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. Talk about a shock story breaking across the newswire……

    I hope that if Honda dose indeed pull the plug, someone will jump in and operate the team for next season. That being said, I consider it highly unlikley, but will still hope for the best. Firstly, my thoughts are with the staff and employees who will be affected by this decision- best to them if some or all do find themselves out of work because of this.

    I believe linking Toyota and Renault to this may be a bit different, as those teams are well-sponsored and Renault in particular have had recent success and have a top driver in their ranks. Still, at times like this it is the bottom line that makes sense, and it would not entirely suprise me to see one of the other manufacturer-based teams pull out.

    The Limit- To be honest, I do believe that M-B, BMW, and Ferrari are doing better than the mainstream automakers. While I have no hard numbers to base this on, wealthy people will always want to upgrade and trade in for a new ride, and I would expect that these carmakers are not in as bad of shape as the ones who seel to mainstreamers such as myself.

    Chris- Not to nitpick at a time like this, but with Rubens having come in third at Silverstone, woulden’t the medal have been a bronze?

  2. Nick Fry said in an interview on GMTV this morning that the team have had 3 serious offers from potential buyers in the past 12 hours.

  3. Nick Fry said in an interview on GMTV this morning that the team have had 3 serious offers from potential buyers in the past 12 hours.

    I don’t doubt that there might be people interested, but actually taking the plunge is different. There was “interest” in Aguri, “interest” in STR which has not manifested itself very much so far.

    Someone might buy them, but to run as a customer-type team. I think it highly unlikely someone is going to buy them to run as a manufacturer. And I think they might go through a Jordan-Midland-Spyker-Force India like period of a different buyer every season for a bit.

  4. Red Bull bought Jaguar for one dollar.
    Anyone interested in going halves??

    Team F1Fanatic!

  5. I was shocked when I saw this story as it seemed to come out of the blue. Only last week they were testing drivers for next season so this decision must of come about very quickly. It is another example of the global economic conditions that such a big event could happen so suddenly.

    Although this must bring into question the future of other teams there are differences between Honda and the other teams.

    For the past two years because of the Earth Dream concept the team have not had much sponsorship so while the team still seemed to have a top budget from reports more of it had to come from Honda than normal.

    Also the fact that for the last two season the have been down at the bottom of the championship would have made it is easier to pull the plug than if they had a been winning races or had a real chance of a championship in the next few years.

    Although Car companies may say F1 is about R&D the money spent can more easily be justified as advertising, and if Honda were spending more than others yet still at the back it shouldn’t have surprised me that they reconsidered their future in F1.

  6. In current economic atmosphere, no auto manufacturer can justify employee layoffs in name of improving operational effectiveness on one hand spending Millions and Billions of Dollars in Sports Sponsorship.

    Honda’s involvement in F1 didn’t provide much return from success point anyways …

    Its time for Nick to take dig dip into his pockets and come up with the monies, if he is that serious about racing and F1 ;)

  7. Thanks for your various information, i am into the financial sector and reading blogs like yours does help get a better understanding on what is happening in the world.

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