BMW motorsport director Mario Theissen: retirement after 34 years

BMW motorsport director Mario Theissen retires. The 59-year-old can look back on 34 years active retirement on his last day of work. High point in his career were the twelve years of motor racing.

06/30/2011 Michael Schmidt

As one comes from the Eifel to BMW? The young engineer Dr. Mario Theissen wrote in 1977 ten applications per year. He could have gone to Volkswagen to Mercedes or just to BMW. Only at Mercedes, the starting salary would have been as low as in Munich. And BMW was not then as suspects a global company, but "an unpretentious Bavarian company". But with BMW the task attracted. "They offered me the job of a calculation engineer at. At that time the department consisted of only two people and was just being set up. They already had to do stupid if one would it not get stuck."

As a latecomer to motorsport

Calculation engineers were not considered particularly high among the colleagues from the attempt. "What happens during the charge cycle, sampled the better on the test bench from. I had therefore always first compete in the men from the trial with my calculations." For motor sport, the young Theissen at that time was interested only as a fan. It was not until 22 years later he came so professionally connected. "The spark was always there, but he has only fired when then-CEO Dr. Milberg asked me in the spring of 1999, if I wanted to conduct one project together with Gerhard Berger, our formula."

Theissen said first and see. "Because a double top in only one work of ten cases." The Board did not give up, and so it came to the first meeting with his designated partner Berger. Because the ice was broken. "We got along well right away. Our expertise complemented each other perfectly. Gerhard had its network in motorsport, I did. It was at BMW just the one out of ten cases in which the dual leadership works." In retrospect, the angehehende retiree says: "The four years Gerhard were the most beautiful."

Almost twice world champion

In the ten years in Formula 1, BMW had twice the chance of winning the title. 2003 as engine partners of Williams, in 2008 with his own team. "We have lost the chances for different reasons. In 2008, it was simply that Ferrari and McLaren had the most staying power." Theissen does not see it as an unfinished task: "We have not reached the ultimate goal, but I have experienced many successes in my twelve years Motorsport My need for positive memories was covered.."

The criticism of Robert Kubica that BMW had 2,008 gambled the world title because it had not raised the stakes, Theissen holds even three years after that unjustified. "The team wanted the title as well as Robert We have in the development of 2008 cars not abated, on the contrary. the aerodynamics department has just delivered many new developments as before. Unfortunately, we are so stepped on the spot. This weakness has then shown in the following year. the 2009 car was aerodynamically not competitive. "

From today's perspective says Theissen, that you should bring already had the merger with Sauber two years earlier. The marriage to Williams was more ill-fated 2004 of 2005. Whether it is because the English and German motorsport harmonize rare, thereafter, Theissen does not want to be pinned down. "There is not just a cultural difference of nations but also one of the companies. And he was serious in BMW and Williams. My experience with Williams is ambivalent. In the beginning, the Williams boys have very well helped to get into the lane. later there was already one or the other argument. " Still, it hurts to have to look at the decline of the traditional racing team from afar with: "It's always difficult to install professional management in an owner-managed company I hope Williams once again get the curve you belong to F1.. . "

LeMans victory is incomparable

What 2000 and some abdominal pain if the engines would keep up with the Australian GP ( "They had not previously managed a race distance") began, ended in 2009 with the surprising even for Theissen withdrawal statement. You would be loud Theissen anyway fallen, even if BMW would have won the world title of 2008. "The Group has provided mid-2009, the company's strategy to the test. And if we would have gone for the title in 2009, which would have changed nothing in the decision of the Executive Committee. They would have announced just not in July, but only at the end of the season."

therefore Theissen can not imagine that manufacturers such as BMW, Honda and Toyota enter immediately into motorsport after overcoming the economic crisis also. "They will not change their minds so quickly only because the crisis is back on abating. Those were fundamental decisions." "

The most beautiful experience took place on any Grand Prix circuit. "The most emotional moment was our victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It's not comparable to Formula 1. You're standing 24 hours on the box until a total of 40 hours on their feet and have to constantly expect something unexpected happens. and it usually does well. then when you win a race so, then picks up the mentally more with than a victory in formula 1, in which you think an hour later, again at the next race. "

The Konzernmensch Theissen landed in motorsport to a whole new world. "Motorsport can learn from the operation of the Group. Certain processes are transferable provided that you can always stay on the gas. In motorsport there is no diversions, no delays, no matrix organizations. Conversely, the company benefits from the sport. There is all happening much more intense. you will receive biweekly feedback, if what you did was good or bad. this is changing the way of thinking. all our electronics department remained on board and works in hybrid development. "

The Formula 1 season 2011 Theissen could follow only sporadically. As BMW Motorsport Director he was in the meantime on other locations on the road, as the 24 hour race at the Nurburgring last weekend. Nevertheless, the verdict is positive: "It has long been thought to produce more overtaking I think it's well done.."

No plan to retire

Every time Sebastian Vettel wins, the outgoing head of motorsport is reminded that he 2007 BMW could have signed recent world champion. However, Theissen was Vettel move in with Toro Rosso. A mistake? "It was a difficult decision. We had to hold the three options. Sebastian as a test driver to replace it with a clean slate for an experienced man in the cockpit in a phase in which we wanted to have success, or let him go to Toro Rosso. as painful as it was, I would make the decision today that again. "

In another way painful to Theissen reminiscent of Robert Kubica, who drove from 2006 to 2009 for the white and blue brand. The rally accident of Poland raises the question of whether this also could have been so in his BMW-time can happen. "I would have forbidden him driving around the rally," replies Theissen. "I can understand that it is fascinating for a racer to take part in a rally, but in such a case one must always consider what hangs on it. It is here not only to the career of a driver but behind a Formula 1 project are always well 700 employees. "

Senior managers of BMW retire at age 60. Dr. Mario Theissen already adopted a year earlier. Entry into the DTM he will experience only as a spectator. "This was discussed with my boss Klaus Draeger like that. If I had gone with 60, I would have had to do that after half a season DTM. That would have been little sense." On the question of how the first day will be like in retirement, Theissen has to fit: "I do not know, it is my goal to go without commitments from the company My last 34 years have been scheduled now i will start to look like... long it may go well without a solid plan. Some give me three days, others three months. I am confident that it will take longer. "