Breaking News: Reports on a Japanese newspaper’s website says that the Toyota Formula One team are pulling out of the sport with immediate effect.
The downbeat report by The Mancini Newspaper states that Japan is now without a Formula One Team, hanks to the recession and the millions of dollars to which it takes to run a team. The decision seems to have come from the board of directors, as opposed to John Howett the team boss.
An article in Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport released today said that there would be a new announcement on November 8, but if this new article is to be believed then that decision has already been taken.
However there is a glimmer of hope, the article states they may try and run 2010 as a satellite style operation, similar to the Hayate rnu Kawasaki in MotoGP, where the funds and development are limited but staff and technical help is still available.
If not, the place is likely to be awarded to the Sauber team. For Kobayashi, possibly the most promising newcomer to F1, he could try and join a new team but if unsuccessful the Japanese was worried he would have to abandon racing and go back to working in his father’s Sushi bar!
MORE NEWS WHEN IT COMES – STAY TUNED!
The four time F1 world champion Alain Prost has called for calm within the F1 paddock, telling te teams and bosses to think rather than panic in the world economic crisis.
“I prefer people who say ‘let’s think’ rather than ‘let’s stop’. Honda aside, I don’t think there is panic,” he said in Paris.
“In F1, everyone is in the same boat with having to reduce budgets, and in the last ten years I had never seen F1 with such an abundance of resources,” Prost continued.
Prost, who drove for top teams including Scuderia Ferrari and McLaren believes that F1′s golden age of overtaking and close racing has gone, and it is now a golden age of safety.
“There is less overtaking and more strategy. Everything happens on the pitwall and the drivers just go.”
“We had to save the brakes and the gearboxes, and monitor fuel consumption, but now it has all been organised by the starting grid,” Prost said.
“I experienced the golden age, but there were crashes, deaths. The drivers today are in a golden age of safety.”
David Richards completely dispelled rumours that he would buy the remains of the Honda F1 Team today by stating he hoped they found a buyer before the start of the season, but that it would not be him.
The motor racing veteran has decided against purchasing the team in the current economic climate, especially with dark clouds hanging over the British supercar manufacturer Aston Martin which he also owns.
It will be sad not to see Richards back in the pitlane, whose most recent F1 extroverts were with the BAR Honda team, and subsequently with the Prodrive F1 Team which never quite took off.
“I really hope there is a solution there because there are a lot of great people at that team.” Richards told Autosport in an exclusive interview.
“It is a team that should be racing and I am still a great supporter of Jenson Button. I think he has never had his fair opportunity to shine and show his true talents.
“But being realistic, in the current world, it’s going to be a very difficult uphill battle.”
Meanwhile, despite no buyer being found Norbert Haug of Mercedes Benz claims that their engine offer is still on the table and will be for the foreseeable future.
“The timing is anything else but fantastic, but we can still do it. There is not a deadline like tomorrow or next week, but time is running.” Haug said.
For Richards though, today was cause for a small celebration.
His Aston Martin company have unveiled ambitious plans to design and build a Le Mans Prototype car capable of winning the entire Le Mans 24h Endurance Race.
Richards has entered various Aston Martin DBR9′s in recent years into the GT1 category and they have achieved much success. Aston Martin have sold cars onto customers who get frequent race wins in various GT1 series’ around the world. At Autosport International show, Prodrive, Richards’ motorsport company took the covers of an Aston Martin Vantage GT4 to conincide with their Vantage GT2 car allowing them to race in lots of categories and series’.
However, this is the first indicaiton that they are going all out to win the 24h title.
Audi and Peugeot have been at the top of the standings for many years, especially now with their diesel powered cars. But in 2003 Bentley won the 24h race, and with new regulations to make diesel and petrol powered cars more alike in the race for competition, Aston’s V12 project seems viable.
“How on earth did we get here? How could Aston Martin be so audacious as to go to Le Mans and challenge the benchmark teams with their turbo-diesel engines and the record of experience that they have had over the last years?” said Richards.
