HONDA QUIT F1 DUE TO GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS
TOKYO: Honda delivered a major blow to Formula One yesterday by withdrawing from the sport with immediate effect, Japan’s number two carmaker seeking to cut costs to combat the global economic crisis.
Amid slumping car sales triggered by the worldwide downturn, Honda are no longer willing to bankroll the Formula One team and their estimated annual budget of US$500mil.
Honda Motor Co Chief Executive Takeo Fukui told a news conference a return to the sport could take time, and that there were no plans to continue as an engine supplier.
“This difficult decision was taken recently and was made in light of the quickly deteriorating operating environment facing the global auto industry,” Fukui told reporters.
“Honda must protect their core business activities and secure the long term as widespread uncertainties in the economics around the globe continue to mount.
“We will enter into consultation with associates of Honda Racing F1 and their engine supplier Honda Racing Development regarding the future of the two companies. This will include offering the team for sale.”
Fukui, who told Reuters this year that he would “spend a trillion yen” if he could to make Honda a Formula One winner, said there would be no speedy return to the sport.
“At this stage we have no plans to return to F1. We have no plans to supply engines to other teams,” he said.
“We do not want to be half in and half out of the sport.”
Honda would in any case have little time to find a buyer with the 2009 season starting in Australia on March 29.
Honda, like all of their rivals suffering from a sharp fall in global car sales, saw their sales in the United States, their biggest market, slump 32% last month