Posted on December 4, 2008
Honda pull out of F1..Toyota next? | James Allen on F1 – The official James Allen website on F1

Honda announced this morning that it is withdrawing from Formula 1. It is putting its team up for sale and will continue to fund the team for three months, but if no buyer is found by March then the team will be closed down.

There is a sense of shock in Japan about this. Apparently there have been rumours out there during the last week that Toyota was building up to make an announcement of this kind, but not Honda. All eyes are now on Toyota to see what their next move will be.

Honda president Fukui made the announcement in the early hours of this morning. My sources suggest that this was quite a sudden decision, despite rumours that all was not well at Honda. This is all about trade, or lack of it.

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Honda pull out of F1..Toyota next?
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  1.   1. Posted By: Eric
        Date: December 4th, 2008 @ 8:44 pm 

    The first thing I did was check that it wasn’t April 1. Shocking news and you’ve scooped BBC and ITV to boot!

    Can’t believe it.


  2.   2. Posted By: F1: Jenson Button’s drive about to disappear | Brits on Pole
        Date: December 4th, 2008 @ 8:46 pm 

    [...] Mosley will now want to make sure that radical steps are taken immediately to shore up the health of sport and I expect him to use Honda’s withdrawal as a trigger for making some big changes in the next week or so. Read full piece here… [...]

  3.   3. Posted By: David
        Date: December 4th, 2008 @ 8:49 pm 

    A big surprise – I could imagine Toyota pulling out of F1 as they never seem to have made much progress, but this is strange timing from Honda coming just as Ross Brawn settles in and unveils his first car.

    I’m sorry for Jenson – he has struggled along for several years now on the promise of a bright new dawn and now he is left with little chance of a drive next year. Could Ron Dennis be persuaded to send Kovalainen to Force India and put Button alongside Lewis?


  4.   4. Posted By: Stephen Richardson
        Date: December 4th, 2008 @ 8:54 pm 

    Nice Scoop James,

    Gonna miss you on TV



  5.   5. Posted By: James
        Date: December 4th, 2008 @ 8:56 pm 

    What a kick in the teeth this would be for Jenson Button. Promised a competitive car next year and potential to win races and BANG. This hits him. I’m sure the only reason Jenson stuck around with Honda was because of this promose of a competitive car.

    Hopefully DIC can patch something up, because it would be a shame to see Jenson lose a racing seat, and a shame to see Ross Brawn out of the sport again!


  6.   6. Posted By: Chaz
        Date: December 4th, 2008 @ 8:58 pm 

    This is indeed sad news…


  7.   7. Posted By: arporter
        Date: December 4th, 2008 @ 9:08 pm 

    Is this an opportunity for Prodrive to act on their interest in having an f1 team? With David Richards former involvement with BAR makes it a plausible option


  8.   8. Posted By: Scott
        Date: December 4th, 2008 @ 9:22 pm 

    Remember what happened in CART? When Toyota bolted, even a company with Honda’s engineering pedigree decided they’d rather be making rev limited equipment for crapwagons than 1000 bhp turbocharged engines. These two usually follow each other.

    With regards to the FT report on Honda’s budget, I was discussing that earlier this evening. Doesn’t the figure include Super Aguri’s costs?

    As for DIC, they’re more than likely too much monitoring the Liverpool situation. Hicks and Gillette have a payment they must make soon, and I can’t see the banks being willing to refinance again. Just look at Valencia’s situation.

    Scott Dryden


  9.   9. Posted By: Bob
        Date: December 4th, 2008 @ 10:06 pm 

    This is an absolute disaster. With Honda gone will Toyota feel the need to carry on?

    A 16 car grid would be farcical. No-one in their right mind would start an F1 outfit in the current financial climate.

    All of the manufacturer teams are at risk. And all after the best season most people can remember.


  10.   10. Posted By: Malcolm46
        Date: December 4th, 2008 @ 10:27 pm 


    Congratualtions on getting the scoop, but it is bad news.
    The credit crunch is really hitting everywhere now. Honda must be regretting not putting some stickers on the side of the car for the last two years now. But it means so many staff could lose their jobs. It seems strange to cut so quickly having invested all that money into 2009. What must Button and Brawn be thinking?

    Where does this end though. Do Toyota want to continue? Renault have always been a bit sceptical of F1. Torro Rosso is obviously available to buy. Where will it end?

    Should Bernie pump in some of the millions he has made out of F1 to now help F1 though this period because we cant really lose to many more teams?


  11.   11. Posted By: krad
        Date: December 4th, 2008 @ 10:45 pm 

    This could be good in the long run, but will be difficult in the next few years. I’d love to see a return to the old days where there was real innovation, when a team that was back of the grid one season could be challenging for races the next. Dont get me wrong the last few seasons where awesome, but the team standings were predictable.

