Last week Honda announced its imminent withdrawal from Formula 1, causing fans, administrators and some of the teams themselves to panic and state publicly that Formula 1 is in crisis may be on the brink of collapse. In my opinion this is just a load of rubbish and we should not panic just yet.
Firstly Honda’s situation cannot be compared to any of the other teams. For the last two seasons Honda has not had any sponsorship, meaning that all of the money that they have had to spend on developing and running their car has had to come from Honda. They have instead been running the car in the much ridiculed Earth Dream livery that is supposed to promote environmental friendliness, which is very ironic since F1 is an environmentally unfriendly sport. In reality if they had of been able to get a sponsor to help pay their bills they would have remained in F1, which is really an indictment on the way that their CEO Nick Fry has been running the company.
It seems like the Honda F1 team is going to be bought out by David Richards’ Prodrive operation, who currently run the Suburu team in the World Rally Championship as well as Aston Martin at Le Mans. It will be quite ironic if Richards does buy the team as he was ousted from the CEO position by Fry. (Karma’s a bitch ain’t it!)
There has been a rumbling that another Formula 1 team will disappear from the grid before the circus arrives in Melbourne in March, but again I feel that this is rubbish. The team that is most likely to disappear is Williams, yet they have publicly said that have a new sponsor and that they almost have a full budget for 2009. Williams are a Formula 1 company and will compete in F1 as long as they have $1 in the bank.
Williams themselves have cast aspersions at rival Red Bull Racing saying that they will most likely be the team that will disappear next year. This just seems like Williams’ way of taking the heat off themselves. Red Bull has just bought back shares of Toro Rosso from Gerhard Berger, and promoted Sebatian Vettel, the hottest driver in F1 at the moment, into the main Red Bull team. Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitzhas said that bothhis teams will continue in 2009, and he certainly has enough money to keep both teams affloat considering he is the 317th richest person in the world.
Then we have the debate over which engines will be used from 2010. FIApresident Max Mosley has apparently signed an agreement with Cosworth to produce cheap engines to all teams from 2010, something that has the support of independent teams Williams, Force India, Red Bull and Toro Rosso, but naturally enough not from Ferrari, McLaren Mercedes, BMW and Toyota. It is rumoured that Renault may have sided with the independent teams, somethingthey have denied. Mosley says that this is something that F1 needs to bring costs down, yet it seems to be one of his more hair brained ideas as I cannot see Ferrari, Merecedes, BMW or Toyota wanted someone elses engines to power their cars. (It’s not good for advertising!) Mosley has sort of compromised saying that they can make their own engines as long as they follow the blueprint set out by Cosworth, which is not really much of a compromise, although Max has said that after a couple of years when the financial crisis has passed, F1 will return to being the high tech’ sport it should always have been.
As I have said, Formula 1 will survive this crisis.