Confirmed: Honda withdraw from Formula One

buttonShock exit for Japanese giant as global economic crisis bites Formula One hard.

Honda has confirmed that it will withdraw from Formula One with immediate effect, putting the Brackley-based Honda Racing F1 Team up for sale.

Honda has been hit hard by falling car sales amidst the global economic downturn and the Japanese giant is no longer prepared to meet the increasing costs – which exceed $100 million – of running a Formula One team.

Honda president and CEO Takeo Fukai confirmed the pull-out in a press conference in Tokyo, saying that the economic climate had left Honda with little choice but to pull the plug.

“Honda must protect its core business activities and secure the long term as widespread uncertainties in the economies around the globe continue to mount,” he said. “A recovery is expected to take some time.

“Under these circumstances, Honda has taken swift and flexible measures to counter this sudden and expansive weakening of the marketplace in all business areas. However, in recognition of the need to optimise the allocation of management resources, including investment regarding the future, we have decided to withdraw from Formula One participation.

“We will enter into consultation with the associates of Honda Racing F1 Team and its engine supplier Honda Racing Development regarding the future of the two companies. This will include offering the team for sale.

“This difficult decision has been made in light of the quickly deteriorating operating environment facing the global auto industry, brought on by the sub-prime problem in the United States, the deepening credit crisis and the sudden contraction of the world economies.”

Honda returned to the F1 grid in 2006 having entered into partnership with BAR in 2005, and then taken full control of the team at the end of the year.

The Japanese manufacture finished fourth in the constructors’ championship, taking its first win in Hungary with Jenson Button, but then suffered a disastrous 2007 with only fourteen points to its name.

Fukai admitted the decision to pull out of Formula One was difficult especially given that the company had put so much effort into restoring the team and acquiring the services of esteemed technical director Ross Brawn.

“In its third era of Formula One activities, Honda has been participating in Formula One races from the 2000 season, initially with BAR, by adopting a new format of jointly developing racing machines,” he said. “Subsequently, in a move to meet the changing environment surrounding Formula One, we switched to running a 100 per cent Honda-owned team commencing with the 2006 season.

“Surmounting many challenges, the Honda Team achieved a Grand Prix victory in 2006, enabling Honda to receive overwhelming support from Honda fans around the world that were looking forward to greater success. It, therefore, has been an extremely difficult decision for us to come to this conclusion without having been able to fully meet the expectations of our fans.

“By making the best of what we have learned during these times of economic turmoil, coupled with the spirit of challenge gained through active participation in racing, we intend to continue with our commitment in meeting new challenges.

“Finally, we would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank our fans and all those who have supported Honda’s Formula One efforts, including everyone in the world of Formula One.”