BMW has made a pretty big announcement about its motorsport involvement in the future, which will expand to the FIA World Endurance Championship and Formula E.
The German marque has never actually raced in the FIA WEC and last raced at Le Mans in 2011, but will join the series in the GTE category with a new GT car.
It already races in tin-top racing with the DTM and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series and that will continue.
But BMW will join the WEC in 2018, which is pretty big news and follows a familiar trend we have been seeing in recent years.
Of course, BMW was a long-time engine supplier in Formula 1 before taking over the Sauber team for the 2006 season.
It became a front-running team in 2007 and 2008, winning the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix with Robert Kubica. But for various reasons (including the demise in competitiveness for the team and the global financial situation) BMW said “bye, bye” to F1.
We’re seeing more and more manufacturers switching from F1 to endurance racing, or choosing it over F1 altogether.
Toyota exited F1 in 2009 and joined the WEC in 2012 in the LMP1 class, while Audi and Porsche have stayed away from F1 in favour of endurance racing.
BMW joining the WEC is certainly exciting, although it’s only in the GTE class – a prototype entry doesn’t seem likely in the near future, anyway.
It already has a close tie to Formula E as its “Official Vehicle Partner” (because that’s a thing), supplying the i3 and i8 to the all-electric series.
But BMW is tentatively dipping its toe further into the Formula E pool by linking up with the MS Amlin Andretti team as a technical partner.
It’s a two-year deal, with BMW evaluating a possible works deal from season five. Like the WEC, Formula E is drawing in some big manufacturers.