Will a buyer be found for Honda? (Poll)

David Richards has been tipped to return to Honda

David Richards has been tipped to return to Honda

Almost two weeks have passed since Honda made the shock announcement it was selling its F1 team. The deadline for what Honda calls a ‘credible’ buyer to be identified is a little over two weeks away. Will one be found?

Will Honda's cars be on the grid at the 2009 Australian Grand Prix?

  • Yes (50%)
  • No (39%)
  • Don't know (11%)

Total Voters: 808

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Shortly after the news of Honda’s F1 withdrawal team manager Nick Fry claimed he had serious offers from three different parties.

It’s not clear who the three are but one of them is believed to be David Richards who preceded Fry in his job and led BAR (before it became Honda) to second in the 2004 constructors’ championship. Richards is the boss of Prodrive, and was set to bring the company into F1 this year before the FIA’s attempts to secure the legalisation of customer cars fell through.

Richards has been linked to a takeover with backing from Dubai Investment Capital (who attempted to purchase Super Aguri earlier this year) and Formula 3 boss Trevor Carlin. Richards earlier spoke of F1’s need to severely cut costs and since then the FIA has confirmed wide-reaching new regulations to make major savings.

Will the promise of much cheaper running costs tempt Richards into taking on Honda? What of the rumoured other two ‘serious’ buyers? Will F1 be down to an 18-car grid in 2009?

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36 comments on Will a buyer be found for Honda? (Poll)

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  1. I voted ‘Don’t know’, because I’m hopeful Honda will be bought, but I somehow doubt it will.

    > … the FIA’s attempts to secure the legalisation
    > of customer cars dell through.
    Should of course be ‘fell through’. :)

  2. today news mentioned also GP2’s ART team, while Citroen/Peugeot allegedly denied they are thinking about F1

    someone will take over and I hope (and believe) it will not be a manufacturer

  3. Likewise to Lustigson, I voted don’t know – I hope they will be, but it’s doubtful merely from the lack of reported progress.

    If I could afford the few hundred million running costs for the season I’d gladly buy the outfit!

  4. I wonder whether Honda’s timing has had an impact on its chances of getting a sale done before the end of the year.

    The announcement wasn’t even widely rumoured until a few hours before it was made. Even if Honda can be bought for a nominal sum, sorting out an operating budget in time isn’t going to be easy. I doubt ART, Carlin or even Prodrive could lay their hands on the money quickly. DIC would have the money but not the expertise.

    I’m keeping everything crossed that we get an announcement in the next week.

  5. ajokay said on 16th December 2008, 8:58

    To see the potential they have there at that team, someone would be silly not to buy them, especially seeing as the up front initial down payment is only $1. yes there are the monumental fees that Bernie asks for, but to get the actual team for next-to-nothing is a bargain.

    I hope someone does, at least.

  6. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 16th December 2008, 9:20

    Richards’ Prodrive-run Subaru team has just quit the World Rally Championship. I suppose you could read that one of two ways for this discussion:

    1. Prodrive can’t afford to go motor racing right now
    2. They’re sacrificing the rally effort to get into F1

    What do we think?

  7. That’s not too surprising, Keith. Although quite a step for Prodrive. Afteral, they’ve been in WRC since 1990.

    Sébastien Loeb mentioned some time last year that he would consider quitting WRC if the S2000 rules would be voted through.

    Maybe Prodrive and PSA Peugeot Citroën will ally and run Button and Loeb in a Honda-Ferrari.

    (Off-topic: since the Lola-designed Honda was aptly named ‘Hondola’, what would a Honda-designed, Ferrari-engined Peugeot/Citroën be called? Peugeondari?)

  8. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 16th December 2008, 9:35

    Actually it seems the pull-out was Subaru’s decision.

  9. winterbear said on 16th December 2008, 9:37

    I just cant believe one of the Korean auto makers would not love to be in F1. They are trying to market their cars world wide and they have big credibility issues. I would think that they need the prestige boost that F1 would give them.

    But I never hear of them being interested at all. hmm…

  10. bernification said on 16th December 2008, 9:43

    I voted no.

    The sad truth is that it takes time and lots of money to get a team up and running, and given the current economic climate (that is probably going to worsen before it gets better), I just can’t see anyone willing to speculate that kind of money in (what has been) an under-performing team.

    It would be fantastic if Dave Richards and Prodrive could get the finance together, as he has the track record (sorry- too early for puns, I know) that could make the difference in getting investors behind him.
    Just if he has designs on the team, he’s keeping awfully quite about it.

  11. Subaru have just pulled out of WRC… Dave Richards’ Prodrive ran the team… I guess they’ll be looking for something else to do now? :)

  12. Keith – In some ways, Subaru’s WRC pull out is similar to Honda’s exit from F1.

    Both companies had previously been successful at the top flight of their chosen branches of motorsport but had struggled for form in recent years. Both appeared to be in a position to make a step forward – not that I’m a rallying expert but I understand that the new Subaru had considerable potential. Both teams also effectively ran without external backers following the banning of tobacco sponsorship – in fact both were sponsored by BAT brands (Lucky Strike and 555).

    In any event, it appears that both companies found it difficult to justify a significant investment for little return against a background of falling sales.

  13. Mussolini's pet cat said on 16th December 2008, 10:17

    where’s the ‘bloody hope so’ option?

  14. Journeyer said on 16th December 2008, 10:31

    David Richards said that Prodrive will be back in 2010, but probably not for 2009. With Suzuki also dropping out, that leads Citroen and Ford. It seems WRC might be in even deeper trouble than F1. :O

    As for Richards, given his recommitment to the WRC, I’m now 50-50 on his chances to run New Tyrrell (for indeed, Honda’s current franchise can trace some of its roots back to Tyrrell). He has too many other problems to deal with.

  15. I am surprised that nobody in the media has yet cited the correlating problems with the WRC, with only two manufacturers (Ford – close to bankruptcy themselves, and Citroen) remaining.

    If Ford don’t receive a bailout from the US government (which is looking unlikely), then the WRC will be in bigger trouble than F1.

    F1 has 50 times the TV audience of F1 (54 billion vs 860 million, cumulative). With F1 now stripping budgets back to a fraction of what they were this year and last, it makes more financial sense for a manufacturer or an organization like Prodrive to take on F1, considering the much greater net return.

    Richards said of the exit of Subaru that Prodrive wont be laying anybody off, but rather allocating those resources to other parts of the company. So this might be a sign that they are readying an F1 team.

    But, he also said that he expects Prodrive to continue its involvement in WRC, so they might just be taking a single year off on the sidelines (they are a supplier to other teams as well).

    As for financing, the Abu Dhabi group turned around very quickly to purchase Manchester City. Apparently the deal was done in just a few days, and it all took place on the last day of the transfer window (right after buying the team, they made a dozen or so offers for players, with only 3-4 hours to go – they bought two players and spent 50M pounds+ in those few hours). So I don’t doubt that the UAE or Arab based investment groups can come in and finance an F1 team in time for the 2009 season, they actually have plenty of time.

    Also, Honda have pledged to finance the team through the offseason, and the purchase price will probably be a fraction of the value of the net assets. FOM don’t collect fees when there is a change of control in a team, they just need the $40M pound deposit at the beginning of the season, which is what all teams pay.

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