How will Honda quitting affect F1?

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Honda is expected to confirm its immediate withdrawal from Formula 1

It now seems inevitable that Honda will announce in a few hours’ time that it is going to sell its F1 team or close it.

F1 could be left with only nine teams, drivers will be left without seats, and the continued participation of other manufacturers may be in doubt. How will Honda’s departure affect Formula 1?

Three-car teams?

Formula One Management is understood to be required to bring at least 20 cars to each Grand Prix (there is some doubt over the exact figure – some suggest it could be as little as 16). If no buyer for the Brackley team is found, F1 will have only nine teams with 18 cars.

Therefore it may be necessary for some teams to field three cars. This potentially creates all kinds of complications:

How would it be decided which teams run three cars? Would all three be eligible for championship points?

Are the FIA and FOM able to demand teams run three cars if they have to? The commercial deal that governs F1, the Concorde Agreement, lapsed some time ago.

Are Toyota next?

Will other car manufacturers follow Honda in ending their F1 teams? Honda are by no means the only car manufacturer taking a hammering on sales and profits at the moment.

Once one team has been pulled we could see a domino effect where other car manufacturers look at what Honda has done and reason: ‘if they can cut their F1 programme, so can we’.

Given Honda’s decision to pull out, Toyota’s continues participation suddenly looks decidedly vulnerable. Toyota originally entered F1 in 2002 to go up against its major domestic rival which, at the time, was an engine supplier.

Toyota has reported a similar huge fall in its American market sales within days of Honda doing so: Honda’s sales fell by 32%, Toyota’s by 34%. Toyota has slashed its profit forecast for the current fiscal year from Yen1.25tr to Yen550bn ($13.4bn to $5.9bn).

Its $445.6m F1 budget may seem small by comparison but as the company drastically cuts back on car production and faces a huge fall in profits, sustaining an F1 team at great cost for little reward seems indefensible. There is already speculation that Toyota is not interested in competing in F1 without its chief rival and is preparing to pull out.

Meanwhile Renault has shed 6,000 workers and made deep production cuts. Could it be next in line?

What about their drivers?

Will Jenson Button have an F1 drive in 2009?

Honda were expected to continue with Jenson Button for 2009 and pair him with either Rubens Barrichello, Lucas di Grassi or Bruno Senna. Barrichello, F1’s oldest and most experienced driver, may find it hard to get a seat with another team.

Jenson Button has been with the team since 2003, scored their first win (for the modern incarnation of Honda), and has stuck with them through their 2007-2008 slump. If he is able to get any seat for 2009 his options seem limited to Toro Rosso or possibly Force India.

And its IRL programme?

It’s not clear whether Honda intends to continue its exclusive engine supply deal with the American-based Indy Racing League.

If Honda indeed decides to keep its IRL programme and drop its F1 team Bernie Ecclestone should take note – he allowed both of F1’s North American races to be priced off the calendar, despite objections from many fans and team owners, including Nick Fry.

What about the future cost-cutting plans?

The prospect of losing one of the manufacturer-backed F1 teams will surely harden the resolve of FIA president Max Mosley to increase the size and scope of his cost-cutting proposals, including the demand for standard engines.

The Formula One Teams Association met today to discuss future cost-cutting plans and claim they have “agreed to further measures implementing substantial cost cutting for 2009 and 2010”. Details of how this will be achieved are not known yet.

They also called for a move to a new specification of engine from 2011 – a 1.8-litre turbocharged unit using energy recovery systems, which it claims will use 30% less fuel. Will that be enough of a fuel saving to offset the development cost of these new engines?

And will it be a strong enough proposal to delay Max Mosley’s effort to impose standard engines on F1?

Could it affect the Japanese Grand Prix?

Will Honda-owned Suzuka keep its place on the 2009 F1 calendar?

Ollie on BlogF1 points out that as Honda operates Suzuka Circuit its role as a Grand Prix host could be in doubt. Suzuka is set to return to F1 as the host of the 2009 Japanese Grand Prix.

As well as the loss of the race’s owner from F1, it could lead to a significant downturn in local interest.

Will someone step in and buy the team?

There is a lot of speculation about whether a buyer for Honda might be found. It is not clear whether Honda would allow a new owner to continue using its engines (James Allen thinks not, Autosport suggests it might).

