We can’t say this off season is boring although last week started a bit quietly. Toro Rosso announced on Monday that the Honda refugee Takuma Sato will get another chance to prove himself in Jerez.
Then on Thursday FOTA met in London to discuss the cost cuts and spicing up the qualifying. The teams came up with a plan to propose a new low-cost engine for 2011 and other substantial cost-cutting measures for the next two years include drastically reducing the current 30,000km testing limit by half. The new engine is to be 1.8-litre turbocharged unit featuring energy recovery systems and consuming 30% less than current F1 engines.
While FOTA members talked the media started to be full of reports of something big brewing in Honda offices.
On Friday morning Mr. Fukui confrmed the rumours and announced Honda’s withdrawal from Formula 1.
It took only an hour or so for Max Mosley’s reaction. He announced Cosworth as the chosen ones to supply the cheap standard F1 engines from 2010. The engines Mosley described seem to be very different from the engines FOTA proposed so the guys will have some talking to do to clear the discrepancies.
Following the Honda announcement the guessing game started – who (if anybody) will buy Honda F1 team and who will be next to call it quits. The prevailing opinion is that one more team will depart before the 2009 season begins.
Toyota, BMW, Mercedes and Ferrari all said something about staying and cutting the costs. Red Bull’s Helmut Marko confirmed that both Red Bull owned teams are safe (but Red Bull will have to cut the spending by around 30%). Williams does not seem to be planning any exit either – Williams CEO Adam Parr:
“Williams would never choose to leave Formula One. So long as we can rub together a few pennies and put together a half-decent budget, we are going to go racing. If we have to tailor what we spend to a lower income, then we’ll do that. To me, it’s just completely illogical to talk about Williams leaving Formula One.
We believe that our position is pretty much different to all the other teams because every other team in Formula One is primarily dependent on one of its shareholders that is providing either all or a very high proportion of the income for the team. That shareholder is in Formula One primarily for marketing reasons. They can at any time decide that the cost-benefit ratio of leaving Formula One makes sense.
The difference with Williams is that we don’t have a choice about being in F1, that is what we do.“
Couldn’t have said it better, quote of the week … Adam Parr however also expects one more to go:
“I believe that we probably will lose another team before the beginning of next season and there is a very high chance it will be a manufacturer.”
The only two teams keeping radio silence on Honda’s exit are Force India and Renault… I wonder if they have nothing to say or they are trying to say something by saying nothing.
Meanwhile the search for buyers of 2009 front running team to be (AKA Honda) is in full swing. If Nick Fry and Ross Brawn don’t have any ideas where to look all they need to do is to browse the F1 sites on the web for ideas. Martin Leach and DIC (Super Aguri buyers to be), David Richards (Prodrive boss and ex boss of BAR Honda) and even Citroen/Peugeot were connected with purchase of Honda’s F1 operation. David Richards keeps an open mind but he is far from making any hurried decision:
“I’m keeping an open mind. You could say that the facilities Honda have make it an attractive proposition but I disagree. The overheads are not what would be needed in an age when Formula One is cutting costs. I won’t rush into anything.”
Exit of Honda also immediately sparked speculations about future of Jenson Button and Bruno Senna. No one seems to care about Rubens Barrichello any more … Button is said to be open to any offer that would keep him racing in F1 (what a surprise !) and was even connected with a test with Toro Rosso. Toro Rosso however issued a statement that their selection of 2009 drivers will not be affected by Honda developments Honda is ready to release Button from his rather fresh multimillion contract, Brawn and Fry hope Button will stay and race with the team formerly known as Honda F1 racing. Bruno Senna says is either racing in F1 or one more season in GP2.
Here are the links to other posts on Honda exit from F1.
So, Honda is out of Formula 1, what’s next ?
Are the manufacturer teams actually good for Formula 1 ?
From end of Tyrrell to end of Honda – Honda’s latest F1 odyssey in pictures
Two out, nine to go – How will 2009 Formula 1 grid look ?
And here is one by doctorvee that I really recommend !
And finally the reminder – the voting for the 2008 F1 Driver Of The Year enters the final week. After almost 800 votes it is still very close between Hamilton and Alonso. Click here for more on the voting !