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DATE News (chronologically)
12/06/08
f1
Latest F1 news in brief
  • Senna to seek 'other options' for 2009
  • Honda to stay in IRL, motorbikes
  • Other carmakers committed to F1
  • Button could test Toro Rosso next week
  • David Richards eyes axed Honda F1 team

Senna to seek 'other options' for 2009
(GMM)  Bruno Senna may now turn to the Toro Rosso team to fulfill his desire to join the formula one ranks in 2009.

With Friday's shock news that Honda is pulling out of the sport with immediate effect, so disappeared the 25-year-old Brazilian's best hope of making his grand prix debut next year.

Senna's chances at Toro Rosso have also throttled back in recent days, after his late uncle Ayrton's close friend and former McLaren teammate Gerhard Berger withdrew his 50 per cent stake.

"We'll have to look around and see what other options are open to us," Senna told motorsports-magazine.com in the wake of the Honda announcement.

"These things happen.  It's never been easy to get into formula one -- you just have to keep plugging away and see what turns up."

One option for Senna is to hope the Brackley based Honda team finds a buyer before the Australian grand prix.

"I'm not burning any bridges there, but I can't wait forever.  On the other hand, the financial situation is tough everywhere at the moment and it is difficult to see where things are heading.

"So in the circumstances, you have to be very flexible," said Senna.

Honda to stay in IRL, motorbikes
(GMM)  Honda on Friday announced its immediate withdrawal from formula one, but the Japanese marque's commitment to the US IndyCar Series and premier motorcycling remains intact.

Honda is also closely involved with America's premier open wheel category, but the California-based Honda Performance Development (HPD) told us the manufacturer's US-based activities "are expected to continue in 2009 ... and beyond".

IndyCar team boss Mark Johnson, meanwhile, explained that Honda's racing model in the US series is fundamentally different to F1.

"HPD is charged with making money; it is a revenue-generating company," he is quoted as saying by the Indianapolis Star.

Honda's motorcycling programs, including in superbikes and MotoGP, also seem unaffected by the F1 decision.

Honda Racing's Neil Tuxworth told BBC Radio Lincolnshire: "Car and motorcycle racing are run by different divisions so this will have no effect on the motorcycling side."

Honda president Takeo Fukui, meanwhile, said on Friday the 2009 Japanese grand prix, to be held at the Honda-owned Suzuka, will take place as scheduled.

The manufacturer is also involved in other series, including through its Acura badge in Le Mans racing.

Fukui said: "Regarding other categories, we start thinking now as to what we should do."

Other carmakers committed to F1
(GMM)  F1's other manufacturer-backed teams have rushed to insist their commitment to the sport is not diminished by Honda's shock decision to quit amid the worsening slump in global car sales.

Mercedes-Benz's Norbert Haug said the German marque's involvement with the McLaren effort is financially sound and subsidized by team sponsors, but said cost-cutting is important.

"Over the next two years we must achieve cuts of at least 50 percent," he said.

Media reports on Friday said the next most likely manufacturer to withdraw from formula one is Toyota, but Japan's other entrant said in a statement it is committed for now to the sport and the teams' efforts to cut costs.

Toyota said it is "committed to succeeding in formula one and to reducing costs".

BMW board member Klaus Draeger said F1 "is an integral part of the company strategy".

"There is no better platform than formula one for demonstrating our brand values," he said of the German manufacturer, involved in F1 since 2000, and currently with its majority ownership of BMW-Sauber.

"The cost-benefit ratio is commensurately positive," he added, and a Renault spokesman said the French marque is similarly committed.

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, as head of the F1 teams' alliance FOTA, said the Italian marque and the other teams are working hard to reduce the costs in the "short and long term".

FIA president Max Mosley, however, is extremely pessimistic about the sustainability of F1 in its current guise, slamming FOTA's most recent efforts to cut costs as "fiddling about".

Nick Fry, Honda's F1 chief executive, agrees that the risk of more manufacturers following Honda out the door is real.

"The reason they are in F1 has gone for the moment -- selling cars," he said.

"The danger is that Honda might start a domino effect.  That is the nightmare scenario," he admitted to the British newspaper Express.

Button could test Toro Rosso next week
(GMM)  Contracted Honda driver Jenson Button could flee the beleaguered team before the start of the 2009 season.

Although publicly committed to the Brackley based outfit in the wake of Honda's Friday pullout, it is believed the 28-year-old driver is actually furious his loyalty to Honda has left him without a guaranteed race seat.

His management is understood to have demanded clarification as to the binding nature of his newly-penned contract, given the fact that the sole financier will no longer be involved.

Honda president Takeo Fukui on Friday apologized to Button, and admitted that talks will be instigated to "undo" the Briton's commitment to the F1 team.

Button may therefore be considering simply jumping ship rather than hanging around to see if the British based team can find a buyer before the Australian grand prix in late March.

The Guardian newspaper reports that, amid the Honda news, Toro Rosso made an approach to Button, as it seeks to finalize its driver lineup for next year.

Sources close to the Faenza based team, run by Franz Tost who in 2000 worked with Button at BMW-powered Williams, said Button could be invited to test a Toro Rosso at Jerez next week.

David Richards eyes axed Honda F1 team
(GMM)  David Richards is believed to be perhaps the most serious of the prospective buyers of Honda's formula one team.

As alluded to by Honda figures as well as F1 powerbrokers Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley, there is already interest in the Brackley based team, which on Friday was put on the market by the struggling Japanese carmaker Honda.

To boost the chances of a sale, embarrassed Honda has offered to bear the team's outstanding debts, and offer for sale the excellent facilities of the Brackley based squad for a nominal fee as low as $1.

The successful buyer would have to convince Honda that it could safeguard the future of the team, even if many of the 700 employees would be retrenched as the annual budget is slashed from its current $300 million to as little as $70m.

The British newspaper The Daily Telegraph said the most serious buyer, believed to be the Prodrive chief David Richards, could be in a position to seal the deal by the end of this weekend.

56-year-old Richards is no stranger to the team, having been brought in to run its previous BAR incarnation in 2001.

Prodrive was slated to join the F1 grid in 2008, but Richards pulled out because his plans involved running a controversial McLaren-Mercedes customer package.

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