Inevitably speculation will fall on companies who most tried to enter F1 most recently, such as Dubai’s Magma Group and Germany’s Weigl Group, who looked into purchasing Super Aguri in April, or David Richard’s Prodrive company, which was originally going to enter a team this year.

Autosport suggests that Brawn could bring a Ferrari engine supply to the team. Ferrari is no longer supplying Force India and so in theory may have engines available.

But the chances of finding a buyer able and willing to pump hundreds of millions of dollars into running an F1 team – however cheaply Honda sell the team – seems extremely unlikely in the current economic climate.

That said, if Ecclestone really does have a vested interest in finding a buyer due to the ’20 cars’ clause, then he is the man to get it done.

I hope it happens. Not just for the future of F1, but for the hundreds of workers at Brackley.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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61 comments on “How will Honda quitting affect F1?”

  1. Honda doesn’t supply the engines for the IRL, they only supply the name. Ilmor Engineering builds the engines from a contract, that i believe, runs through Penske.

    Either way, their investment there is pennies compared to F1. It has less to do with the market and more to do with the cost. F1 is a huge cost and for Honda, little gain. If honda were serious about the American market they’d be in NECKCAR.

  2. Should Toyota follow suit, as has been speculated, I would be concerned for the Williams team. Now that would be a shame if they could not go racing anymore. Had a fabulous day out there watching the 2000 Belgian GP at Spa and saw THAT overtaking move in the Ayrton Senna theatre. Never heard cheering like it!
    Bernie said a few years ago that the western world would be more like a third world economy and that was part of his reasoning to move F1 to other countries. I was tempted to think he was nuts at the time and then I decided he must know much more than we do!

  3. I think the countdown clock on Toyota’s F1 project has already started with this news on Honda. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them slash the programme and simply go back to concentrating on the engines and pool resources with Williams – in effect merging two teams into one – which would probably be mutually beneficial to both Williams and Toyota.

    I can seriously, for the first time, see the three-car team situation on the horizon.

  4. I see very dark days ahead for formula 1. Toyota now has no reason to continue in formula 1 their main competitor is gone. Its is very sad to see such a great company leave the sport! I understand that at the moment the cost of motor sports is not a smart business decision. I just hope no more teams pull out or I might pull myself from watching.

  5. We might find F1 in a maasive amount of trouble. I’m not saying dead in the water, but we might not see a 2009 season if more manufacturers pull out. This has happened in other sport’s before – US baseball being the first to mind (obviously for different reasons). Is it possible that the sport may take a sabbatical?

    One thing I think is for sure. Customer cars will be allowed quicker than you can blink, and possibly the standard engine too. Any of the current manufacturers could pull out at any time, as we know, so why should Mosley listen to any complaints or demands they may have?

    While I feel sorry for the HondaF1 employees, and those of other teams who get pushed aside for more talented ex-Honda people, I can’t help but feel just as sorry for us, the fans. We could be in for a very rough ride, thanks mainly to greedy people.

    F1 has/had become an investment. Where are the new teams who joined to race, not to sell drinks or road cars? There hasn’t been one since Prost. Even Super Aguri was only there to help Honda’s image in Japan (re: Takuma Sato). With F1 having deeper links to the world economy year after year, just the oil “crisis” would have been enough to worry the sport, but if anything happened in the financial world, of course it was going to have a large effect on F1. How large, we’ll have to wait and see, but it doesn’t feel good.

    Strap yourselves in tight fans, we’re going on a bumpy ride. And don’t worry Honda, as long as your shareholders are happy, the board gets a bonus and the profits keep ticking over, you’re doing the right thing, right?

  6. This is a shame,I was looking forward to seeing Ross Brawn take this team and Jense back to the front. If Toyota doesn’t withdraw now I am sure they will not make it through the whole season….they really don’t have a reason to stay now.

  7. Thats a real shame about Honda. i think a lot of ppl had hoped that they would be relatively competitive next year. there are a lot of great ppl on the Honda Team. I wonder if Red Bull will snap some up?

  8. Honda quit F1 and but still race LMP1 with Acura for 2009.
    ALMS is certainly cheaper and you can run at Le Mans.

    Will this enable Max to leverage more drastic changes like a single engine? Oh dear, F1 could just drop like a stone now.

