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Lotus is returning to Formula One racing with a team run by the Malaysian government and a group of Malaysian investors.
The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile selected the Lotus F1 Team to replace the withdrawing BMW team in the 2010 season. Lotus will be the 13th team, restoring the brand as an F1 constructor for the first time since 1994. Lotus confirmed the news at its press conference at the Frankfurt Auto Show.
The team will be headed by Tony Fernandes, founder and chief executive officer of Malaysian-based Tune Group, owner of Air Asia airline. Though the ownership is based in Malaysia, the team will initially be based in Norfolk, England, just ten miles from the Lotus factory.
The BMW Sauber team was appointed the 14th team, ready to step in should another team withdraw, though the FIA says it may increase the grid to 28 cars. In a news release, the FIA said BMW Sauber had an “application of high quality” and would be competitive even without the support of the manufacturer.
Official release after the jump.
BMW-Sauber team will ride out 2009 season but will not return for 2010.
BMW will not return to Formula One after the 2009 season, the company said yesterday in a press release. After watching the BMW-powered Williams cars flounder, BMW decided to buy a majority stake in the team in 2005, (re-naming it BMW-Sauber), in the hopes that under strict corporate control it could be victorious. That would not be and BMW’s lack of success, particularly this year where it has just 8 points in 10 races and sits eighth overall, was a significant factor in the withdrawal.
The other major factors include the massive costs incurred in running an F1 team as well as what BMW says is a new corporate strategy.
“Resources freed up as a result are to be dedicated to the development of new drive technologies and projects in the field of sustainability,” read the statement.
Team boss Mario Theissen said BMW is now looking for a buyer for its team. With BMW done, it leaves just four manufacturers competing in motorsports’ top tier championship: Ferrari, Renault, Toyota and McLaren/Mercedes. Three other manufacturers are expected to join F1 next year.
BMW’s decision comes several months after Honda pulled from Formula One in December.
[Source: Automotive News]