Will Honda’s team race in 2009? (Poll)

Rumours linking Bruno Senna to a Honda rescue deal have been quashed

Rumours linking Bruno Senna to a Honda rescue deal have been quashed

In December we did a poll on whether The Team Formerly Known as Honda would participate in the 2009 F1 championship. Half of F1 Fanatic readers thought they would, but two months later are we more or less confident about the fate of F1′s tenth team?

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

  • Yes (51%)
  • No (37%)
  • Don't know (12%)

Total Voters: 1,221

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There has been a lot of development in the Honda saga since the last poll. First Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helu ruled himself out of buying Honda’s team.

David Richards has also publicly announced he is not buying them. Although his Prodrive outfit no longer have Subaru’s World Rally Championship effort to run they are tackling the Le Mans 24 Hours LMP1 class with Aston Martin instead.

Rumours last week suggested that a group of Brazilian sponsors including oil company Petrobras were poised to save the team and install Bruno Senna alongside Jenson Button. But Petrobras have now denied the claims as well.

New rumours have linked Richard Branson’s Virgin Group to the team. There has also been persistent speculation that a management buy-out led by team principal Nick Fry could happen.

On the positive side, Honda may be inclined to favour a sale as it would prevent them having to pay large sums in redundancy pay to the Brackley factory’s 700-plus employees. Mercedes has confirmed it is ready to supply engines to the team. But time is running out.

Do you think Honda will be on the grid at the first race of the season? Or will F1 be reduced to just 18 cars? Cast your vote above and leave a comment below.

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40 comments on Will Honda’s team race in 2009? (Poll)

  1. I voted no, although I hope I am wrong. When Honda first announced their withdrawal I was quite optimistic but as the days countdown to the Melbourne Grand Prix it looks less and less likely.

    Even though a few sites are reporting deals being close I won’t believe it until the cars are actually on the grid in Australia. The BBC article about the Virgin talks

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/7896784.stm

    it includes a quote from a source close to Branson who says “the entrepreneur had in the past been reluctant to get involved with F1, because he saw the sport as a “big black hole for money”. “
    I can easily believe this and I don’t think financially circumstances have changed enough for Virgin to buy a team especially in the current economic climate.

    Also it is not just a matter of finding a new owner before the first GP as they have to sign a deal for an engine (the BBC article says the deadline for the Mercedes engines expires in a few days) and redesign the car the new engine, and as DG pointed out they would still need to pass the FIA crash tests, how long does would this take?
    Then they won’t have had any testing at a time when with all the big rule changes and the in-season testing ban mean pre-season testing is more valuable than normal. If by some chance they do make the grid it will be at the back.

    Can anyone tell me if they miss the first few GP will they still be able to compete in later ones, as during the final days of Arrows I think I remember reading that if a team misses just one Grand Prix that is the end, which was why they turned up to some races to do a slow qualifying lap as that counted as competing.

  2. Clare msj said on 18th February 2009, 15:27

    I reckon they will make it, surely a definite no would have been announced by now if something wasnt brewing behind the scenes. It would be waaaay too late now if there wasnt any real interest. I really hope they do anyway!

    This Virgin rumour seems to be a relatively strong one at the minute, quite literally every news site seems to have it covered. If this rumour becomes reality my bets are on a Button/Sato pairing – i would certainly be happy with that!!

  3. i put no, but that was before i saw that honda had confirmed the virgin bid.

  4. i vote yes because otherwise ill be depressed. hope virgin comes through

  5. Bernification said on 18th February 2009, 16:54

    I really can’t see it.

    This would be a huge speculation for a poor, under performing team. Branson won’t put his money here.

    Brawn is the best future this team could have.

  6. Steven Roy said on 18th February 2009, 17:36

    I am absolutely certain that Honda will be on the grid in Melbourne. Mercedes may want a guarantee that they will be paid for the full year but that is only $7 million which is pocket change in F1 terms and in no way a show stopper.

    If the team was going to close it would have been announced by now. Fry and Brawn are trying to raise as much finance as they can up front and I have no doubt had the Branson bid not arrived we would have had some clear indictaion that the MBO was going ahead even with some financial assistance from Honda for year one. It makes a lot of financial sense to invest some of the money they would have had to pay to close the team down to keep it going. That way they may save 50% of the expenditure.