  9. I’m sitting here slightly surprised, yet secretly hoping that F1 really does fall in on itself now, and that something far better will rise from its ashes.

  10. If F1 goes the way of the pear, it’s had it coming for a long time. I think a total collapse followed by a ground – up rebuild would be beneficial for the long term future.

    I personally won’t miss Toyota in any way although Glock was showing some promise. Honda, Button, Brawn and possibly Suzuka are great losses although it does not surprise me that it was Honda who blinked first.

    Not only have they spent too much in comparison to their points tally but they were also very hesitant about entering a full blown F1 team in the first place.

  11. Soulore Solaris
    5th December 2008, 1:03

    well, unsurprising really, I’d not be too surprised to see the season canceled.

    I’m a huge fan of F1 and motor racing, but realistically, how ridiculous is this Formula in the face of climate change and an economic disaster…?? this is no mere downturn, this is a disaster we have not yet seen the proportions of, it’s only just beginning.

    and without any rational plan for an environmentally friendly formula, and domination by the utter greed and sickening politics of arrogance by people like Eccelstone, i can only see the whole thing heading for disaster, and now I’m finally of the mind to say i hope the whole ship goes down… actually i think its inevitable…

    but not to worry, something new will rise in its place… lets hope its for the better

  12. Well, Clive predicted this exact scenario months ago. If we – the fans – can see the writing on the wall what the h*ll does it say about the dunderheads in charge that they couldn’t? Of course we all know the answer – the poison dwarf only sees $$$ and S&Max only sees power.

    Both may find out soon enough that such myopic vision will mean that they end up with nothing. Couldn’t happen to nicer blokes IMO.

    I really do think this is the beginning of the end for F1, but I too hope that like the Phoenix something better will rise from the ashes.

  13. Soulore Solaris
    5th December 2008, 1:36

    yeah I agree Pink…

    I often wonder how people can be so greedy stupid and power hungry…??? but i guess its the same blindness that leads to their behavior, the false esteem reinforced by years of supreme arrogance and the world has been run by people like this…

    but the games over…

    i suggest they step aside gracefully now, and let the future emerge, or go down with their miserable sinking ships and let history judge…

  14. i highly doubt there will be a buyer for the team.

    they have no revenue at all – no sponsors, it’s a total loss for whoever buys them.

    the no sponsors was a branding tact by honda, so it’s no too bad for them to go sponsorless – they are the sponsor. but to spend 400m on buying a team that’s only going to cost money is a big stretch right now – especially since the only interested parties are investment companies that have lost most of their money and oil rich countries that have lost 70% of their oil value.

    they’re done. all of them.

    the only ‘safe’ teams out there are ferrari, mclaren, force india, toyota and redbull.

    ferrari and mclaren profit from f1.
    force india and redbull have sugardaddies.
    toyota still makes good money, but they also have sponsors and they made 56 points compared to hondas 14 last year. (points = $).

    toyota can scale back their budget and still be ok.

    renault, bmw, are safe-ish

    renault and bmw are 50/50 between safe and dropable, renault wants to pull the pin to save money, but when they are on form they make good points ($) and they do well from sponsors. they aren’t short on cash, but renault still spends more then they want to put a car on the grid.

    bmw are in the same boat as renault, they spend a bit but they are in a good position points wise, good bank of points to help the funding, and their sponsors are picking up the rest of the bill. bmw are still paying for the privlidge and they could want to save some cash. but if they do, i can see that team still surviving beyond bmw.

    toro rosso and williams could be dropped very soon. toro rosso dosen’t really have a home and williams is self reliant by people with not too much bank. their sponsors are the guys who are being hit hard financially and their points pull is minimal.

    imo the sport is all about manufacturers, without them it’s just high speed karting. everyone using 2-3 different chassis and engines.

  15. My wife is Russian, and I often tell her about this sport and the way it is run. She says it reminds her of communism, and I would have to agree with her.
    The rich have got richer whilst the poor have got poorer. Bernie Ecclestone could not care less if F1 sank without a trace, he has been hiding his billions in offshore banks for years, he’ll make sure he is alright, mark my words.
    This does not just come down to cash, it comes down to how this sport has been handled. The non stop scandal, the non stop biased rules handed out yearly, the extorsionistic fleesing of teams, circuit owners, and fans.
    I agree with what was said by a blogger a couple of weeks ago in which he said that fans just cannot afford to attend these races anymore, $2,000.00 can get you a vacation somewhere nice. In F1, what, a day out in a Northamptonshire field in the rain for four people!!
    The IRL charge $40 a ticket to watch the St Petersburg race, $40. This is why this sport is terminally ill, it has been milked bone dry by corrupt, evil people.

