Honda is withdrawing from Formula One unless a buyer can be found for its team in the next three months. The move is part of a desperate attempt by the Japanese carmaker to cut costs.
It is understood that the company informed the 677-strong Honda team last night, and other F1 teams were also told of the move yesterday. The team’s drivers include Jenson Button from the UK.
Honda’s decision to pull out of the sport has highlighted fears that other car manufacturers with teams are facing financial difficulties. There are concerns that the move by Honda will prompt rival Toyota to follow suit.
Honda chief executive Takeo Fukui says that the company has been forced to make “this difficult decision” by the deteriorating financial environment. He adds the company has to protect its core business activities and secure its future.
Fukui has been upfront about his ambitions to win the championship title, and had said he would be prepared to invest a “trillion yen” to secure it.
A number of F1 teams are already understood to be in talks about how to make savings and Max Mosley, the president of governing body the F™d™ratation Internationale de L’Automobile, has already called for caps on team budgets and the introduction of a standard engine. The latter has been opposed by Ferrari and Toyota.
There are hopes that a buyer could be found for the team and talks with its associates and buy-out firms are understood to have begun.