Jenson Button, Rubens Barrichello, Honda, Magny-Cours, 2008

FIA responds as Honda officially announces withdrawal from F1

2009 F1 season

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Here is the official statement from Honda president and CEO Takeo Fukui announcing the withdrawal of Honda.

Max Mosley has sent a letter in response to the teams in which he offers them the use of a standard engine and transmission system for three years starting from 2010 at a total cost of £18.15m ($26.6m).

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

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.

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Letter from Max Mosley, FIA President, to all F1 team principals


Further to my letter of 18 November (copy attached for convenience), we have completed the tendering process and are now in exclusive negotiations with Cosworth together with Xtrac and Ricardo Transmissions (XR) to supply a complete Formula One power train starting in 2010. The engine will be a current Formula One engine while the transmission will be state-of-the-art Formula One and a joint effort by two companies which already supply transmissions to most of the grid.

The cost to each team taking up this option will be an up-front payment of €1.68M (£1.97M) and then €5.49M (£6.42M) per season for each of the three years of the supply contract (2010, 2011, 2012). This price is based on four teams signing up and includes full technical support at all races and official tests, plus 30,000 km of testing. The annual cost will reduce if more teams take up the option, for example to €4.99M (£5.84M) per team with eight teams. It will further reduce if less than 30,000 km of testing is required. Neither engine nor transmission will be badged.

As suggested in my letter of 18 November, teams participating in the 2010 Championship would
then have three options:

  • the above;
  • the right to build an engine themselves, identical to the above, having been supplied with
    all the necessary technical information;
  • the right to continue to use their existing engine, with the current ban on development and
    requirement for engine parity still in place (noting that the engine supplied will become the
    reference engine for output and other performance indicators and no engine will be
    permitted to exceed those indicators).

Teams opting for one of the latter two options would nevertheless use the XR transmission. In combination with the programme of cost reductions for the chassis, race weekend and team home base outlined in my letter of 18 November, these arrangements have a number of advantages. These include:

  • enabling the independent teams to survive in the current difficult economic climate;
  • facilitating the replacement of a manufacturer team if (as seems likely) we suffer additional
  • stabilising Formula One while new road-relevant technologies are introduced together with
    a state-of-the-art high tech engine, which could be in Formula One as early as 2013
    should the car industry by then be in a position to fund its development;
  • avoiding any change to the Formula One spectacle and keeping the technology at current

These arrangements are on the basis that at least four teams enter into contracts to use the power train described above, and do so no later than close of business (5pm CET) on Thursday 11 December 2008. In the event of fewer than four teams signing up, the FIA may still proceed but the price on offer will vary. The supply contracts will be with Cosworth but in the first instance teams are requested to make their intentions known to my office.

Yours sincerely
Max Mosley

A PDF copy of Mosley’s 18 November letter can be downloaded here: Max Mosley’s letter to FOTA, 18th November 2008 (PDF)

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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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24 comments on “FIA responds as Honda officially announces withdrawal from F1”

  1. Mussolini's pet cat
    5th December 2008, 8:58

    Jeez, this is bad.

  2. I still don’t think it’s as bad as people are making out, that said I don’t think they’ll be the last manufacturer to pull out…the F1 Sun is setting in the Land Of The Rising Sun methinks…

  3. I really thought Max offer was a bit melodramatic, but seeing how quickly Honda have pulled out, maybe this is the only way F1 can continue.

    Surely Toyota could be thinking the same thing- big budget, no results- leave.

  4. Button for seat at Toro Rosso anyone? I think he deserves a place on the grid. He’s a good enough driver and deserves a place.

  5. Mussolini's pet cat
    5th December 2008, 9:56

    I fear for Williams….

  6. Quick question about Honda pulling out of F1. Could this mean Jenson Button may find his way to Torro Rosso seeing they haven’t finalised their driver line up??

  7. On reflection of the Honda situation and how vunerable F1 could be to other manufacturers pulling out, seems like Max is actually proposing a sensible option for the teams.

