BMW set to stick with Williams

BMW motor-sport director Mario Theissen insisted at Nürburgring on Saturday that the German company expects to stay with Williams beyond the end of this season despite persistent rumours to the contrary.

Williams, who have been partners with BMW since 2000, look set to be forced to share their engine supply with Sauber next season, with Theissen predicting a conclusion to talks with the Swiss outfit by the end of June.

But he insisted that recent rumours of a potential Sauber buy-out and claims that such a move could lead to them pulling their supply deal with Williams were wide of the mark and said they are already working together for the future.

“We are focusing on the cooperation with Williams,” said Theissen. “We want to have a strong season together and I expect the relationship to continue beyond the end of the season.

“It certainly takes some time to adapt to a different package and I can tell you that we are very busy working on next year’s package with the car and the engine.”

Williams have been under pressure to perform this season, but they have stepped up their development and are the only team to have scored a double podium finish following their second and third places in Monaco last weekend.

German Nick Heidfeld claimed pole position for them at the European Grand Prix at Nürburgring on Saturday, but Theissen claimed the recent results were only what had been expected of the team at the start of the season.

“We really appreciate what we achieved as a team in the last race and today and it goes some way to what we expected,” he said. “I certainly hope we can continue to get close to the front-runners, to win races.”

Sauber, who are currently supplied engines by world champions Ferrari, will lose their current deal to Red Bull Racing at the end of the season and have been in talks with BMW since the start of the season.

“We said at the beginning of this year that we are prepared to supply a second team from next year and soon after that we entered into discussions with Sauber,” said Theissen.

“Originally we were talking with Red Bull as well, but now it is only Sauber.
We are discussing the situation and I would expect us to do that within June, probably to have a decision on what to do by the end of June.”

But Theissen confirmed they do not plan on running two different designs with the two teams, if they secure a deal with Sauber, and said that both teams will initially receive the same specification engines.

“We will try to avoid two different engine design specs, but you might race more adventurous things not at the same time with all the cars you have on the grid,” he said. “But that would always happen.”—Sapa-AFP

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