December 05, 2008
Bombshell news today, as Honda announced their decision to pull out of Formula 1, effective immediately.
"Honda Motor Co. has come to the conclusion that we will withdraw from all Formula One activities, making 2008 the last season for participation," said Takeo Fukui, president of Honda Motors. He cited the costs of the sport, lousy car sales, and the global economy as reasons.
Honda supplied engines to BAR from 2000 to 2005, then took the team over in 2006, but has had a long history in the sport to boot, originally joining F1 in the mid 1960s. Earlier this season, they withdrew funding from their junior team, SuperAguri, citing rising costs. This led to SuperAguri closing up shop.
Honda will spend the month trying to sell the team, but considering the state of the global economy, it seems unlikely that there'll be much interest. If nobody steps forward, they'll start laying off staff and (presumably) auctioning off stuff.
Of course, this leaves Jensen Button and Rubens Barrichello without drives for 2009. I know I'm curious as to what sort of interest they'll generate; neither has burned up the track as of late, but that's certainly due to the miserable Honda chassis. Remember, Button won the 2006 Hungarian GP (albeit in the wet, with breakdowns from both HWMNBN and Slappy Schumacher), and Barrichello outdrove Button in 2008, earning 11 points to Button's 3. There still are a few seats out available out there, and I'll guess that one of the two will get a drive. And then there's Ross Brawn, team principal and architect of Ferrari's dominance in the first half of this decade; where will HE end up?
I've been hard on both the team and the drivers over the past few years, but I didn't want them to leave the sport. Like Toyota, they spent too much money for (practically) no results. They could have dominated F1 if they used their cash well. The 2007 windtunnel debacle, though, is a perfect example of why they were so unsuccessful (short version: at the beginning of the season, they didn't calibrate their wind-tunnel correctly. All their aerodynamic data was wrong, and as a result, every fix they put on the car just made things worse).
Nine teams, 18 cars will take to the grid in Australia. That'll be VERY strange...
That is sad news, indeed. :-(
It was bound to happen, though, when you look at the number of sponsors that have already left NASCAR. Hard to justify spending millions of dollars on sports in this economy.
Posted by: Mallory at December 05, 2008 07:39 AM (3sife)
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at December 05, 2008 02:02 PM (+rSRq)
This guy thinks that Honda is walking away because they're tired of losing. So he doesn't think this presages a collapse of the sport.
Sure hope he's right.
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at December 06, 2008 01:27 PM (+rSRq)
*shrug* They wrote off SuperAguri to save money, after all...
Posted by: Wonderduck at December 06, 2008 06:32 PM (jcrUS)
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