  16. Tomorrow Honda quits F1 and then, the next day the world comes to an end!!!

    Come one people!! Get a grip! Grand Prix racing has been around and backed by manufacturers in some form or another for over 100 years. Even through the Great Depression, which was far worse than where we are now.

    This may be the beginning of end of Formula 1 as we know it, but it’s not the end of Formula 1!

  17. Yeh good point Jonatas. The only economic crisis in history that is comparable to this one is the Wall street crash and that was somewhat rectified by WWII. Grand Prix racing felt little or none of the rejuvenating economic effects of the US arms and export industry and then Marshall plan which re-stimulated the world economy. However, it kept going. People are always going to want to go racing and there will always be drivers. I see a couple of outcomes in the long run:

    – Middle grid teams pull out and are replaced by smaller independents that last one or two seasons but then are replaced by yet more independents of decreasing size and some privateers (not every crazy millionaire is going to go bust)

    – The top teams remain until the profit margins start to fall. This would be caused by a loss of competitive edge for whatever reason.

    – This would lead to a situation where 3 big teams would become 2 as the top two get an advantage over a couple of seasons, thus rendering the third team an unsustainable middle-gridder. The top two eventually become equilibrious or one becomes dominant, like Auto Union and Mercedes in the pre-war era.

    i don’t see the sport collapsing but it sure is gonna get ugly in the interim.

    One thing that will happen for sure is a discontinuation of F1 history.
    Top 100 lists and all time stats tables will be rendered useless as the series convulses through rule changes. Bernie’s medal system is an example. The F1 season of 2050 will be utterly incomparable to the 2008 season and the legacy of the next generation of drivers will be overshadowed by the lack of any relevant context against which to judge them.

  18. I agree with Jonatas. So Honda is going to pull out, its not a big deal. If there are 18cars, its not the end of the world. Contracts get re-negotiated, people arent going to boycott F1. Although some of the above comments seem to want it to end. Its got me beat why they are following the sport if they dont like it.
    Its sad to see Honda go, i hope they will return in a few years; and as far as 2050, hopefully F1 will be like Pod Racing in Star Wars. Hahahaha

  19. I wonder if this will herald the return of the independent – team/constructor or engine supplier?

    Manufacturers have dominated in this sport which used to be dominated by independents (Williams being the 1990’s top team) but now are looking more weakened as their need to survive lies at the hands of the consumer. If people don’t buy their products, they are done for.

    If Honda and Toyota are to pull out, I’m sure that there will be those companies/individuals that will take them over and a more independent look could come back to F1 circles. If they stop making engines, then those (and other) constructors may need to look at independent engine suppliers, such as Cosworth.

    We will have to wait to see the developments over the next few months, particularly the closing of the first GP in Australia to see what happens.

  20. yorricksfriend
    5th December 2008, 3:01

    If, like some of you have suggested – F1 sinks like a ship and something rises from the ashes, I shall turn my back on it

  21. The Limit, don’t you mean capitalism? Since communism ended in Russia, the oligarchs have become monumentally and indecently rich, and poverty and unemployment has dramatically increased. Wow, a greater misunderstanding of politics I don’t think I’ve ever seen.

  22. Soulore Solaris
    5th December 2008, 3:58

    nice optimism to think things will keep rolling along as they have been…

    the reality is different, the global economy is having major issues rebirthing itself for a completely new paradigm, car manufacturers have had a long time to get with the new program instead going along with the oil companies in a completely untenable unhealthy and unethical way.

    ecological economics is taking over big time, massive solar air, water and battery powered manufacturing is poised to take off, the 3 major manufactureres in the US are about to go bankrupt, at best.

    and you reckon its all gonna keep rolling on as it has for another 50 years?? i doubt it seriously within 6 months this transition will really take hold, Honda is smart if i were them i wouldnt want to be aligned with F1 if the best it can do is unsightly gross and low tech aerodynamics and pathetic internal combustion ancient technology… this isnt just about economics its about image and market placement…

    F1 is in serious risk of falling behind the times when there is so much awesome aerospace and free energy systems out there ready to implement…

    get with the times guys!

