JANUARY 3, 2003
Williams and BMW
There has been considerable speculation in recent weeks over the future of the Williams-BMW relationship. In part this is because there are some in Munich who believe that BMW should start its own Formula 1 team but at the same time it has also been a useful tool for BMW to use as it renegotiates its deal with Williams for the longer term. The current deal expires at the end of 2004 and so if BMW is to going to go its own way there is very little time in which to do anything, although our sources say that if BMW did decide to run its own operation it would do the same as Renault has done and buy an existing team. The obvious candidates for this would be Jordan and Sauber although the team bosses say that neither one is currently for sale.
The big problem for BMW is that a commitment to start its own F1 team is a major undertaking and with the current uncertain times there would be risks involved. The biggest problem would seem to be the fact that there is currently no long-term political stability in the sport as it is not clear what will happen after the current Concorde Agreement expires in 2008. BMW is one of the companies involved in the GPWC but there serious question marks about whether this will actually happen.
BMW is by nature a cautious company - it took a lot of years to convince the firm that it should be back in F1 - and risk-taking has proved in the past to have serious consequences, notably the company's involvement in MG, which cost the firm a fortune. The signs are, therefore, that BMW will ultimately agree a new long term deal with Williams. The poor performance in 2002 and the worries about the BMW deal have led the team to take a good hard look at the way it operates and it is now in the process of revamping some of its technical departments, having realised that things needed to be changed. The team is confident that as these changes filter through the hierarchy the cars will become increasingly competitive and will be in a position to challenge Ferrari as the season progresses.
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