order to clarify all the issues in detail. As far as BMW was concerned, making comprehensive use of the know-how of the company's expertise and extending that knowledge was a decisive factor in entering Formula One. That's why we built our Munich Formula One facility very close to our Engineering and Research Center (FIZ) in Munich. The future will see similar networking between the Grove and Munich sites, with the aim of generating synergy benefits and optimising processes. This will be achieved by integrated and continuous joint project management. This groundwork was already laid in 2002. BMW will also contribute expertise in engine development and construction within the scope of this expanded co-operation. During the initial stage we will be focussing on joint development of the drive train with gearbox. The team will also derive increased benefit from the simulation and test experience of the Engineering and Research Center."
The first five-year contract between BMW and WilliamsF1 covers the years 2000 to 2004 inclusive. Signature of this contract was announced on 8 September 1997 at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
The BMW WilliamsF1 Team achieved a podium place in the very first Grand Prix (Australia 2000). Ralf Schumacher headed the team's achievements in 2000, claiming fifth place in the drivers' standings and in 2000 and 2001 the team took third place in the Constructors' World Championship. In 2002, the team improved its performance to finish as the second placed team. During the past three and a half years, the BMW WilliamsF1 Team has celebrated six victories, achieved a total of 29 podium places and 13 poles. The two cars have started on the first row of the grid four times. At the half-way mark of the 2003 season, the team is ranked third in the constructors' standings with 64 World Championship points.