There has been a lot of news this week about teams and companies shuffling their motorsport priorities, including BMW and Audi leaving Formula E, Bentley dropping its GT3 program, and Volkswagen leaving racing altogether. Here comes another startling addition to that pile, as BMW has also decided to end its partnership with Schnitzer after more than 50 largely successful years together.
BMW has been working in direct partnership with Schnitzer for longer than I have been alive. Together the twin German partnership has produced victories at Le Mans, in the DTM championship, and in World Touring Cars. In 2020, Schnitzer’s BMW factory-backed efforts included a run at the Nurburgring 24 with six BMW pro racing drivers, as well as some development work on the coming BMW M4 GT3 race car.
Schnitzer left BMW’s DTM operations in 2016 when the company scaled down its efforts from four cars to two. That left the company’s DTM running with the Racing Bart Mampaey team at the reins. But, with the end of Class One regulations for the DTM series, BMW no longer needs the racing expertise of RBM to compete in the series, and has cancelled that team’s contract for 2021 as well.
This news appears to confirm that BMW will not have any manufacturer involvement in the new GT3-regulations era of DTM. Add in the loss of the company’s Formula E efforts and the rumored severe contraction of its IMSA GTLM efforts to just four races in 2021, BMW won’t really be racing anywhere as a factory for the 2022 season. For a company that has always had motorsport at its core, this seems like a big departure from BMW’s history.
“We very much regret that, given the changes in motorsport, it is no longer possible to continue the cooperation with BMW Motorsport,” said Schnitzer Motorsport team principal Herbert Schnitzer Jr. “However, we obviously understand and respect the decision. We are proud that we Schnitzers have, together with BMW, shaped international motorsport for so many decades.
“It is a pleasure to look back on all the big successes we have enjoyed together in such a wide range of categories. We are also very proud to be a part of motorsport history at BMW. We would like to thank BMW Motorsport for this long, unique partnership. BMW was our life and our passion.”
BMW’s website still lists factory drivers Connor De Phillippi, John Edwards, Jesse Krohn, Bill Auberlen, Philipp Eng, Nicky Catsburg, and Augusto Farfus. BMW DTM drivers Jens Klingmann, Martin Tomczyk, Sheldon van der Linde, Marco Wittmann, Timo Glock, and Lucas Auer are not listed, and have presumably been released from their contracts with the Bayerische Motoren Werke. The team recently lost Alexander Sims to the Corvette C8.R team in IMSA, so there’s no telling how many of these racers will still be in the BMW stable come 2021.
A sad end to a long and fruitful partnership.