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)

  1. wild guess: tata :)

  2. Robert McKay said on 16th December 2008, 13:08

    I’ll be amazed if Subaru’s pull out of WRC is related to Prodrive entering F1.

    I suspect no buyer will be found.

    It’ll be interesting to see if Honda extend the deadline once or twice or if the timeline they’ve suggested really is the deadline.

    The parallels with F1 and WRC are interesting though.

  3. Alex Cooper said on 16th December 2008, 13:17

    I voted no.

    It’s not a great advert for an F1 team is it? Honda: “Our F1 team costs us far too much to run. Would you like to buy it off us? You can have it for a dollar? Please?”

    Richards and Carlin have been sniffing around F1 for a while but never made that commitment. Why would you buy a team this year when you can wait for the series to cost less in 2010?

  4. Were the Subby and Suzuki WRC exits due to economics or the pending rules changes?

    If no one picks up the Honda gifting of an entire team then we are all more deeply into a financial depression than any of us realizes.

  5. beneboy said on 16th December 2008, 13:37

    Don’t Know.

    I’d like them to be bought and as ajokay said, they’ve got plenty of potential, especially considering how early they started developing the new regulation car.

    You just never know what’s happening with deals like this, how many knew Honda were going to pull out before the announcement was made ?

  6. Journeyer said on 16th December 2008, 14:38

    Richards and Carlin have been sniffing around F1 for a while but never made that commitment. Why would you buy a team this year when you can wait for the series to cost less in 2010?

    Because you save yourself the trouble of paying 40 million to start a team from scratch. That’s the upside there, and I think Prodrive is really considering it. But the Subaru pullout is a big stumbling block for them.

  7. @ Journeyer
    > 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

    At least WRC has customer cars. ;)

    @ Alex Cooper
    > Why would you buy a team this year when you can
    > wait for the series to cost less in 2010?

    Because setting up an entirely new team is way more expensive than buying a current one, albeit with (too) much personnel.

  8. Adrian said on 16th December 2008, 15:48

    David Richards isn’t stupid, I’m sure he sees the potential in the (ex) HondaF1 setup. However, if he seems to keen then it would lessen his bargaining power. Perhaps he’s waiting until the very last minute and will push for Honda to supply engines or something like that.

    Aside from that speculation, you wouldn’t go out and make a multi-million dollar commitment without first going over the books, reviewing the team etc…

    I actually think the first official confirmation we’ll get of a buyer is once the deal is done – these things aren’t best served by being carried out in the media…

    I think it will be interesting to see how far Honda are willing to go to unload the team though, especially if the reports that if they fail to find a buyer they’ll still have to pay out on cancelled contracts etc are true….

  9. Good post, Adrian. Any potential buyer knows that Honda will have to spend an extra 150 million dollars to dismantle the team. So they might want to persuade Honda to pay, say, 100 million, to take the team off their hands. Lessens the burden for the new owner quite a bit.

  10. the limit said on 16th December 2008, 17:59

    David Richards is without question one of the best guys out there to take the former Honda team forward, he knows the playing field better than most and his known to those inside of the team.
    The WRC decision by Subaru may well prove to be a good indication. Now would be the ideal opportunity for Richards and Prodrive to make the jump, if they do not, then they are out of it all together.
    Nobody has touched on how much money was borrowed, if any, by Honda to run their team? I am concerned that there maybe some factors hidden from us that we do not know about.

  11. “Nobody has touched on how much money was borrowed, if any, by Honda to run their team?”

    I’d wager all of the facilities are mortgaged to the teeth, and based on Honda’s solid corporate credit rating it was the smart way to finance.

    I’d have to believe any takeover would involve Honda eating their loan liabilities to a large if not total degree.

  12. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 16th December 2008, 20:09

    A lot more people are voting ‘yes’ than I expected – I had an 80% ‘no’ vote in mind. You’re all much more optimistic than me!

  13. Everything I have read about buyers has been super optimistic because we want the team to stay, especially the way otherwise rational people who were desperately searching for a reason PSA might want the team. The team is probably worth negative £300 million over the course of one season, it is nothing but a liability. If you wanted to run an F1 team with yearly costs of £50 million and 100 personnel (the goal of the cost cutting measures), would you start by buying a team that costs £200 million a year to run and has 600 personnel?

  14. If you wanted to run an F1 team with yearly costs of £50 million and 100 personnel (the goal of the cost cutting measures), would you start by buying a team that costs £200 million a year to run and has 600 personnel?

    True, but then again, you may not have the chance to ‘buy’ a team like Honda, in the state that it’s in currently holding Button and Brawn and a supposedly good 2009 car. Their past 2 seasons haven’t exactly been something to list as “achievements” (other than bad car, bad car, bad car), but the ingredients are there for a good entry shot into F1.

    When teams can’t sell, they’ll be sold off bit by bit. And I’d imagine starting your own team from the ground up would be even more expensive.

    On one side of the coin, he team for sale is not a fleeting Minardi/Spyker/Midland/Jordan/Force India/etc is from a credible manufacturer who have already done the ground work (high initial costs) and have the people to do the job right. On the other side of the coin, the team for sale is a big global car manufacturer who’s had to call it quits at this stage of the game – if they had to bail, it doesn’t inspire confidence on more than several levels for any potential buyer.

  15. Great discussion guys!

    I voted “Don’t Know” because there is still time for the deal top happen, but obviously each passing day further reduces the likleyhood, at least from what we on the outside can see.

    If Richards (or anyone else working with him) wants to get into F1, this is the perfect chance. Still, we all know that finances and politics trumps common sense in F1 all too often, so we can only stay tuned on this topic….

    Winterbear- There has been some real discussion about one of the Korean carmakers entering F1 in the past year or so, but nothing positive from any of them yet. After all, do you think Bernie is putting a Grand Prix in South Korea in a few years for nothing?

    Nik- Ford is in better shape than both GM and Chrysler, and was not asking for funding in the bailout bill that was defeated in the Senate last week. However, if the marketcontinues to go downhill or even just stay flat, they could be in deeper water than the present situation.

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