  23. What’s interesting to me as an American is that Honda — and Toyota for that matter — never seemed to me really to fit in with F1 to begin with. F1, here in the U.S., is not an everyman’s sport, so Ferrari and McLaren always made sense to me, but the Asian brands, not so much. I don’t profess to know how they play worldwide, but here in the U.S. both Honda and Toyota have sent decades building the brands on reliability, good value, good resale… these are solid, middle-of-the-road, family brands, and the farthest thing from the glitz and glam of F1. The very first post on this page said Honda should consider NASCAR; I think I agree. Toyota has been there for years, with some success, and in pure branding terms I think it suits Honda better than F1 does, too.

  24. So much to talk about here, but let’s start with the age-old debate about F1 and the USA.

    First up, I understand that Honda started up in F1 with marketing and brand awareness as priority Number 1. However, while this is one of their top markets, they also have sales all over the world, in countries where F1 is the mainstream form of auto racing. So if you think they joined F1 just to increase their presence in North America, I suggest you look at the big picture.

    Now, looking here at North America, it would no doubt be a good idea for Honda to consider NASCAR supply. However, they also have every right to want to have a successful presence in North America with their F1 team. In this respect, I believe Honda would have never thought they would go from two North American races to zero in two years. They also probably never saw Bernie unleasing a long series of negative comments and statements aimed at both venues before they were dropped. F1 is/was a global project for Honda- not just a North American one- but North America was a considerable slice of the picture for them.

    Lastly, if this is the end of Honda F1 as we know it, I will always remember the team for being perhaps the most outspoken on the grid for a strong and healthy U.S. Grand Prix. While it may have been purely from a commercial sense, Nick Fry would never quit in his desire to see an F1 return to this country, while most of the other team bosses sat back, sang the praises of the Tilkedromes, and did NOTHING to push for a healthy North American presence. Mr. Fry, your team may have floundered, but you will always be a hero to fans on our shores.

  25. But Nick Fry, for better or for worse, oversaw BAR/Honda post-2004 – which was when their form began to decline (remember fuel-gate in Imola 2005, way before the 2007 slump?). I really think Fry was severely lacking in his role, and by the time they pulled Ross Brawn in, it was too little, too late.

    But, yeah, ultimately, it was the Japanese board, those who don’t really care too much about F1, who made the decision. And for most manufacturers (except Ferrari and Mercedes), that will always be the case.

  26. Now, let’s turn to the future of the sport.

    F1 is not going to stop operations anytime soon. However, the sport could be headed for a dark age of sorts if Bernie and Max don’t reverse several disasterous rules, attitudes, and proposals.

    First up, cutting costs is critical for F1 teams at the moment, but I believe Max’s standard-engine deal may have had a direct impact on Honda’s decision to leave. If Max is serious about saving the teams money- and keeping the teams in the sport- he should look at proposals like the Force India/McLaren deal, and stop forcing changes on the teams that they don’t want.

    On Bernie’s end, if the teams don’t like the medal idea, then don’t force it on them- form what I can see, the system dose nothing in rewaridng points to teams in the midfield, and offers little to measure the progress of a developing team. Also, for as much as some people may argue with me about it, North America is a critical market for the teams, and I have little doubt that going from two races to none in under two years had at least something to do with their decision to bolt.

    McLaren, Ferrari, and BMW are in good shape- they are at the top of the grid, are well-sponsored, have premiere drivers on their books, and probably aren’t hurting as much in terms of sales as the Japanese teams are. Same for Renault, although perhaps they would close up shop if the results son’t start coming. Force India is good shape, esp. now that they have McLaren’s help. Red Bull is also going to chug along, although STR may be in some grave danger if they are indeed to be sold. The ones to watch are Williams and Toyota- I think Toyota is in better shape than Honda was, but if Max continues to push his bad legislation, they could want out in the near future as well.

    We’ll just need to wait and see what the press releases say tomorrow….

  27. VERY odd, consider they spent all of this season on next years car, to the dtriment of results this year and they rnt even going to be around to race it…………..

