Honda have announced that it plans to sell its Formula One team after the Japanese car manufacturer’s decision to withdraw from the sport in light of difficult conditions in the global auto market.
The current Honda team was formed in 2000 after the company took over the former BAR squad, transforming it into a works team in 2006. Honda now hope to have new owners in place ahead of the 2009 season.
Team principal Ross Brawn and team CEO Nick Fry are expected to be closely involved in the evaluation of potential buyers, with speculation also arising that Brawn could call on contacts at his former team, Ferrari, to help secure a new engine supply deal.
Honda’s original Formula One involvement began in the 1960s, American Richie Ginther scoring their maiden win at the 1965 Mexico Grand Prix. Absent from competition in the ‘70s, they went on to several title successes as engine suppliers in the ‘80s and ‘90s with the likes of Williams and McLaren.
Their 2006 works return started well, with Jenson Button winning the Hungarian Grand Prix en route to fourth in the constructors’ championship. However, the team lost their way the following year, scoring just six points from 17 races.
Brawn’s subsequent arrival was heralded as the start of a new era, but came too late to have significant impact on Honda’s 2008 campaign, which saw them finish ninth in the final standings.
Neither of Honda’s race drivers, Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello, has yet been confirmed for 2009 and the UK-based team recently evaluated GP2 star Bruno Senna.
Full statement from Honda:
“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 percent 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."
President and CEO
Honda Motor Co., Ltd.