    Last night the usually very reliable Reuters put out a story saying that Branson had made a bid. It will no doubt take at least a couple of weeks while he completes the due diligence and Honda decide whether accepting the bid will allow them to save face etc.

    Either way the team will be on the grid in Melbourne and if Branson is in control it will complete the season. With Fry and Braw in charge it depends on their ability to raise sponsorship. Would you sponsor a team run by the guy who was dumb enough to run without it for two seasons?

  7. The Limit said on 18th February 2009, 20:10

    I am going to say yes. I finally think that now, if the Richard Branson rumours are true, things can finally progress. From what I have seen from Branson over the years, he is a man who richly values good publicity. Being in Formula One is certainly one of the greatest publicity boosts any enterprise can undertake, and a likeminded man has already achieved it.
    Mallya of Force India has an airline and an F1 race team. Anything is possible, but time is now vitally
    important. This deal, if its a reality, has to be done within the next week or so.
    Also, the money Honda would have to pay the 700 workers at Brackley may also prove a factor. No company, no matter how big, likes to pay out for things like that. Its a long shot, but you’ve got to believe.

  8. Adrian said on 18th February 2009, 20:22

    I don’t know if this counts for anything, but I drove past the Brackley factory today and the Team Transporters were moving around (yes I was sad enough to stop at the side of the road and look to see if I could see anything..!!). Pitpass is also reporting that team transporters were spotted on the road to Dover…

    Then again, it could just be that Nick Fry is moving house and using the trucks to help!!

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 18th February 2009, 20:33

      Very interesting thanks for that Adrian! Let us know if you see anything else…

    • Adrian said on 19th February 2009, 8:10

      Keith, not likely to see anything else I’m afraid. I was on my way home up to Yorkshire from a meeting in Kent and planned my route to go past the Honda factory (Yep I am that sad!! But the A43 is a great road to drive too!!).

      Was tempted to stop off in Woking too, but figured I wouldn’t be able to see much there…

  9. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 18th February 2009, 20:26

    I’m amazed we’re at 50% again! I didn’t rate their chances very highly in December and I’ve only become more pessimistic since then. Still hopeit happens though.

  10. manatcna said on 18th February 2009, 22:55

    Yes, TTFKAH will probably be on the grid in Melbourne, but then it will go belly-up sometime during the season.

    I’m not holding my breath either.

    What makes me laugh is Ecclestone

    “F1’s commercial impresario Bernie Ecclestone has said he will do whatever he can to facilitate a rescue deal”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that the same man who said “We don’t need Honda” ?

  11. Jay Menon said on 19th February 2009, 1:02

    I think Bernie is going senile, probably has been for a couple years now.

    If Branson commits, I think the marketing clout that the Virgin brand brings may be attractive to sponsors who are willing to invest. Also, this could also mean that Bruno Senna will not be given a drive since one of his major backers are Embratel, which is a phone company. I suspect Branson would not be interested in having another phone company’s livery on his cars when he’s got his own Virgin Mobile.

    I really hope they make it, it would be a shame to see only 18 cars on the grid come Melbourne.

  12. Adrian said on 19th February 2009, 9:39

    According to Pitpass if we have heard nothing by March 3rd then we should assume the worst…

    http://www.pitpass.com/fes_php/pitpass_news_item.php?fes_art_id=37074

  13. If Honda starts spouting we can still close down news items then I have to believe they are pushing someone (hopefully Branson)to close the deal.

    I have to chuckle over the idea of a “Virgin” taking up with the “Pirhana Club”!

  14. petrobrass will also leave honda.
    it’s getting harder for honda to stay

  15. glamourBob said on 21st February 2009, 14:32

    As has been mentioned, a big factor is the engines. OK, a chassis under developed, is still a chassis you can enter into a race. But it’s going to be pretty hard to qualify for the grid without an engine.

    Mercedes presumably have to make the things first: F1 engines don’t grow on trees. With them concentrating on McLaren and Force India all ready with the first Grand Prix now just over 30 days away, it’s a bit much to expect them to make several engines for ‘Honda’ as well at a drop of a hat.

    If ‘Honda’ intend to use Mercedes engines, then they are pushing their luck.

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