  28. For those who listen to what the “prophets of doom” have to say , it is predicted the world economy is heading into it’s worse depression since 1937 , which I think was know as “The Great Depression”. Personally I don’t think it will be that severe , but nevertheless there is no doubt there is currently financial strain on everything , and in particular the motor industry , so that coupled with the fact that Honda’s past performances on track have been less than acceptable in terms of expenditure , would have been the catalysts for the final decision. Did hit me as a surprise though , but probably because of the suddenness with which it was announced. The positive is if there facilities are bought out , and they become an independant team , will also be up Mosley’s alley.

  29. My understanding is that Honda is looking for a quick sale and will let its F1 operation go for a nominal sum. If so, this could open the door for someone to come in and run the team using the rebranded 2009 Honda chassis and customer engines. With the right backing it’s a near perfect turnkey operation for, say, Prodrive, ART, Carlin or even a management buyout led by Nick Fry and Ross Brawn. Whether anyone could find that kind of money at such short notice is the big question.

  30. I wouldn’t be suprised to see Bernie do a deal with someone to get a buyer for HondaF1 fast. Prodrive would seem an obvious candidate, first because they wanted into F1 as recently as last year but couldn’t afford the setup costs, second they obviously have plenty of rich “fans” – look at their 77 project – so I’m sure they could find backers even in these hard times, and third because of David Richard’s history with the former BAR.

    From what I read a deal could include the engine manufacturing facility – so they should be alright for engines. I’m sure Jenson, Brawn, Fry et al will agree to work for no salary if it means staying in the sport (obviously the “normal” employees won’t be able to, but if the top guys take a pay-cut it reduces the budget by a sizeable chunk) and they could easily bring in a pay driver for the second seat (how much has Rubens got in the bank??).

    Yes, I expect to see a new team on the grid next year using the HondaF1 setup.

    BUT, I also expect to see a very different F1 in the years to come as costs are finally brought into check, and signs this morning seem to suggest that Max is starting the get the message – he’s finally realised that he shouldn’t force a standard engine on everyone (for those who haven’t seen yet, he’s announced a low cost engine & transmission deal from Cosworth and then teams have the option of building their own engine to the same spec, or continuing with their current units).

    As for sponsors, there’s still money out there. It might be harder to find, but there’s money to be got in places like India, Russia and the Middle East.

  31. Does Ross Brawn go to Renault now?

  32. I think Honda quitting will affect F1 Fanatic…

    …you need to change your ‘F1 2009’ link photo up in the top-right Keith, to a team that will actually be on the grid next year :)

  33. Formula 1 needs to get itself back to the Williams model. That is, going racing for racing’s sake, and not as a branding excercise to sell your company or your product.

    A team should get some sponsorship, go racing with that money, and what they win they put back into the team. As Williams do.

    The Formula 1 teams should not be reliant on companies that (a) only want to be in for the good times (b) have near everlasting supplies of money during those good times and (c) throttle the life out of teams who will still be there when times are bad.

    If Honda’s exit helps Formula 1 to restructure itself and bring an element of sanity back to the budgets and the mechanisms of going racing, then perhaps we can build a more sustainable championship.

  34. Max will probably spin Honda leaving as a need to reduce costs, though I (and no doubt FOTA) would be very interested in learning how much Honda spent on KERS and the new aero regs.

    Surely Max’s push for change has, if anything, accelerated a team like Honda pulling out of F1.

  35. Ah god, I’m just gutted. Next year in our beloved F1 could be a disaster, it’s too late to start tinkering with the rules for 2009. I think they may have to allow three car teams with points to the best two finishers on the constructors championship. In 2010 it now looks like the teams will all have Cosworth standard engines. The works teams can go, leave the real F1 teams to get on with it. We might have to let Ferrari build their own engine though!!

  36. Toyota now has no reason to continue in formula 1 their main competitor is gone

    Why in the world would Toyota leave for that reason? They have no competition for Japanese F1 fans! That’s like Microsoft pulling out of the software market because they didn’t have competition. Toyota is a business and wants to beat the competition. They are probably jumping for joy!

    As for the IRL, just yesterday Honda had a positive press release about it. It looks like they are sticking with Indy Cars.

  37. …..agree with Bob McKay….post 33.

    It is a good time to remember that the problem with F1 is not popularity. The product is still good. The problem is, or will soon be obviously seen as, cost. If you reduce the costs,to all involved…DRAMATICALLY…then the financial viability of the sport, long term, is ensured.

