BMW has committed to a return to endurance racing, but it will not return to Formula 1.
That’s despite its big rival in Mercedes-Benz establishing itself as competition on the grid, and Audi preparing to join in 2026 alongside automotive giants such as Ford and Honda.
Instead of Formula 1, BMW has set its sights on the endurance success of the World Endurance Championship (WEC) and the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA).
That includes a tilt at the Le Mans crown with the M Hybrid V8, 25 years after winning the event with the V12 LMR.
“The reason for doing the WEC and IMSA is, we already drive with a hybrid drive,” said BMW M boss Frank van Meel. Car Expert.
The M Hybrid V8 pictured above packs a V8 engine that revs up the flames, but is also capable of driving at pit speeds on electric power alone. Formula 1 cars, on the other hand, use their electric motors in a very different way.
“Formula 1 is planning I think from 2026 or 2027 onwards, but they are still working on the rules, so that for us is too late,” he said.
The M Hybrid V8 is powered by a V8 engine, which paired with a hybrid system is allowed to put out a total of 500kW, although that may change based on how regulators want to balance performance between competitors.
According to class rules, the hybrid prototype has a minimum weight of 1030kg, uses a 50kW Bosch hybrid system and Williams Advanced Engineering battery pack, and an Xtrac transmission. Under the skin, the M Hybrid was built in collaboration with motorsport specialist Dallara.
Under IMSA GTP rules, the M Hybrid will be rear-wheel drive. The car it will compete with at Le Mans, a BMW to confirm entry, has been built using different interpretations of the same rules.
This hybrid hypercar racing class was jointly conceived by IMSA, the FIA and the ACO so that hybrid hypercar prototypes could participate in the North American IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship, as well as the FIA World Endurance Championship.
This means that racers can not only enter and race in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the United States, but can also race in the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Along with Formula 1’s hybrid rules, Mr van Meel pointed to the lack of a road category as an obstacle.
“With the V8 hybrid, we try and use things in motorsport that we can also bring into a series production car. With Formula 1 that is almost impossible,” he said.
“We come from touring car racing, the 3.0 CSL and the M1, so our history and heritage is to take something from racing and put it in a series production car. With Formula 1 it’s too far, and it’s too slow.”
BMW was the last part of the Formula 1 grid in 2009 in partnership with Sauber.