Speaking at the Autosport International Show this afternoon, Dave Richards has withdrawn his interest in taking over the beleaguered Honda Formula One team. In December it was thought that Richards could have reignited his Prodrive operation, having spoken with financial backers in the Middle East. However, citing a current unsettled environment in the sport, the former BAR boss has decided to put his plans on hold.
Honda are said to still have a dozen interested parties though, so all is not yet lost yet for the 700 odd employees in Oxfordshire and around the world. However, Richards doesn’t want the burden right now, despite welcoming the recent agreement to significantly cut costs in running a Formula One team. Although a step in the right direction, the one-time Benetton Formula One team chief feels it isn’t enough to ensure he can hit the ground running.
The cost-cutting process that has been put in place has not yet seen its full benefit, and I don’t think it will be until 2010 that you will see those issues roll out properly. The teams have still got a burden of overhead that is unsustainable. So consequently, with the window of time for entry, I just question whether it is right at the moment. Dave Richards.
If Formula One does not reconnect itself with its fan base and with the man in the street, and bring itself down to earth, I fear for its future. I know some people at the top end of the sport are addressing that and are well aware of that…It is a bitter medicine that is required at the moment but it has to be done. Dave Richards.
Honda Chief Executive Nick Fry was keen to point out that the team may still find a buyer, stating that about 30 parties showed initial interest, to which he and the other powers within the company have whittled down to a dozen or so.
It’s looking very positive at the moment. We had, as you might expect, a huge amount of interest at the start, probably well in excess of 30 groups came to us. We have now narrowed that down to something in the region of a dozen, and we’re currently talking to Honda about what is the best bet for the future. Nick Fry.
We do yet know who the interested parties are, although once-rumoured Carlos Slim – a wealthy Mexican businessman – ruled himself out stating his involvement was mere speculation. If an agreement cannot be reached with a potential purchaser by the end of January, Honda have said they will pull plug, thus limiting the 2009 grid to just nine teams.
It once looked reasonably okay for Honda, and I for one was pleased to see Dave Richards looking at making a comeback to the sport. However, to hear that someone with Richards’s experience in running motor sport teams has decided to put himself out of the running, it doesn’t paint a rosy picture for the Brackley squad’s future. It may well be very good having the bank balance to finance a Formula One venture, but without the right skills a team can very quickly disappear off the back of the grid.