Has It All Gone Pear-Shaped At Brackley?

Has It All Gone Pear-Shaped At Brackley?

When Honda first withdrew from Formula One back in early December of last year, the motoring company’s chiefs said they would do all they would to sell the squad on and keep the employees safe in their positions. Since then, the ride has been bumpy to say the least while there have been some optimistic highs for the Brackley team, the lows have also come in equal measure. And today, it would appear that perhaps the final low has arrived…

First it was Carlos Slim who denied being a potential purchaser for the Honda outfit, and then Dave Richards pulled out of the running. Then it was the turn of the management to add some hope to a deal being made before the first race, and more recently, Richard Branson has been associated with the squad. Even Bernie Ecclestone has apparently had his piggy bank rejected by the company chiefs.

Originally, Nick Fry and Ross Brawn stated that they had received a lot of interest in the team and had whittled the offers down to a dozen serious possibilities. However, Honda CEO Takeo Fukui told the press in Tokyo today they have made little progress in finding a purchaser since the team went up for sale in December.

There are various offers for the team but we have not seen any serious buyer yet. We find the sale process difficult. Takeo Fukui.

This slaps Ross Brawn’s and Nick Fry’s previous comments down. In late December and early January, the current team principal and team CEO spoke of lots of interested parties.

There has been a huge amount of interest. It’s now got to the stage where we need to filter out the serious from the not so serious. We’re all hopeful that something will happen and we’re anxious to turn up the wick again in the new year. Ross Brawn, speaking in late-December, 2008.

It’s looking very positive at the moment. We had, as you might expect, a huge amount of interest at the start, probably well in excess of 30 groups came to us. We have now narrowed that down to something in the region of a dozen, and we’re currently talking to Honda about what is the best bet for the future. Nick Fry, speaking in early January, 2009.

With less than a month to go before the cars need to be sent over to Australia for the first race of the year, a deal that would ensure the survival of the squad is looking slimmer and slimmer. According to Autosport, Mercedes-Benz have apparently put a deadline of this evening (Monday 23rd) to commit to purchasing their engine units for the upcoming season.

The clock continues to tick…

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10 comments

  • I was worried last night on Sidepodchat that I had a bit of an ‘Anti-Honda’ rant … after seeing this I’m not so worried now. Surely Honda could have exited the sport with a bit more class and tact than this?

  • Surely Honda could have exited the sport with a bit more class and tact than this?

    Well it’s not like they exited Super Aguri with much class or tact! Combined with Honda’s issues with some of the potential purchasers of Super Aguri last year, I’m not surprised the company hasn’t been able to sell the squad yet. I think it is a shame, but I’m not surprised.

  • Without knowing what offers have been made to for the Honda team, I get the impression that the Honda Corporation don’t really want to sell the team or they’re standards are too high.

    With the likely-hood that they won’t make it to Melbourne, what do you think will happen about the minimum 20 car rule?

  • there have been some optimistic highs for the Brackley team, the lows have also come in equal measure

    the thing is – were they any highs ? we have heard a lot but how much of that was really happening ? how much of that were just wishes of Honda F1 management leaked to media ?

    remember how Ross Brawn talked about the engine deal with Ferrari ? I may be wrong but I think that there was no word on Honda future from Ross Brawn since the moment Ferrari ruled out engine supply to the team

    if what is being talked about around the web for last few hours is to be believed, we may hear some definitive answers very soon. but again, how much of the stories are true and how much are rumours only those who unleashed them know …

  • I get the impression that the Honda Corporation don’t really want to sell the team or they’re standards are too high.

    Up until late-morning, that was the general consensus among the F1-sites. The rumour (and despite what anyone might say, it is just a rumour until confirmed) of an imminent buy-out by the management sends out a different message. It isn’t quite as on-song as a regular sale, but if it is true, then maybe Honda are willing to sell.

    With the likely-hood that they won’t make it to Melbourne, what do you think will happen about the minimum 20 car rule?

    To be honest, this confuses the heck out of me. Maybe Alianora can clarify for us if she stops by this evening, but I’m under the impression it isn’t actually a rule. It is just an unwritten agreement between Bernie and, erm, Max, maybe?

    If there does have to be 20 cars, then I imagine Ferrari and McLaren would be asked to field an extra car each as they are presumably the better funded of all the teams and also have the capacity. Stick Pedro De La Rosa or Paul di Resta in an MP4-24 and maybe Marc Gene in an F60 and send them out to compete for positions, if not for points. but at the moment, I honestly have no idea. I’ll look into it though and see I can gain any solid answers.

    the thing is – were they any highs ? we have heard a lot but how much of that was really happening ?

    That’s actually a very good point, Milos. When I wrote that line, I was thinking of the possibility of Richards reigniting his Prodrive dream, or Branson pouring lots of his Virgin money into the squad. Of course, they’re not really highs as they didn’t come to fruition.

    Not having to put up with seeing another Earth car livery – that’s probably a reasonable high for those that didn’t like it. 🙂

  • With the likely-hood that they won’t make it to Melbourne, what do you think will happen about the minimum 20 car rule?

    To be honest, this confuses the heck out of me. Maybe Alianora can clarify for us if she stops by this evening, but I’m under the impression it isn’t actually a rule {Ollie – previous comment}

    It’s a Concorde Agreement rule, rather than anything in the Sporting or Technical Regulations. (The FIA are ignoring Concorde when convenient at the moment, but the teams and Bernie are). If there are fewer than 10 teams (i.e. 20 cars), the FIA can order the teams to supply enough third cars to make up the numbers.

    The teams are selected by ballot. McLaren and Ferrari might get the votes in this instance, but it’s not a guarantee.

    The third cars are not eligible for championship points or any other external rewards, but are obliged to be run in the same way as the first two cars. So a team can’t run car 3 as a rolling spare the way that Andrea Moda treated Perry McCarthy’s car as a rolling spare for his team-mate back in 1992 for about the same reason.

    If the teams balloted do not run the third car or decide not to run it in the spirit of the regulations, then it can get as big a fine as the FIA chooses to issue. I believe all the teams together can be fined if they take joint action against the third car measure (for instance by refusing to participate or abide by the decision of the ballot). For that reason alone, I think the FIA will conveniently remember that the Concorde Agreement is technically still in force.

    Any driver with a Super Licence that doesn’t already have a F1 seat and can secure a contract with a team running a third car may drive.

  • Does that answer your question, Stephen? 🙂

    Thank you very much, Alia. It’s always a pleasure to have your knowledge and well-structured responses around when the rest of us are scratching our heads. 🙂

  • Honda really has left everyone high & dry, haven’t they? Will keep that in mind next time I am in the market to purchase a new car….

    Really, couldn’t they have done what Mateschitz did & announce that the team would be for sale 12 months down the track, giving everyone time to make alternative arrangements.

    Shame, Honda, shame.

  • Ollie and Stephen, you’re very welcome.

    Pink Peril, it would have been sensible for Honda to go down the MAteschitz route. Unfortunately they didn’t learn from the Sato episode that it’s always a good idea to leave yourself an escape route.

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