    Alturnatively we could see 3 car teams. That would be interesting in the driver market with seat up for grabs in macca, ferrari and beema. Could give Button, Nico and others a chance for a title


  12.   12. Posted By: Gary Davies
        Date: December 4th, 2008 @ 10:58 pm 

    Nice scoop James.


  13.   13. Posted By: mattanddebz
        Date: December 4th, 2008 @ 11:01 pm 

    Wow. Now there’s some F1 news i wasn’t expecting.

    Although having said that the signs were there i guess. Poor season after poor season, reduced manufacturing of road cars across the world and a whopping 41% drop in sales.

    I’ve been a Jenson fan since he first appeared in F1. I seriously hope he finds another drive as he deserves it. I have no doubt he’d be up the front of the grid if only for a decent car!

    The problem with teams dropping out is it’s hardly an attractive proposition for potential new teams. Why join F1 when even the big companies don’t think it’s worth it?

    I think we can expect some serious changes in F1 over the next few years, not only to make it a more attractive sport for viewers but to make it attractive enough for teams to stay in it!


  14.   14. Posted By: Jenny Mac
        Date: December 4th, 2008 @ 11:22 pm 

    Wow! Big shock. Will David Richards step in? Be nice to have him back in F1 again.

    The future of F1 as a whole is looking a bit bleak at the moment. I sincerely hope Honda finds a buyer and I hope Toyota stays too. Losing both of them would be a massive blow to the sport.

    Maybe Bernie can come up with a solution!?!


  15.   15. Posted By: evil g
        Date: December 4th, 2008 @ 11:34 pm 

    This is a consequence of Nick Fry’s brilliant idea to get rid of all the sponsors.

    The bright sparks in Japan that booted David Richards out and replaced him with this twit are responsible.

    As for Button – frankly, who cares? He would have spent the season not doing very well and finding it increasingly difficult to hide his jealousy of Lewis Hamilton.

    Perhaps Honda could return in a few years and supply engines to Williams.


  16.   16. Posted By: Ace Best
        Date: December 5th, 2008 @ 2:15 am 

    I’m really schocked and terrified by this news.Honda is the one team I expected to make a great progress in 2009.I understand that the economy crisis is a huge problem.I’m also aware that even Ford had given up to this situation,but I’ve never thought that this would effect formula 1.I wouldn’t be so schocked if it’s Force India or Torro Rosso.But Honda????


  17.   17. Posted By: rpaco
        Date: December 5th, 2008 @ 7:12 am 

    Unfortunately Bernie has become part of the problem not the solution. As i said in another thread here, only the top 4 or 5 teams would be interested in competing for medals. Why would th elowere teams bother turning up?
    Bernie’s millions are being reserved for someone he looks up to, his tall wife, I suspect her highly paid lawers will prevent him “dumping” a large chunk of what is not already in her name into Honda.
    I agree with Jenny Mac though, we need Dave Richards back, if he will agree after his previous treatment.
    Another pre-Christmas employment bombshell! Companies are closing down or shedding staff faster that you can write their names in the UK.


  18.   18. Posted By: Lee Grant
        Date: December 5th, 2008 @ 8:33 am 

    Oh Mr Ecclestone, what have you done?

    F1 is too rich – even for a company such as Honda. It doesn’t take much of a downturn in sales before the Financial Director of a big company decides they need to cut back.

    Maybe the £500 million spent on making Honda a bit of a joke and stalling the careers of a decent British driver (and I don’t mean JB) is finally deemed as too far!

    I do hope that the other manufacturers will stave off the inevitable questioning from their ‘bean counters’. Otherwise we could see a manufacturing exodus from F1 and where would we be then!

    You have to feel for the people in the factory that have put their heart and souls into Honda F1. This is a horrible time for them.

    Not for the first time, could David Richards be the saviour of Honda?


  19.   19. Posted By: Oscar
        Date: December 5th, 2008 @ 8:37 am 

    I’m gutted about this news, it was going to be one of the big highlights of F1 next year to see what Honda had come up with. They’ve been working on next years car for most of the season and there was a real possiblity they could have moved back up the grid. Feel so sorry for all the guys who’ve lost their jobs and the fact we won’t be seeing a Brawn, Button, Senna lineup next year! :(


  20.   20. Posted By: he11andback
        Date: December 5th, 2008 @ 9:11 am 

    A loss for the sport and a real kick in the nuts for Jenson Button who has shown huge loyalty to a team that, since he earned them their first victory, have delivered extremely substandard equipment.

    I’d have thought it unlikely that someone will step into the breach given the current economic climate, though I’d love to be proved wrong.


