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Posted By:   |  05 Dec 2008   |  9:15 pm GMT  |  12 comments

Amazing day today. Been flat out writing about the Honda withdrawal and where it leaves F1. Took part in the Max Mosley teleconference this afternoon and spoke to many figures within the sport. The main points I’ve come across are these:

Honda is very serious about selling the team but it will be a streamlined outfit they sell, with no more than 200 employees ( current figure is over 650) and capable of running on £40-50 million per year (current figure more like three times that)

There is no engine supply in the package because next year F1 moves to three race engines and Honda doesn’t have enough of these ready yet, so it is likely to be a customer supply of Ferraris and the car will have to be re-optimised around this, which will take a bit of work.

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What a blow but as already mentioned, it just goes to show you that the cash cow that epitomised F1 of late is not immune to global financial problems. My interest in F1 was dropping, not at the lack of racing but the lost off 'sport' to 'business deals' and emerging markets, resulting in us losing challenging and historic circuits. The soul of F1 was becoming too commercial.

Honda have been in and out since the 60s - unlike other manufacturers, so there is no issue there. More importantly are is a a lot of Honda epmployees who, potentially will have to find work elsewhere in the F1 industry. Which brings us to Honda drivers and Ross B. I had high hopes for Ross' 2009 strategy. There is no doubt we have been robbed of judging (and enjoying) Jenson's talent in a car powered by a front running team. The closest we came was when David Richards was running BAR / Honda and subsequently let go - a clear example that money and corporates do not buy success all the time.

Tantilising though is the prospect of Jenson driving a 3rd McLaren - a wish I have had for years. I have a feeling that less technical grip would suit his style.

Roll on the 2009 championship. We have another crisis in F1. At least it is not from within.



Have to say James that although the current crisis is bad for F1 it's been fascinating reading your articles on it - they've been top notch.

I wonder who the two potential failure teams are that those FOTA members are worried about? I'd guess Toyota and STR (Mateschitz not really wanting to support two teams any more)? Let's hope it doesn't come to them pulling out.

I'm betting the 3-car team situation could be a bit messy.


toyota won't pull out. They will be rubbing their hands together. With Honda out of the frame, the japanese market is now theirs. Expect to see suzuka not coming back too, with Toyotas fuji being the only japanese grand prix.


It would be a shame if they decide to use a single engine supplier system for Formula 1.

I read somewhere that Alonso has already threated to quit F1 if single engine supplier system applies.


What is the future of F1 ?
I wish I knew the answer but I did some research on the number of cars being entered for Grand Prix over the last twenty years. I took the Monaco GP as my sample as this is mid season and has appeared in the calendar for all of the last twenty years. In 1989 38 cars were entered for the Grand Prix. Of those 26 qualified and took the start. The number of cars allowed to take the start of races fluctuated over the years from 26 to the current figure of 20. The number of cars entered in 2008 was just 20. The trend is obvious and looks likely to continue down. There have been financial slumps before but then the sport was not run by motor manufacturers and the effects were limited. If you want to see the full detail research in chart form you can see it on my website. I understand that you cannot publish links here, but if you google for f1charts you will probably find it.
Let us hope that we have full grids for 2009 even if it means 3 car teams. However I would much prefer to have at least 10 teams in the 2009 season.



How will the FIA ensure that a team's own engine will be equal in power to the Cosworth? And that a team-built engine to Cosworth's specs isn't ever so slightly "optimised" for additional power. It looks like yet another can of worms.


This is the mad situation isn't it? If F1 was a normal business, it couldn't get away with charging so much for a product that delivers so little. The closed signs would have gone up years ago!

F1 spends too much money and produces a product that is, to the casual TV viewer, difficult to comprehend, over complicated with rules, processional and usually very, very dull!

If you add to this 'state of the art' race circuits that are struggling to make money, ticket prices rising combined with fewer cars of the circuit - F1 is looking less and less appealing to the masses.

F1 has always spent too much money. Even before the war, Germany was throwing Reichsmark after Reichsmark at Auto Union & Mercedes-Benz in the pursuit of motoring supremacy. Madness. What do we have now? Cost cutting where a 'new technology' is introduced; a technology that costs millions to research and develop.

Will the show get better with KERS - Most drivers don't think so!

F1 is the highest echelon of motor-racing so it will cost money - but surely it has to deliver the goods - consistently exciting racing - race after race after race.

My friends know I love F1 but cannot understand how I enjoy something they see as dull - they love their motorsports but fail to see how something so expensive usually fails to deliver excitement & quality racing.

I tell them you have to treat F1 like a soap opera. Learn to love the characters and the storyline and you will get some rewards from the 'back-story' as you'll very rarely get a reward from watching the race.

I must say that over the last few years I've had my 'faith' tested and I'm sorry to say that even seeing Lewis Hamilton win the WC hasn't restored that faith.

To me, the best thing about an F1 weekend is obvious - GP2!


the later someone pulled out the longer the bubble would go on growing. the bigger the bubble the louder the burst

looks like it had to take a major player to call it quits for everybody to realize what is going on

the game that started around 2000 may now be finally over and F1 may go back to what it is primarily about, racing ... not a toy for those with loads of money to burn ...


One thing that keeps getting lost in all of this "cost cutting" talk is Bernies pound of flesh. We have hockenheim saying they cant even support a race once every 2 years without local state help because of the exhorbitant fees required by FOM to stage the race. France, Canada and Indianapolis have also gone by the wayside due to the fees. The "new world" GP`s will not be paying those sums as readily as before due to the economic downturn (perfect example are the recent stories surrounding shanghai). I think in the interests of the sport the cost of hosting the races should come down otherwise we will have a championsip based in asia/middle east (can you imagine F1 ASIA!!!!!), once this happens all the "soul" of F1 will be lost as all of the charismatic circuits (istanbul park really being the only new circuit built in the last 20 years that captures the imagination of the fan/driver) are based in Europe. I know its not going to be a poluar thought but Honda withdrawing could be good for F1, get the manufacturers out of F1 and lets get back to the racing teams racing rather than the manufacturers conducting expensive market reasearch and product placement. There are basically 3 teams only that are on the grid now with racing being the only reason they exist. Williams,Force India (although this is a bit of a stretch as it is really a shop window for India) and RBR. McLaren are not classed in this as they are more or less a corporate arm of Mercedes.

However i sincerly hope that Ross and Nick can find a serious buyer for the team as it would be a shame for a RB headed car not to see the light of day especially as it has had neraly 12 months gestation and should be onthe pace.


I hope Matthew Villari is wrong about losing Suzuka, now that's a far bigger tragedy than losing Honda! Losing the second greatest circuit in F1 after Spa is a huge mistake.

I don't think Honda can fairly be blamed for pushing up costs in F1 - it's not like they were ever a genuine threat to anyone but Jordan and Minardi regardless of how much money they spent. They had to be one of the least efficient teams at turning dollars into points. The only budgets with significant impact on the sport belong to Ferrari and McLaren.


JA writes: I don't see why Suzuka shouldn't host the GP. It did throughout the period in the 1990s when Honda wasn't in F1, after the 1992 pull out. Although Honda owns it, the circuit is a business in its own right and the demand there is huge.


maybe slightly off topic, but re taking part in the max mosely telecon, was it mentioned how the new cost cutting standardised engine is supposed to provide stability for F1 looking forward, when no manufacturer actually wants it?

also, with regard to pushing up to the costs in F1. Max has recently stated that the tightness of the rules and regulations is what has pushed costs up so massively high, with teams chasing tiny incremental gains on a curve of dimishing returns. don't the FIA make the rules?

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