“2009 is a hugely significant year for Aston Martin at Le Mans and the challenge of reclaiming victory in this famous race for Aston Martin and Great Britain was simply too great to ignore. It’s a leap of faith and a step into the unknown for us, it really is a David and Goliath exercise, but it is that British fighting spirit that we are going to give it a try and see what we can do.
“However, we do not underestimate the task. While we have won the GT1 class for the last two years, competing against the proven speed and endurance of the diesel-powered cars, with all their years of winning the prototype class, will be a massive undertaking. But one thing is for certain that unless you give it a go, you are not going to achieve anything.”
The car will be painted in Gulf racing colours, a classic racer scheme. There are likely to be 3 cars entered, but only 5 drivers have been confirmed; Stefan Muecke, Jan Charoz, Thomas Enge, Harold Primat and Darren Turner. With Honda not finding a buyer, could Jenson Button come into the team? Or maybe even Anthony Davidson?
Bernie Ecclestone has spoken of a major plan he may implement in the wake of teams such as Honda pulling out of F1.
The F1 ruler Ecclestone is contractually bound to have a field of at least 18 cars, a position we now find ourselves in. With the world financial crisis setting in, more independent teams such as Williams in danger of going out of business; it could leave the entireity of F1 in jepoardy.
Thus, Ecclestone wants the big teams who are financially stable, such as Scuderia Ferrari, McLaren and BMW Sauber to field 3 cars to ‘make up the numbers’.
“If the manufacturers supply engines to other people, they can run three cars themselves.” Ecclestone told DPA
“It is better to have 20 cars on the grid, whether they are in the hands of manufacturers or in private hands, that doesn’t make any difference,” he added.
Bernie Ecclestone reckons that Honda won’t be a huge loss to Formula One as a sport, citing their serious spending as ‘wasteful’.
The 78 year old veteran of Formula One thinks they set a bad example to F1 teams by spending an absolute fortune and ending up pretty much nowhere, 9th in the constructors championship in 2008.
They were much more successful as an engine manufacturer, and through Mugen their tuning company partner.
“Honda will be no great loss,” he said at the London boutique Moussaieff, where he was promoting an event involving his daughter Tamara.
“Just look at where they finished in the championship – ninth. They wasted millions and were a bad example to other teams.”
“In Formula One, teams come and go. It’s not the end of the world. Only Ferrari has been there since the start.”
“Now they’ve gone, we’ve got a chance to bring in some sense to the teams about how much they should spend.”
Meanwhile he told the Telegraph newspaper that a buyer for the team should be unveiled within the week.
He said: “I’m keen for the team to be kept in place. We have whittled it down to three serious potential buyers.”
Ross Brawn and Alex Wurz have both claimed they are unconcerned about their futures in the wake of the Honda F1 Teams demise.
While Nick Fry is furiously searching for a buyer, who we believe will be David Richards using an Arabian backer, Ross BRawn is much more chilled out about the whole matter. He is very disappointed to have lost the team, a team he only joined 12 months ago after very successful times in F1 with Ferrari and Benetton, and also in sportscar racing, but if he doesn’t get another job he is going to go and enjoy himself.
Ross told Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport: “If the team has to close, I’ll just go fishing for a year, which is my hobby anyway.”
MEanwhile test driver Alex Wurz, himself now 37 and having had a fairly successful racing career which ended with Williams last season, taking home a podium in the process admits he isn’t going to furiously search for a job.
” I will look for another seat for sure, probably test not race, but I will probably not seek it with full power.” Wurz told APA
Honda Racing Europe have been quick to come out and claim that Honda will not be quitting MotoGP as part of the overall scaling back operation by the Japanese manufacturer.
The scaling back of operations has led to the Formula One team being shut down, but Honda will continue to fund their MotoGP team in the wake of today’s shock revelations.
The Repsol Honda team admit that they, along with the other MotoGP teams need to bring costs under control in the sport to keep it running successfully.
“The decision to pull out of F1 does not affect the other forms of motorsport Honda are involved in,” Paul Ormond, Honda Racing Europe’s spokeman told Autosport.
“We will be looking at reducing our costs, as we’re sure other teams will be doing too, in MotoGP and other motorcycle activities.”