    The only reason everything in F1, from tracks & tickets to aerodynamics and engine development, costs so much is…there are those willing to pay. Obviously, that is about to change.The sport can exist based on a different economic model if, and this is a very large if, it is able, through flexible management, to reconfigure its operating structure, enter Mr. Ecclestone and Mr. Mosley, who, and I can’t believe I’m saying it, have been attempting, of late, just such a restructuring. (why don’t I hear any applause?)

    No, F1 can weather a changing economy, what we really need to be thinking about, long term, is the viability of the internal combustion engine as a power source of the future….stay tuned for that discussion, post the present economic shake-out!

  38. Honda told they are sorry for Jenson, but they did not say anything about Rubens, so probably they already considered him out of the game…

  39. It is now the time for Flavio to move and get Button in Nelsinho’s seat.

  40. It is now the time for Flavio to move and get Button in Nelsinho’s seat.

    Now that I would like to see, Button against Alonso and hopefully Renault will be at the top of their game next season so we can see how he’d do against Hamilton too…

  41. Sadly F1 is becoming a shadow of the great sport it once used to be, and all in part due to many factors and far to many people and organisations to list here…

  42. Ajokay – yep!

    DC –

    Why in the world would Toyota leave for that reason?

    For the same reason Michelin weren’t interested in being F1’s sole tyre suppliers. The point of motor racing is competition and beating the other guy. For Toyota the other guy is Honda.

    Glad to see they’re sticking with the IRL at least.

    UKK –

    It is now the time for Flavio to move and get Button in Nelsinho’s seat.

    I don’t think that’s going to happen.

  43. I think the main results of this will be that Max will have more power in his cost cutting drive, and so a standard engine will be more likely. Also the issue of customer cars will probably be back on the agenda.

  44. Keith, yep, I also don’t think it will happen, but is an interesting thought ;-)

  45. I guess if Honda is sold, and Brawn gets Ferrari engines for the new team, then that leaves Rubens with less than 0% chance of a drive next year, what with all the recent spilling of Austria 2002’s beans.

  46. Will is seem the with mad max and berni taking page out Bob Mugabe’s book on how to run things it looks like F! is heading the same way as ZIM i feel sorry for honda i thought with Ross there that next year they would be the surpise!!!! they still surprised

  47. Robert I tend to disagree with your analogy of the Williams team being to model for future racing, last I heard they were in crippling debt and are having to fight tooth and nail to keep in the sport and with news about some of their key sponsors in trouble I feel it is the wrong benchmark to use.

    If Williams (and Force India)had not no opposed the customer team proposal so hard in which kept Prodrive and was one of the fundamental reason why Honda stopped supporting Super Aguri then there would be more teams in the sport in which to soften the blow of losing a team like Honda, but Williams seemed to want their cake and eat it a demand that teams needed to spend lots of money on building and designing their own cars, which is in the mindset if all the other big racing teams, that F1 racing is about throwing as much money at the team as possible without understanding the realistic returns. In protecting Williams pedigree it kept out other smaller teams, but ensured that it was trapped in a small pond with much bigger fish in.

    Just a crazy out-there type though on this, with the global banks/car companies struggling, we are seeing the governing bodies of these countries bailing them out, I wonder if Bernie could put together a “bail out scheme” which would propose to reduce the teams cost in provision for certain returns, such as a budget cap on design and development or a maximum spend per year.

  48. Robert I tend to disagree with your analogy of the Williams team being to model for future racing, last I heard they were in crippling debt and are having to fight tooth and nail to keep in the sport and with news about some of their key sponsors in trouble I feel it is the wrong benchmark to use.

    I agree it’s the wrong model to take on manufacturers with. That’s why they are in debt, because they have to spend to compete with teams backed by companies with massive profits to boot.

    But if everyone follows the Williams model the sport can be sustained much easier. Like it was just ten years ago.

  49. For the same reason Michelin weren’t interested in being F1’s sole tyre suppliers. The point of motor racing is competition and beating the other guy. For Toyota the other guy is Honda.

    I see what you are saying, Keith, but remember that the manufacturers look at F1 as a marketing tool. (What was that famous Enzo quote: “The other guys race to sell cars, we sell cars so we can race.”)

    I can imagine Toyota pulling out, but not simply because Honda did so. Toyota would pull out because they need to cut costs, just like Ford/Jag a couple years ago and Honda now.