    Sure there will be the traditionalists that insist that this is simply not “F1” but we might not have a credible series if we continue with the present status quo, some thing has to be done and it is encouraging to hear Max is on the ball with these proposals.

    Interestingly, Bernie is very quiet, he should be offering support now to the vunerable teams to ensure that they can make it through this period – but that is not Bernie’s way is it.

  8. interesting, mosley’s offer doesn’t seem so bad. teams can still use their own engines, there’s just an offer of a off-the-shelf budget version.

    can’t see which four teams would sign up though, obviously the manufactorers wouldn’t and with force india only recently announcing their deal with mclaren it wouldn’t make sense for them to do so.

    that leaves Williams, STR and Red Bull.

  9. Max has offered a ‘double edge sword’ to the teams but in reality he has made it as glossy as possible. If the teams keep their engines the other teams have to pay more. The Glossy Blackmailer Mosley…… Will sure be interesting how FOTA respond to this. I think FOTA will accept the cosworth engine, maybe we all just have to get used to the idea for a few saddening years….
    Shame about Honda selling up but im sure they will emerge again in the future

  10. Frankly I’d like to know in percentage and value terms to its entire budget, how much Honda spends on F1 and its other racing enterprises including Indy, Nascar, MotoGp, etc.

    I’m disappointed in the way Honda have handled this episode and think it damages them and their reputation. Surely they new about this in advance so as to give another outfit a reasonable amount of time to mount a rescue or take over? They are erratic and unpredictable but have done similar things like this in the past so we should not be too surprised.

  11. HounslowBusGarage
    5th December 2008, 14:03

    Max doesn’t give them much time to think and consult, does he?
    “no later than close of business (5pm CET) on Thursday 11 December 2008.”

  12. One must think about what actually brought these manufacturers to F1, to find out what REALLY is making them pack their collective bags. Manufacturers like Ferrari, Honda, BMW, Mercedes too(me thinks) were here because of the limelight that they could be in. I think we’d have no arguments about that. It is about sporting prowess, though i can’t imagine anyone doing it in this day and age(keeping in mind the investments required), if it weren’t a stage to showcase their prowess, superiority, blah-blah(here’s hoping you get the picture). BMW has already been crying foul about the mucking about with the rules since the year 2003 or so. Some other constructors also stated their fears of F1 being degraded from its stature of the pinnacle of motor-sports, to just another racing series. As a racing and a long time F1 fan, i don’t want that. Now try to imagine the state of mind of manufacturers who invest vast sums of monies. I can imagine at Honda/ BMW/ Ferrari/ Mercedes/ Renault, i wouldn’t be pleased if i were to plough something in machine that wasn’t made by us. What would i say to the loyal buyers and the collective market??? We’ve won in F1, with an engine/transmission made by Cosworth(not to discredit them, am a huge fan of dfv engines and for that matter the engines in Jaguar F1). It is a small fear, one might say and dismiss it with a wave. However, when you see it in the light of the investments that any F1 team has made over years, you could very well tell that this fear is real. Think about it, BMW has been threatening with withdrawal for a while now. If the same mucking about with rules continues, “who’s next” is the question you’d want to ask, not “if”!!!

  13. A bit off topic but I just read this and something crossed my mind about the “standardised” engine:

    This price is based on four teams signing up and includes full technical support at all races and official tests, plus 30,000 km of testing.

    Could it be possible that Max will allow teams to either develop their own components and lose the 30,000km of testing or let them take the standardised components and give them the extra laps?

    Perhaps what Max is trying to make is an option for teams to choose a standardised low cost route to race day and for those who do not want this they can develop their own components, the cost would be the loss of gaining extra testing laps?

  14. I’m sure that BBC can afford to buy Honda F1 team. If they can pay £m in salary…
    It would be interesting to see BBC F1 Team, hehe

  15. hmmmm just thinking about it, did honda end up confirming their drivers or not?

    cause if not it would lead you to believe that they saw this coming for a long time (few months at least).

