BMW could make F1 comeback – Ecclestone

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Bernie Ecclestone believes BMW could make a return to F1 in the near future as Honda are doing.

Ecclestone told City AM newspaper he would be “surprised” if BMW did not revive their Formula One effort.

“I think they could come in,” he added. “The amount of money they spent was not significant in the grand scheme of things. It makes sense for them to return.”

BMW supplied engines to Ecclestone’s Brabham team from 1982 to 1987, during which time Nelson Piquet won the drivers’ championship.

The German manufacturer returned to F1 with Williams in 2000 but split with them after six years. They took over the Sauber team in 2006 and made rapid progress, winning the Canadian Grand Prix in 2008. BMW also gave Sebastian Vettel his F1 debut at Indianapolis in 2007, substituting for the injured Robert Kubica.

But the following season was a disaster and BMW quit the sport at the end of the year, handing control of their team back to Peter Sauber.

Since scrapping their F1 programme BMW has concentrated its efforts on road car-based competition. It entered Germany’s popular DTM touring car series last year and won the constructors’ championship at its first attempt while Bruno Spengler scooped the drivers’ title. BMW signed ex-Marussia F1 driver Timo Glock to its DTM team earlier this year.

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”