Q. Did the announcement shock you as much as everyone else, or did you have an inkling of what was going to happen?
Mario Theissen: It surprised me yes.
Q. When did you first know?
MT: After Hungary.
MT: Yes. One day before the official announcement.
Q. Had they not given you any warning that the team was under review?
MT: Well of course I knew that it was under review. We had an evaluation on board level the week before. But then the board said, 'We will take our time to come to a decision'.
Q. So you made a presentation?
MT: We had an overall review of the project. Sporting side... everything.
Q. How different would it have been if you had been winning races this year?
MT: I think not too much different, because the underlying theme was that the board has said there was a shift in the corporate strategy. This is something which happens not from one day to another. It's a long-term issue. A continuous move. And then there are apparently other instant events which trigger such a decision and in this case it has been the obligation to sign up (to the Concorde Agreement) for three more years, under a certain environment and that was basically the culmination.
Q. So it really boils down to the timing of the Concorde Agreement?
MT: It triggered the decision.
Q. How long has the team got to sort itself out?
MT: I don't know about the timing. We would appreciate to get as much time as possible because you can imagine it is not easy. It is our first priority now, to keep the team up and running under new ownership and that is something which you cannot sort out within a few days.
Q. But if you haven't got an owner, and you haven't got a declared engine, and the deadline has passed for the new teams, then if you are not the 13th team then it is curtains isn't it?
MT: We have signed up for next year, on Monday.
Q. Was the entry ever withdrawn officially?
MT: Not from our side but there was an agreement between all the teams and the FIA that after the signature of the Concorde Agreement, there would be a new entry form and all the entries would be renewed.
Q. Presumably the team is now competing against other would-be teams for that 13th slot so...
MT: We are now waiting for the decision. We have applied and it is for the FIA now to decide if we are accepted.
Q. Did you have to say what engine you'd use, or can that be left blank?
MT: We did not have to show an engine supply contract but we have given some indication. We are talking to some engine manufacturers and there would be a solution.
Q. When you say we does that suggest that you may stay on with the team rather than go to BMW?
MT: That's still open. I'm not thinking about it. The first priority is to secure the future of the team in my current role with the team. And then after the season we can see what will happen to me.
Q. How confident that are you that you can secure something?
MT: It's not easy but there are opportunities. There are interested investors, apparently a wide spectrum from just an interested question up to a structured concept with a profound business plan. And we are currently evaluating these.
Q. What sort of form will that take?
MT: It would certainly follow the resource restriction agreement worked out by the FOTA teams and it would probably not be at the upper end of the spectrum so it would probably need to shrink in terms of resources. Certainly more than the forecast cap would request.
Q. If you do get that slot, how many jobs are likely to be lost?
MT: They have to come down now anyway, and I cannot say now how far it would go. It would depend on who steps in and what is the concept of this investor.
Q. You have put so much in, you must feel in your heart that there is a way forward for you to do something. The goal of winning a championship must still drive you on?
MT: I would say there is no room for thoughts like this now. We are in a difficult situation, we want to make the best out of it. Still we have seven races to go, we can achieve and McLaren has shown in Hungary what is possible. We are still pushing even harder than before and then we will see what the future brings.
Q. But F1 will be unfinished business for you?
MT: Yes it is unfinished business, in the way that we haven't won the championship. We have achieved a lot but not the ultimate step.
Q. Under what name did you submit your entry for next season/
MT: Under the current name of the team. But it is clear that the team would have to be renamed when a new investor steps in.
Q. What are the things that you need in place for the FIA to accept your bid?
MT: Well under the new Concorde Agreement that is a fairly straightforward process and shouldn't create a problem.
Q. How far down the line are you in securing new investors?
MT: Well fortunately I'm not working on my own, I am doing it together with Peter. He is trying very hard to use his connections and he is talking to people. We are doing it jointly. I cannot tell you anything about the on-going negotiations, as I have said there are several interested parties, and we are just about to evaluate the individual proposals.
Q. Over the years there has been a strong Malaysian involvement in the team, are they indicating they would stick with the team, keep on supporting it?
MT: That's part of our negotiations we are talking to them.
Q. How open have the BMW board been to take-over bids or do they simply want to wash their hands of it and get out?
MT: No. It clearly is BMW's first priority to keep the team going.
Q. Are you slightly disillusioned with BMW and the way this has all happened?
MT: You might ask me this question again a few months from now. It all depends on what we are able to pull off now.
Q. Is BMW being unrealistic in their expectations of what they can sell the team for?
MT: Well that as well can only be answered after a deal has been concluded or has not been possible.
Q. That's obviously what Peter Sauber was saying a couple of weeks ago.
MT: Yes the first attempt didn't work. That's all I can say and we will see if it is realistic.
Q. But if they had been a little bit more generous right at the beginning, would you have done a deal?
MT: It would have been easier yes. But that is how business is, it's always parties of different interests and then you have to try and get together.
Q. Because what they have got to sell now is, in theory, worth a lot less without the entry?
MT: Well that depends on the proposal we can make to the other teams and the FIA, obviously the team will need the acceptance of all the other parties, support has been indicated by FOTA as well as by FOM, so I am not too pessimistic. But we need to find someone to really run the team.
And then on the evaluation, a decision from the board side, I am not disillusioned because when we started the project 10 years ago, it has always been clear to me that a company like BMW will review all its activities on an annual basis. And I think we have had a great time over 10 years and that's a lot. It's been an exciting time and good achievement, good for BMW, good for the people. And even if we don't find a solution to continue as a team I wouldn't be disillusioned.
Q. There has been talk of BMW potentially going into DTM?
MT: No that is not from our side. What we have said is that we will evaluate alternative projects for the future in the touring car and GT area. And apparently DTM is on GT level, so you can think about something and we would be open to that. But not DTM in its current form. Some kind of GT racing might be attractive to us if the format is right, if the car can be used in several series, and things like this.
Q. BMW has also been linked to the WRC?
MT: First time I've heard about it.
Q. Do you believe the decision would be the same if the results were better than last year?
MT: There were several factors. The dominant factor is the longterm corporate strategy. That will in some way direct all the projects, then the immediate trigger for such a decision might be something totally different like sporting performance, financial effort. But in this case it was the request to commit to three years at a certain date. And that triggered the decision.