It became clear this Sunday that my Christmas wish is still yet to come true. Carlos Slim has now categorically stated that he is not and will not be buying Honda F1 Racing. As Ross Brawn stated in his interview with the British newspaper the Daily Telegraph, the news story began with a rumour and snowballed into a story.
So that leaves me running out of fingernails as January approaches, and wondering if anyone in the Bleacher community would like to go halves with me? When Honda first announced it was off, it was common knowledge that the team could be sold for just £1.
I would be willing to go into partnership with someone keen to develop the team, it’ll only cost you 50p! Anyone?
On a more serious note where does this leave Honda? And more importantly its thousands of team members (most of which will not be able to simply take a year out). Well, Brawn continued to state in his interview that there were still very promising talks being held with "serious" investors and that the team was funded until Melbourne.
This is encouraging, but of course we all remember Super Aguri, don’t we? It is not unusual for a team to start a season and then quit due to lack of funds. I think Honda needs a buyer by Melbourne. With Slim out of the picture who is left that we know of?
First, there is Prodrive boss David Richards. This would make sense, as Richards was at the team during its BAR days. He was also around during Honda’s best season in 2004. My only problem with Richards is his relationship with my favourite driver Jenson Button. I’m hoping that Nick Fry would be able to negotiate that one!
Richards has flirted with the idea of an F1 return for quite a while, but has stated that he will only return when the "time is right." I’m not sure how right the time is at the moment in a motor sport industry desperately trying to keep its head above the water!
Richards recently flew out to the Middle East to hold talks, but as yet I’m not sure what the results were. I know that Honda had a sponsorship deal with Middle-Eastern company "Petrol Ofisi" in 2006, but whether that is relevant or not I don’t know. The withdrawal of the Prodrive-run Subaru team from WRC also proves favourable for a Richards F1 return.
As stated on the Auto sport website Richards needs to decide if the time is right, the problem is that with the current economic situation the challenge may be too big at this moment.
As far as I know that only leaves Honda with Achilleas Kallakis and Vijay Mallya. The Vijay Mallya rumour seemed to rise at the same time as the Slim news. There are many articles on the Internet about Mallya and Slim being in competition for the team. Unfortunately, with Slim’s statement I now doubt the reliability of the Mallya story.
I’m not sure why Mallya would want to buy Honda anyway, Force India was a pretty good team last year and regularly challenged the Honda team for grid position. Yes, the Honda facilities are fantastic and you get a little English chap called Brawn if you buy them, but I’m just not sure if it makes financial sense at the moment for Mallya and he’d probably do best to stay where he is.
What about Kallakis then? Well I can’t find much on the net about his links with Honda, other than his rumoured interest with them. All I can find out is that he’s pretty rich, and that makes a great investor for an F1 team! I think the best conclusion I can come to is that no one really knows what’s going on. So I guess this article is totally pointless!?
I think of the three buyers I have mentioned Richards is the most serious. He has previous, successful experience. He’s popular and a good businessman, though I’m not sure what would happen to Nick Fry’s job if Richards joined.
The problem with the Richards option is that the financial situation makes it very hard for anyone to consider buying something that will cost millions, with very little return in such a difficult economic world. Is the time right for a Richards return? Time will tell…
If it does all fall through my offer still stands…50p and we can go into business together! How hard can it be?
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