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Should Audi and BMW Join Formula One?

Formula One has been dominated by two teams for the past eight years, with Red Bull and Mercedes enjoying a monopoly of the Drivers and Constructors’ Championship. Since 2010, only three drivers have managed to claim the crown, with Sebastian Vettel reeling off four wins on the bounce. Lewis Hamilton took over with an imperious run of form, lifting the trophy in three of the last four seasons. Only Nico Rosberg managed the break the cycle of the Brit’s winning run with his triumph in 2016.

At the start of the 2018 season, the theme appears be continuing, although Ferrari have replaced Red Bull as Mercedes’ rivals at the top of the sport. However, with Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas in place, the German outfit are still overwhelming favourites at 2/7 in the F1 betting odds to win the Constructors’ Championship for the fifth-straight season. Although the new owners of the sport, Liberty Media have vowed to make changes, it raises the question whether new teams are needed to provide real competition at the top.

Audi have been touted with a foray into the world of Formula One. The German company have resisted the urge to enter the fray in the past, although they have been keen participants in Formula E. The team have enjoyed success in all three of their campaigns in the sport, finishing third in their debut season in the Constructors’ Championship before finishing second in successive seasons. Driver Lucas di Grassi finished third and second before he made a breakthrough in the 2016/17 campaign, winning the Drivers’ Championship. It’s clear that Audi have a strong understanding of success in motor racing, but whether they would be able to translate that form into the world of Formula One is another matter.

BMW had to leave the sport in the 2009 campaign due to the financial crisis that had engulfed the world. Financial losses dictated that the German company had to withdraw, despite enjoying relative success with their BWM Sauber outfit. BMW had been simply an engine supplier for six years for Williams, with the team finishing third and second in the Constructors’ Championship twice on the bounce between 2000 and 2004. Their success buoyed BMW so much so that they created their own team for the 2006 campaign. Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica were solid competitors and helped the Sauber finish second and third in the Constructors’ Championship. The team were expected to challenge in 2009 before a rules change provided a shake-up, allowing Brawn GP to triumph.

The financial crash forced BWM to withdraw, but now matters have settled they could be tempted to re-join. Liberty Media are poised to announce another shake-up of the sport, while new regulations will be coming into force in time for the 2021 campaign. There will be time for the two companies to assess whether they will be able to put forward a strong team and vehicle to compete at the top of Formula One. The sport could do with more competition in the Constructors’ Championship and their proven calibre may liven up proceedings.

 

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