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Could BMW Return to Formula One?

BMW withdrew from the world of Formula One after the 2009 season due to the severe global economic downturn. The German company was forced to cut costs, and although their Sauber outfit was competitive in the Constructors’ Championship in the 2007 and 2008 terms, finishing second and third respectively. Despite their relative success in the sport, the expense ended their involvement and they have not opted to re-join the action since. However, with new regulations coming into force for the 2021 term, there could be an opening for a return, considering that the financial markets have settled.

The company had previously been solely an engine supplier, most notably in a six-year spell working with Williams between 2000 and 2005. The outfit came close to victories in the Constructors and Drivers’ Championship, with Juan Pablo Montoya reeling off back-to-back third-place finishes. Ralf Schumacher also enjoyed success with Williams during the run, notching six victories, including back-to-back triumphs in the 2003 campaign in France and Austria.

Buoyed by their success, they ventured into sport as BMW Sauber in 2006. Although Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica were consistent during their tenure with the team, only Kubica was able to record a victory in the 2008 campaign. BMW Sauber were expected to make a challenge for the Constructors’ Championship crown in 2009, but they, along with the rest of the field, were blown away by the performances of Brawn GP before .

Mercedes’ dominance of Formula One at the moment does not make a return to the ranks an attractive proposition for BMW. Although Lewis Hamilton finished behind former BMW driver Sebastian Vettel in the opening race of the 2018 season, Mercedes are still considered the to win the Constructors’ Championship at 2/7.

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However, with time to build up a strong understanding of the new regulations that will come into force in 2021, BMW could make an impact similar to that of Brawn GP in 2009. Ross Brawn’s outfit controlled the sport in the term as Jenson Button won the Drivers’ Championship crown, while the team won the Constructors’ Championship in the Brit’s combined effort with Rubens Barrichello. The success of the team led to a buyout from Mercedes, who have built on Brawn’s achievement and turned themselves into the dominant side in the sport.

It will be difficult for BMW to have the same impact, but their experience could allow them to at least provide a challenge. Luring a top-quality driver could also make the difference, with 2016 Drivers’ Championship winner . The German may relish the opportunity to prove himself with a rising team after enjoying a fine spell with Mercedes, leading to his title win by a narrow margin ahead of Hamilton. That could be the spark that BMW would need to return to the highest level of the sport and end Mercedes’ stranglehold at the top.

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