David Richards says F1 costs are still too high – and he’s not buying Honda

Rubens Barrichello in Honda's final Grand Prix at Brazil

Rubens Barrichello in Honda's final Grand Prix at Brazil

David Richards didn’t exactly say “I’m not buying Honda”, but he dropped a big hint today that he won’t be taking over the Brackley team in 2009:

The cost-cutting process that has been put in place has not yet seen its full benefit, and I don’t think it will be until 2010 that you will see those issues roll out properly. The teams have still got a burden of overhead that is unsustainable. So consequently, with the window of time for entry, I just question whether it is right at the moment.

FOTA and Max Mosley’s cost cutting talks continue as the search for a Honda buyer goes on.

Mosley and FOTA talk costs

Details emerged today of a letter sent from Max Mosley to FOTA president Luca di Montezemolo calling for deeper cuts in costs.

FOTA agreed at a meeting today on greater restrictions on aerodynamic testing and agreed on a transmission package to be made available from 2010 at a cost of ??1.5m per year.

But with some of these changes not taking effect until 2010 it seems Richards is still not prepared to commit to taking over Honda. So, who will?

Rumoured Honda buyers

According to Autosport Honda has received 30 expressions of interested and is seriously considering 12 different options. Nick Fry said:

Right at the start of this process Bernie Ecclestone said that he was 100% confident that we’d be on the grid in Melbourne, and I have to say that I wasn’t quite so sure where his confidence came from. But as we’ve gone through this process, my confidence based on what we’ve seen has increased – maybe not to 100%, but it’s pretty close.

There is inevitably much speculation about the potential buyers. Even Michael Schumacher has been linked to them with investment rumoured to be coming from Abu Dhabi if the seven times world champion puts his name to the team. Schumacher’s publicist denied the reports but Grandprix.com’s Joe Saward had this to say:

Schumacher’s PR people are denying the Honda story. I guess no-one told them the truth… It is real all right – but they have to find cash!

Conflicting aims?

But even as teams look for new ways to save money and Honda tries to find someone with enough cash to take over Honda, Max Mosley still seems confused about his goals. In his letter he expressed a desire to increase the use of moveable wings in F1, which are being introduced this year:

Using modern technology, moveable aero devices could be used to give a car more downforce and less drag whenever it was in turbulent air. This would produce wheel-to-wheel racing on all types of circuit. It would, however, require significant (possibly automatic) moveable aero devices.

The desirability of such an artificial means of improving the racing is doubtful. And surely pushing for further aerodynamic changes contradicts the teams’ goal of cutting costs by reducing aerodynamic development?

I’m all for better racing, but I’m not sure moveable aerodynamics is the way to achieve it – and certainly not if it compromises the imperative to cut costs.

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9 comments on David Richards says F1 costs are still too high – and he’s not buying Honda

  1. theRoswellite said on 8th January 2009, 20:09

    Sadly, the right choice.

    Too much volatility in all the economic aspects of such a deal. The purchaser needs to have an eye on the long term merits of being in the F1-Show, and have deep enough pockets to be unaffected by variable outside financial support….this should certainly limit the qualifying candidate pool!

    Keith, a side item, the FIA just mentioned possible support for a change in the regs to allow moveable aerodynamic devices. I’d enjoy reading some posts on the probable economic impact of such a rule change. What a great technical challenge and budget busting opportunity that would be.

  2. David Richards already has two grid slots open for him (unless his entry has become void?), so why wouldn’t he wait until 2010 to use them? The only reason I could see for him to jump in early with the Honda team is to get his hands on some of their technical staff and maybe the facility itself. Obviously there must be several techies that won’t be looked at after the last two tractors rolled out of there.

    Imagine Schumacher/Brawn back in action together. I also hear that Nigel Stepney’s available, Rory Byrne’s going fishing, and as for funding – Ralf’s got piles and piles of Yen sitting ’round, Malboro are up for no-branding and Shell might like to chuck in for a play-on-words team name “Shnell Schumacher F1″. A quick toy around with that damned McLaren-made ECU and voila! A winning team!

  3. Pingguest said on 8th January 2009, 22:24

    In my opinion cost reduction in Formula 1 is an illusion. If teams can’t spend their money on the best area, they’ll start spending it on the second best area. Teams have the budgets and hence the ability to spend an awful load of money. It has always been like that and will always be like that, until Max Mosley finally introduces a spec series. But that wouldn’t be Formula 1, would it?

  4. Alex Cooper said on 8th January 2009, 22:36

    I think Richards has done the right thing. If this expenditure were to put Prodrive in the wall, with the rest of the economic doom and gloom at the moment, he’d look very silly.

    As for Fry having the option of a dozen buyers (that he’s carefully whittled down from 30-odd) I don’t believe that for a second. Funny how he happens to say this just as the most likely buyer walks away from the table. Fry and Brawn have been talking up the value of the team to ridiculous levels since Honda took their cheque-book away.

  5. The Limit said on 9th January 2009, 2:18

    I must admit that I am disappointed about David Richards pulling out of buying the former Honda F1 team, but I do understand his reasons for doing this.
    When Honda announced a month ago that they were scrapping the team, many of us clung to the idea that the team could be salvaged and return for 2009 in a new guise. Richards, with his connections at Honda that stretched back many years, was always going to be one of the more fancied buyers.
    I am convinced, even now, that Richards is one of the best people out there to turn that team around. I am also convinced that Honda, in allowing Richards to leave in the first place, made a huge error that could have only contributed to their lack of form and eventual demise.
    When Super Aguri collapsed last year, many people publically criticised Honda. Nobody likes to see any F1 team, and its drivers, leave the sport.
    This year offered so much promise, especially in the respect of possibly giving Bruno Senna his first taste of Formula One, that one cannot help but feel disheartened. I really do think this team is dead and buried.

  6. It depends just what is on offer at ex-Honda though, doesn’t it? Is the team plus Ross Brawn a certainty? He has already said he might walk if a better offer came along, and also what certainty is there of getting the Ferrari engines? If that also depends on who is in charge, then these 12 preferred bidders might end up paying a lot for just an empty factory……

  7. What a shame. If a buyer is not found, I know its unrealistic but it would be nice for a team of R&D to be kept on to ready a car for 2010 when this crunch has subsided and the cost cutting has started to take effect. Fingers crossed something will come through. Wait a sec, Gerhard just got a nice big cheque from RedBull…

    Anyway I’m curious if Ross is looking at the standard Cosworth engine contract Max just signed. Surely this will be cheaper than a Ferrari package?

    • graham228221 said on 9th January 2009, 11:30

      there’s been no indication that anyone is going to take up the cosworth offer this year, and i think mosley said that if there’s not enough interest (3-4 teams) then it wouldn’t be available.

  8. Steven Roy said on 9th January 2009, 14:21

    This may explain why Richards and others have not bought into Honda. Fry is mounting his own bid and he is the guy every other bidder has to deal with.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/motorsport/formulaone/4177928/Nick-Fry-keen-to-become-big-wheel-at-Honda.html

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