  21.   21. Posted By: Finn
        Date: December 5th, 2008 @ 9:28 am 

    This might be good news – a team led by Ross Brawn and without the meddling Japanese owners could have a good future in F1. They just need to find an investor.

    Time for a Brawn/Schumacher led team?

    Jenson had a poor year – if he is left without a drive, it will be his own fault.

    Maybe some teams will run 3 cars.


  22.   22. Posted By: Bjorn
        Date: December 5th, 2008 @ 9:47 am 

    I do not see that loosing Honda is such a big problem. Someone else will come along, as they always do.

    Jenson may be a good, but not great driver, I belive this will be the end for him, in F1 that is.

    I do belive that the constant changes to the rules and regulations is a far bigger problem. And, ugly cars, as the 2009′s are, will not help in getting new sponsors.


  23.   23. Posted By: jose
        Date: December 5th, 2008 @ 9:54 am 

    Shame on them:
    There is a big difference between the people running the team now, and the true racing people running it in the eighties.
    They entered f1 to win again, and now they are pulling out, using just an excuse, without getting the job done.
    I do not thing i would buy one of their cars now. A renault looks much more attractive to me.
    I hope they do not push toyota, to use the same excuse, and they pull out as well.
    Not big loss on the pilots side. Barrichello was on his way out already, and button is not very special.
    If you look at it, the pilots is one of the reasons they are pulling out. If they had achieved signing fernando alonso, like they were trying. Would they have quit this fast?


  24.   24. Posted By: Glen D
        Date: December 5th, 2008 @ 10:33 am 

    Honda was/is one of the biggest teams on the grids even if the last 2 years have not been great.

    The investment put in by Honda for ’09 will surly be snapped up by someone (I hope anyway).

    If the Honda cars, or whatever they may be, are not on the grid for the first race then it will be a big loss to F1.

    Maybe this was a decision taken too quickly? Only time will tell….


  25.   25. Posted By: Finn
        Date: December 5th, 2008 @ 10:55 am 

    Honda have been rubbish as a team (good engine builders in the past).

    Dance with delight to celebrate the end of the Honda era. I hope the team survives with a new owner who will let Ross build a WCC team.

    But don’t cry over Honda.


  26.   26. Posted By: garyquigley
        Date: December 5th, 2008 @ 11:11 am 

    I think that Formula One is going to have to emerge from all of this as a different animal. It is very obvious that when a company like Honda pulls out, it is only a matter of time before the likes of Toyota and others follow. Who knows, we have a global economy that is turning on its head, and we even may have a day with Ferrari pull out of it…


  27.   27. Posted By: Honda to quit F1 « Gary Quigley - A geek for all seasons!
        Date: December 5th, 2008 @ 11:32 am 

    [...] James Allen says in his blog that this may be the first of many, I certainly hope not but with economic conditions like those that we are under at the moment I can’t see many people buying Ferraris, BMWs or Mercedes in any great numbers for the foreseeable future. [...]

  28.   28. Posted By: Red Five
        Date: December 5th, 2008 @ 12:13 pm 

    Finn, I’m more worried about the hundreds of people likely to lose their jobs than the Honda name going from F1.

    I just think they shuld have announced that next year was their last season and given the 2009 car they’ve already spent a lot of their money on the chance to shine. I think giving such a short time to find a buyer before just closing the team down is not a great way to act, and they should have the decency to supply the engines and drivetrain at least to any new owner.


  29.   29. Posted By: Jonathan Trimble
        Date: December 5th, 2008 @ 12:29 pm 

    Looks like DC saw what was coming with big changes in F1 and bailed out…just right too! The racing will not be as interesting if there are fewer teams but with an extra car in those teams….the more teams and cars on track, the more interesting the racing! If any of the smaller teams are looking a driver, i’m available…I won at Nutts Corner in the 125 Gearbox class once!


  30.   30. Posted By: Michelin Man
        Date: December 5th, 2008 @ 1:25 pm 

    A black day for Honda.

    What I don’t understand at all is the timing of this. For years Honda have put up with the (considerable) pain of watching their cars at the back of the grid and their response was always to redouble their efforts. You got a sense that the Honda management were behind the F1 efforts. It never looked like they were going to do a “Ford”: Ask what is the point of running Jaguar, and ditch it. Honda is committed to racing remember Soichiro words that if it wasn’t for racing there would be no Honda.

    And now, seemingly at the cusp of restoring some pride in the venerable big H, Mr Fukui pulls the plug: Ross Brown is on board about to reveal his own car after spending almost 2 years on it; £150mi already committed form last year; all teams speaking with one voice on cost cutting… Surely not now. I don’t understand this at all.

