Honda walks out on F1

Honda quits F1 - Jenson Button

“We, Honda Motor Co., Ltd., have come to the conclusion that we will withdraw from all Formula One activities, making 2008 the last season of participation.”

And with those words, Takeo Fukui, the chief executive of Honda Motors, confirmed the rumours and brought down the curtain on Honda as a Formula One constructor. However, the UK-based team may live on, if a buyer can be found. Fukui confirming the F1 team was up for grabs, “We will enter into consultation with the associates of Honda Racing F1 Team and its engine supplier Honda Racing Development regarding the future of the two companies. This will include offering the team for sale.”

Nick Fry, Honda Racing F1 team boss has high hopes a buyer can be found, “In the last 12 hours we’ve had three serious people come and suggest they’d like to buy the team,” he told the BBC.

“We’re one of the best-funded teams and have the best assets and resources in the pit lane – we’ll be quite a desirable asset for somebody.”

Honda Racing F1Team Principal, and general F1 mastermind, Ross Brawn is certainly talking up the Honda product, “Our information is that, relative to the other teams, we have a very strong car in development here at Brackley and we will continue to develop the RA109 to ensure a strong start to 2009 and improvement through the season. This is a unique opportunity. The facilities we have here are among the best in the sport…”

The full statement from Honda Motor Co and official responses from Honda Racing F1 team members can be read after the jump.

Statement by Takeo Fukui, President and CEO, Honda Motor Co., Ltd.

December 5, 2008 – We, Honda Motor Co., Ltd., have come to the conclusion that we will withdraw from all Formula One activities, making 2008 the last season of participation.

This difficult decision has been made in light of the quickly deteriorating operating environment facing the global auto industry, brought on by the sub-prime problem in the United States, the deepening credit crisis and the sudden contraction of the world economies.

Honda must protect its core business activities and secure the long term as widespread uncertainties in the economies around the globe continue to mount. A recovery is expected to take some time.

Under these circumstances, Honda has taken swift and flexible measures to counter this sudden and expansive weakening of the marketplace in all business areas. However, in recognition of the need to optimize the allocation of management resources, including investment regarding the future, we have decided to withdraw from Formula One participation. We will enter into consultation with the associates of Honda Racing F1 Team and its engine supplier Honda Racing Development regarding the future of the two companies. This will include offering the team for sale.

In its third era of Formula One activities, Honda has been participating in Formula One races from the 2000 season, initially with BAR, by adopting a new format of jointly developing racing machines. Subsequently, in a move to meet the changing environment surrounding Formula One, we switched to running a 100% Honda-owned team commencing with the 2006 season.

Surmounting many challenges, the Honda Team achieved a Grand Prix victory in 2006, enabling Honda to receive overwhelming support from Honda fans around the world that were looking forward to greater success. It, therefore, has been an extremely difficult decision for us to come to this conclusion without having been able to fully meet the expectations of our fans.

By making the best of what we have learned during these times of economic turmoil, coupled with the spirit of challenge gained through active participation in racing, we intend to continue with our commitment in meeting new challenges.

Finally, we would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank our fans and all those who have supported Honda’s Formula One efforts, including everyone in the world of Formula One.

Thank you very much.

Takeo Fukui
President and CEO
Honda Motor Co., Ltd.

Honda quits F1

Following the statement made by Takeo Fukui, President of Honda Motor Co., Ltd. in Tokyo today, members of the senior management and Jenson Button have responded with great optimism:

Nick Fry

“Despite the obvious disappointment that we all felt on hearing the news from Honda Motor Co. we do understand that this decision was one which they felt they had to take in light of the current global economic situation and the resulting impact on the worldwide automobile market.

“Last night’s meeting with the staff was difficult for everyone but judging by what we have seen here in Brackley today, that has quickly given rise to a steely determination. The directors of the Honda Racing F1 Team now intend to make every effort possible to secure the future of the team and we know we can count on the continued support and fighting spirit of the great team of people we have here in Brackley. Our staff have been a credit to themselves, to our team and to Formula One over the past 24 hours and I would like to take this opportunity to say how proud we are of them today.

“The RA109, our 2009 F1 contender, is our first car developed under the technical leadership of Ross Brawn. With the resources Ross has at his disposal and confirmation that Honda will provide the necessary support to complete the car in time for the first race in Melbourne, I am sure that we can still have a very successful 2009 season if a new owner can be found. One new major sponsor is already signed for 2009 and discussions are well advanced with others. Offers of support from around the world have been generous and I’m sure that with that kind of goodwill towards the team we have a good chance of competing even in this difficult economic situation.

“We have had a number of potentially suitable investors approach us since the news broke and we now we want to make sure that we have the right owner for the team to enable to us to continue at the right level.

“There is no doubt in my mind that Formula One can have a good future and that this team can be part of it. The sport, including FOTA, the FIA and FOM, is already well down the road of ensuring a more sustainable existence and I’m sure that this work will continue to accelerate in the coming weeks, making our team a very good investment for the right buyer.”

Ross Brawn

“Our information is that, relative to the other teams, we have a very strong car in development here at Brackley and we will continue to develop the RA109 to ensure a strong start to 2009 and improvement through the season.

“This is a unique opportunity. The facilities we have here are among the best in the sport as a result of multi-million pound investments over the past 24 months. We have a fantastic workforce and a car that could be one of the best.

“Honda are keen to help us try to preserve the team and fortunately we have some time to react. If this had happened closer to the season it would have been much more difficult. It’s a fantastic opportunity for someone to step into what will be a very competitive team next year. The facilities here are amongst the best in Formula One, the workforce is definitely one of the best in Formula One and we have a great car in progress for next year. We have aspirations to be at the front of the grid and we want to find investors who have the same ambitions.

“I would like to thank the staff here at Brackley for a fantastic demonstration of courage and fortitude today despite difficult circumstances. I am proud to be part of this team.”

Jenson Button

“As you can imagine, I was totally shocked by yesterday’s news. The process of absorbing it is one that will continue for some days to come, so the only focus today was being here at Brackley to return the support I have counted on throughout our past six years together. I am sure I will have more to say in the coming days but today is about the people I consider my team – and what a fantastic group of people they are.”

Source: Telegraph, Honda Racing F1, autoblog and BBC