From the coming 2010 season BMW will concentrate on running its Formula BMW Europe and Formula BMW Pacific series. Despite challenging economic conditions in 2009, the European Formula BMW series continued to maintain 26-strong grids in its second season. Formula BMW Pacific has also benefited from integration of Formula BMW into the supporting bills of Formula One Grands Prix, as attested to by a steadily increasing number of competitors.
However, Formula BMW Americas will bid the international motor racing calendar farewell after the 2009 season finale at Mosport (CA) on 30th August
. Since 2004 over 110 drivers have competed for points and victories in the series. In the current economic conditions it has proven difficult to establish the young driver programme as successfully on American soil as managed by its sister series in their respective regions. Taken in combination with the – by comparison with Europe and Asia – vastly different motorsport infrastructures prevailing in the Americas, this led to the decision to cease promoting the series in future.
Two former Formula BMW drivers will, though, receive the opportunity of experiencing Formula One from the cockpit during the winter. During the three Young Driver Days planned by the BMW Sauber F1 Team for 1st to 3rd December at the Circuito de Jerez (ES), Alexander Rossi (US) and Esteban Gutiérrez (MX) will experience their first drives in a Formula One car.
“Despite having announced our exit from Formula One this week, we will honour our commitments to young drivers in Formula BMW,” says BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen. “Thus we are looking forward to granting another two Formula BMW graduates the opportunity of gathering experience in a Formula One car. Alexander Rossi earned the chance by winning the Formula BMW World Final last year, becoming the first US American to do so. Esteban Gutiérrez won the Rookie of the Year award in the 2007 Formula BMW Americas series, and won the overall championship in Formula BMW Europe last year against stiff opposition. In December both drivers will get to leave their mark in a Formula One test.”
Rossi is one of the United States’ great motor racing hopefuls. In his second season the 17-year-old won the 2008 Formula BMW Americas Championship after taking ten each race victories and pole positions. However, his biggest success came in the fourth Formula BMW World Final, held in Mexico City (MX), for which he was awarded the Formula One test opportunity with the BMW Sauber F1 Team.
In 2007 Gutiérrez made a successful debut in single-seater racing. In his first season he won the Rookie of the Year title. Last year the driver from Monterrey (MX) made the crossing to Europe to stamp his authority on the then-new Formula BMW Europe series. He succeeded in his mission by taking seven victories, 12 podium places and three pole positions, eventually clinching the overall title in a championship which saw seven of its eight events incorporated into Formula 1’s supporting programmes.