  16. michael counsell
    6th December 2008, 6:29

    This could be great for Renault + Red Bull considering the Renault engine team disbanded last year. Not sure who else can take it up given contracts. Would be good if this came in next year. F1 needs to cope with the inevitable loss of manufacturers (there were far too many owning teams) and replace them the likes of Epsilon Euskedi and Litespeed who are beginning to manufacture and race single racing cars on tight budgets…

  17. sounds like max is getting a little desperate since we can clearly imagine more than 1 other team pulling out now…

  18. Don’t laugh out loud, but I think Ferrari may be in F1 jeopardy. The profits they make on their car sales are very high, but their volume is low. If they suffer a 30% drop in sales, in conjunction with ailing parent Fiat taking a header, who knows what can happen to their F1 effort?

    That would truly be disastrous.

  19. GeorgeK might actually have a point there. Ferrari did have troubles with their KERS and the 2009 car. Possible reason could be lack of funds for the same.

    And yes; Ferrari makes only luxurious sports cars. Stuff people buy when everything is hunky-dory. Not now; when businessmen are looking to save every single rupee/pound/euro/dollar.
    They could be in some doldrums.

    But Ferrari does have Etihad airways as a major sponsor. And middle-east companies are not affected much by the global meltdown

  20. I ‘m really worry for f1 at the moment. I just keep on imagining gp2 like series with a small grid, racing on tracks which will pay a lot of money (middle east e.g Bahrain, Abu Dhabi etc). I’m just being pessimistic… but still.

  21. Ferrari are primarily a racing team, they have been in F1 longer than any other team, out of every team I would say they are the safest.

  22. F1 needs to get back to basics. It has lost its way. Grown too big, too costly, too exposed to the superficial. Honda’s exit is just the beginning.

    The Japanese, though clever and industrious engineers, do not and never have properly understood what European Grand Prix racing is about. Not to the scale they know about bike racing, for example. The same goes for super-rich middle and far eastern countries with money to burn on super-smart brand new circuits. They think it’s all about superficial gloss and glamour: a circus. And to a great extent that is exactly what F1 appears to outsiders to have become.

    But at heart it was always a strangely complex European idea of supreme competition between brilliant engineers and drivers on circuits with staggering inconsistencies and difficulties; but circuits that also had atmosphere and history that your could smell and breath.

    And with a few honourable exceptions ( Istanbul, Melbourne, Montreal, Interlagos, Suzuka ) it is just not very exportable.

    This is where Bernie and Max are so utterly wrong. Bernie Ecclestone in particular is entirely seduced by the glamour and huge money which has been bloating our once slim and healthy sport. So I think that in about five years time, when this cat 5 economic hurricane has blown away all the dross, we’ll get back to a leaner, tighter, stronger F1 that will be utterly different to the sad situation we have today.

  23. K – I sort of agree – Ferrari, like Sauber, Williams and MacLaren only exist to make F1 cars, and Enzo only sold road cars to fund the racing…..
    But, as has been pointed out, these cars are now the rich man’s toys, and Ferrari themselves depend on the goodwill of FIAT and the Italian government to keep them alive (or sell them).
    I can see Ferrari staying in F1 as an engine supplier, but think about all their overheads – the factory, the test track, Old Schuey – they will only get the budget for next year if they can prove they are competitive.
    On the other hand, MacLaren and Williams will be able to downscale operations to a bare minimum, and shop around for the best engine deal – they have both had Cosworth power before, and been very successful. BMW and Mercedes will both just become engine suppliers again, though I doubt Mr Sauber will want his F1 team back now.
    I can see where Max is going with all of this ‘cost-cutting’, but isn’t it about time he put his foot down against Bernies/FOM/CVC’s rising costs as well? They are far more likely to kill the sport than the teams budgets…..

  24. They are killing Formula One. At first it was a slow death with little changes that started making things generic. This is too much.
    Formula One has been the pinnacle of racing. The best drivers, the best cars, the most advanced technology. This watered down, homogenized insanity has got to stop. It’s going to be so dull!

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