Speculation around Honda’s F1 future (Update: Honda to sell team or quit)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Is Honda planning to pull the plug on its F1 team?
Is Honda planning to pull the plug on its F1 team?

Pitpass and GrandPrix.com are questioning the future of Honda’s F1 team and suggesting it could be sold or pulled out of F1.

Is this just speculation during a slow time for Formula 1 or is Honda about to become F1’s first victim of the financial downturn?

Grandprix.com had previously downplayed stories about Honda’s $217m expenditure on F1 last year. It pointed out the reason Honda had spent so much more on F1 than its rival teams was because of its investment in Super Aguri.

Honda ceased supporting Super Aguri earlier this year. Yesterday we learned it had cancelled an expensive media lunch and much-criticised designer Shuhei Nakamoto had left.

Like almost every other car manufacturer on the plant, Honda is suffering the effects of the global financial downturn. Two weeks ago it announced it would close its plant in Swindon for two months next year. Its US sales have fallen by almost a third.

Honda have fallen into a slump since Jenson Button scored the team’s first F1 win at the Hungaroring in 2006. After a disastrous 2007 Nick Fry hired Ross Brawn to turn the team’s fortunes around. Although 2008 has seen little improvement the team is believed to have focussed its efforts on its 2009 car in order to take advantage of next year’s swingeing rules changes. Has that gamble worked against it in the prevailing financial climate?

The loss of another team could reduce the F1 entry to nine teams and 18 cars. That is understood to be below the minimum number of cars F1 is contractually required to bring to each round, raising the possibility of some teams being asked to field three cars.

However it’s impossible to say anything for certain about the Honda’s future or its consequences for F1. I hope the reports are untrue, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for further details. Please post anything else you find below.

Update: Pitpass claims the workforce were told tonight that Honda will not be competing in F1 next year and the team is to be put up for sale.

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67 comments on “Speculation around Honda’s F1 future (Update: Honda to sell team or quit)”

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  1. Grandprix.com reckon they’re waiting for Japan to wake up in a few hours to hear any announcement. I personally wouldn’t be surprised to hear Honda pull the plug – after all, F1 is a slightly unnecessary expenditure when times are rough. That doesn’t mean I condone willy-nilly entering (play during the good times, but don’t in the bad) but it does mean I understand that Honda may have looked at their expenses and decided that after several years of only little success, maybe it is time. Although I always thought Toyota would be the first.

    I guess we’ll have to wait and see what comes of this through the night and into tomorrow.

  2. Mmm… two teams with 3 cars? Ferrari, McLaren or Bimmer. Now all of a sudden the crazy spaniards can talk again of Alonso going to Ferrari ;)

    Too bad for Honda to pull a Ford.

  3. HounslowBusGarage
    4th December 2008, 19:57

    Problem is that Honda could only be the first.
    I always though there was a bit of tension between Honda and Toyota; neither wanting to be the first to throw in the towel.
    If Toyota called it a day as well – in a few months time of course – would four teams have to run three cars? And how exactly would Bernie enforce that?

  4. Aah, poor Bruno. He’ll have to actually earn a seat now.

  5. Who could blame Honda if it has decided to pull out? The last two years have been absolutely dire and the whole Super Aguri project can only have been a distraction to the team’s senior management. But Super Aguri was only the latest in a long line of Honda’s mistakes, going back to its days as BAR.

    The team has needed real leadership from an experienced F1 person for some time. Now it has Ross Brawn and things should get better. F1 used to be about star designers – Gordon Murray, Adrian Newey, John Barnard, et al – who virtually designed whole F1 cars single handed. Now that F1 teams are so big, it’s much more about having the right people using the right facilities in the right way and bringing it all together seamlessly. McLaren and Ferrari currently do that very very well.

    Ross Brawn could be the man to do that for Honda, but it’s an awfully big ask in a relatively short time. Hopefully, Honda’s board will hold off making any decision about the company’s F1 future until the effect of having Brawn becomes clear.

    If it can’t wait and pulls out now that’d be a pity – the Japanese company can look back on its previous achievements with a great deal of pride. Leaving F1 at the end of a dismal season will not be the way Honda wants to depart.

  6. Good job Bernie. You got the BIG motor money but you blew to bits our sport.

    first Honda – then Toyota – then Renault – then Mercedes – rock on RedBull and Williams (who know the score) and Ferrari (who have to be there)

    ….. and just who the hell is gong to want Torro Rosso?

    Over the past decade or so they wiped out Jordan, Arrows, Stewart, Minardi, Osella, Benneton and Tyrell….. genius.


  8. Oh yes beamer….. no chance….. one year then thats that.

  9. Thay Say:

    Honda is expected to make a formal announcement on its future in Formula One on Friday.

    However, Sky News understands the company is pulling out of the sport with immediate effect.

    Honda’s 750-strong staff heard the news at a meeting.

    They were told that unless a buyer could be found by the end of December, the team would be wound up and not compete in next year’s Championship.

    Those employees include British driver Jenson Button and Ross Brawn, the man behind Michael Schumacher’s success at Ferrari.

    Down to 18 on the grid…a sad situation for the sport to be in on the brink of what looks like such an exciting new era :-(

  10. Well the BBC can always repeat ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ :)

  11. James Allen is reporting Honda pulling out as a certainty, with an announcement tomorrow morning. 18 car grid? And it could even be less? Oh dear.

  12. dear oh dear… credit crunch indeed…

  13. bad news for the sport

  14. James Allen on Honda:

    The news is a major shock, because Honda is one of the most profitable of the car makers currently engaged in F1.

    If they can make this decision, so can the others.

  15. Terrible news but certainly it would be good news as bernie’s company is contracted is it not to supply a minimum of 20 cars for the grid?
    That would leave it open for the rest of the manufacturers to opt out and set up a new F1 by another name and wit the old circuits in america/canada etc to tell him and the fia to get lost – sorry living in hope there

  16. All i will say is look at the current headlines of the worst possible outcome for the team and you will not be suprised in a few hours time. Not good news for over 600 people in the current employment market.

  17. Has anyone ever even bought a works team in F1 history? It just doesn’t happen, does it? Manufacturers have taken over private teams, but not each other. And I can’t see a privateer popping up.

  18. Good night sweet prince.

  19. Red Bull took over Jaguar from Ford, and i would imagine due to the loyal traditions of the Japanese people to their workforces a deal would be brokered where the plant would be given away for a nominal pound fee to anyone who could guarantee finance to keep it open for a 3 – 5 year period.

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