    But then again, Honda often does things that are bizarre. In my mind they never ever recovered from sacking David Richards. He took them to second in the constructors, and I was convinced they were going to do a BMW the next year. Yet, they sacked him, unbelievably.

    James, if you happen to read this, first a sincere thank you for this blog, I could do away with everything else, you are an F1 pillar. Back on to DC, why did Honda make this catastrophic decision to sack him, so suddenly, at the back of their best ever season?


  31.   31. Posted By: David
        Date: December 5th, 2008 @ 1:33 pm 

    So guys, would you prefer more radical cost-cutting measures, or instead just no F1? Clearly Max isn’t as ‘mad’ as we make him out to be.


  32.   32. Posted By: KAUSHAL
        Date: December 5th, 2008 @ 1:43 pm 

    The toyata president has said that they won’t quit F1 even if recession continues. some relief


  33.   33. Posted By: L'interista
        Date: December 5th, 2008 @ 2:10 pm 

    Is it possible that the problem may not be simply to find a buyer for Honda but rather a buyer for F1?

    The debt mountain crippling the sport since the various manipulations that took it to Kirsch et al (?) and back again into so-called “private” hands appear to have burdened the industry to the point where the benefits for manufacturers decreased sharply just as the sport began to struggle to deliver direct brand benefit to them in traditional markets where competition for sports entertainment content is hottest.

    Renault was the last manufacturer to actually use its World Championship win in a main street advertising campaign — and it left F1 the following year for a bit of “quiet time”. And Ford, who may yet go “bang” without a federal bailout, decided some time back to put its marketing muscle behind the Champions League rather than continue to fund the Stewart F1 team. And all along production costs have sky-rocketed while traditionally generous sponsors, like tobacco companies, were systematically alienated. In their place have came media companies like Vodafone: once credit rich but saddled with a balance sheet that matches their corporate colours.

    Can you imagine how the Premiership might be affected if instead of being an earner for the clubs, the EPL was paying out a lion’s share of its TV revenues to service its own debt? You might find even fewer teams at the start of next football season than there will be cars on the grid for the first race of 09.

    So if I were a gazillionnaire … I might decide to wait a while, and who knows: maybe the whole circus will be up for grabs soon?


  34.   34. Posted By: Andrew Fovargue
        Date: December 5th, 2008 @ 2:14 pm 

    Formula One is just a vanity project for the manufacturers. Nobody has ever bought a Honda Jazz on the basis of their Formula One success.

    I’d not be surprised to see other teams withdraw too. Williams, Torro Rosso, Toyota, possibly even Renault. I’m not saything they will, but can appreciate how difficult it must be for them to operate as businesses in this climate.

    There’ll always be Formula One though, narrowing of the field will just pave the way for the return of canny privateers types in the Eddie Jordan / Ken Tyrrell mould. No bad thing IMO.


  35.   35. Posted By: Finn
        Date: December 5th, 2008 @ 2:28 pm 

    Red Five – I don’t want the team to disappear … I really hope that people keep their jobs. But I am happy to see the back of Honda as a team owner and hope that a new owner can be found.


  36.   36. Posted By: john g
        Date: December 5th, 2008 @ 5:49 pm 

    timing seems strange to me – having put so much in for the 2009 season, they finally get a chance to be competitive and pull the plug right at the last, so that if they don’t get a buyer by march it’s over.

    it was not a shock looking at the numbers, for $ spent vs points won, honda were clearly dangling a long way off the bottom of the list.

    toyota is starting to get in shape and have publicly stated that they have no intention to leave F1. BMW have done even better and have just said the same. honda’s inefficient structure, poor design and personel decisions, and bizarre sponsorship philosophy have (in my opinion) killed their racing team, and these are things specific to honda.

    goes to show tho, all of max’s (idiotic) ideas on cost saving failed. super aguri, and now honda. also shows that KERS has no road relevance either in technology or marketing.


  37.   37. Posted By: gareth price
        Date: December 5th, 2008 @ 8:48 pm 

    A sad day for everyone. Lets just hope someone buys up the team – BBC reporting 3 interested buyers making serious offers.


  38.   38. Posted By: Honda: a one-off or the first of many? | F1 Fanatic - The Formula 1 Blog | F1 news, cars, drivers and more
        Date: December 7th, 2008 @ 11:12 am 

    [...] people who run the motor sport team won’t make the decision to cut it or keep it. This quote from James Allen reveals the dizzying speed with which an F1 team gets axed in the present economic climate: It [...]

  39.   39. Posted By: Honda’s withdrawal in context « vee8 - a Formula 1 blog
        Date: December 8th, 2008 @ 12:02 am 

    [...] because of its suddenness. The speed with which the decision was taken is made clear when you read James Allen’s account. There is also the fact that at the start of this year Honda owned not one but two F1 teams. Now [...]

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