    In a very real sense, Toyota F1’s intrinsic value just increased because Honda pulled out. They went into F1 because they saw the marketing and R&D benefits Honda was getting. Now Honda, one of their biggest rivals, has lost those benefits.

    Think of it like a business, not a sport.

  50. @ DC (comment #36)

    Why would Toyota want to keep throwing piles of money into F1 when their reason to be there was to compete with the other Japanese competitor?They haven’t had any success and now they can withdraw with their heads up and say at least they didn’t cave in first… and clear and saving billions.

  51. Everyone is mentioning Force India as being healthy. Yes, this is true, but Dr Mallya is a billionaire a few times over. He can afford to dissolve a contract with Ferrari and come to terms for a technical partnership with McLaren-Mercedes. For the rest of the F1 world, there needs to be cost cutting, like it or not. That’s reality. But then what do fans really want–fancy high-dollar multinationals or independent teams that can at least round up enough budget to build a chassis and bolt on an engine they can afford? Racin’ is still racin’, isn’t it? Did F1 not exist in the ’60s and ’70s? Modern fans only seem to care about F1 if it has big-spending corporations involved. That seems backwards to me.

  52. Seems to me Bernie should stop threatening GP’s and reinstate the USA, Canadian, and French Grand Prix’s with immediate effect, even if they pay reduced fees. The car manufacturers need maximum help, publicity and exposure in what is a clearly a terrible global financial situation. The North American market is huge and fundamental. Come on Bernie… contain your ego and let common sense prevail for the sack of F1!

  53. From my buddy Bob when I told him:

    “Who is Force India going to race with now?”

  54. Hey, didn’t Hyundai a few years ago say that they wanted to enter F1 in the near future. Well, if they were serious about it, then this is an ideal opportunity for them.

    They can’t do any worse than Honda, now, can they?

    I bet Nick Fry wishes they never got rid of Jacques Villeneuve now, eh?

  55. I don’t buy into this idea that because Honda have quit Toyota will quit because “their reason to be there was to compete with the other Japanese competitor”. Toyota are the worlds biggest car company. Honda don’t even produce half as many cars as them. Honda are not Toyota’s main rival in terms of selling cars. Toyota are a global company who compete in a global market primarily with GM, VW and Ford (none of whom are currently represented in F1). Even if Toyota did quit I don’t think it would be because of Honda, there are bigger things to consider.

  56. Pink Peril @ No 12

    Says it all really.

    The sport may well start to implode sooner rather than later and for some of us it may be a good thing.

    We’ve seen a lot of mismanagement and a world wide community of fans disregarded in an attempt to make obscene profits.

    My sympathies are with the staff at all teams as the next year could be a very uncomfortable one for them but if the collapse of F1 brings about a new series that focuses more on racing cars & drivers then it may turn out to be for the best.

  57. For F1 to continue there has got to be some give from both the teams and management and Fans. F1 can still be the pinical of motor racing, that dose not mean they have to have all the most high end equipment in them. I mean come on most of what you see on F1 you cant buy in a street car, most of us cant afford a top Ferrai or Mercedies (sorry for my lousy spelling). As far as if this happens drivers will quit and manufacures pull out, well I say bye, bye. The sport is going on with out Honda it can go on with out ferrai. It will go on after Alanso. Someone else will come take their place. If you cut cost or your standize things or you allow this or that, it is going to make someone unhappy. For those who say if they do this it wont be F1 anymore, well maybe it wont be the old F1 but at this point F1 aint looking to good we have fewer cars and less race tracks now. There is no simple answer to how to fix the problem. In the end, everyone needs to do a little more give and work the proplem together and stop with the one answer solution to the problem. My 2 cents

  58. Hey Bernie, maybe you and Max should sit down and talk.

  59. I think this is a sad day for F1 but one has to wonder why Alonso didn’t opt for Honda at the end of the season. I think it was not fully related with the performance alone, other factors did come in to play and it may be that Honda’s quitting was one of them. Again it is a big “may be”.

  60. Three-car teams was considered in the past, no doubt it will come up again if Honda do not have a buyer.

    Technically, by being in receivership, aren’t Super Aguri still up for sale (at least by assets if not in full) as well? I smell a repeat of Andrea Moda…

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