Rumors yesterday indicated that Honda would be dropping out of Formula 1 for the 2009 season if a buyer wasn't quickly found. Today, CEO Takeo Fukui has made Honda's exit official. As you would imagine, racing at the top rung of motorsports is expensive, and despite the acknowledgment of such from top F1 officials and the growing sentiment that it needs to get cheaper, that's not going to happen in 2009. With global automotive sales, and therefore profits, down by alarming percentages, Honda can no longer justify its F1 racing investments and believes that the money could be better spent elsewhere. It should be noted that Honda has only had a single Grand Prix victory way back in 2006, so its significant yearly multi-million dollar investment has never really paid off anyway. An official statement from Fukui, who thanks Honda's fans for their support, is pasted after the break.

[Source: Honda, Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty]


Statement:

Statement by Takeo Fukui, President and CEO, Honda Motor Co., Ltd.

December 5, 2008 – We, Honda Motor Co., Ltd., have come to the conclusion that we will withdraw from all Formula One activities, making 2008 the last season of participation.

This difficult decision has been made in light of the quickly deteriorating operating environment facing the global auto industry, brought on by the sub-prime problem in the United States, the deepening credit crisis and the sudden contraction of the world economies.

Honda must protect its core business activities and secure the long term as widespread uncertainties in the economies around the globe continue to mount. A recovery is expected to take some time.

Under these circumstances, Honda has taken swift and flexible measures to counter this sudden and expansive weakening of the marketplace in all business areas. However, in recognition of the need to optimize the allocation of management resources, including investment regarding the future, we have decided to withdraw from Formula One participation. We will enter into consultation with the associates of Honda Racing F1 Team and its engine supplier Honda Racing Development regarding the future of the two companies. This will include offering the team for sale.

In its third era of Formula One activities, Honda has been participating in Formula One races from the 2000 season, initially with BAR, by adopting a new format of jointly developing racing machines. Subsequently, in a move to meet the changing environment surrounding Formula One, we switched to running a 100% Honda-owned team commencing with the 2006 season.

Surmounting many challenges, the Honda Team achieved a Grand Prix victory in 2006, enabling Honda to receive overwhelming support from Honda fans around the world that were looking forward to greater success. It, therefore, has been an extremely difficult decision for us to come to this conclusion without having been able to fully meet the expectations of our fans.

By making the best of what we have learned during these times of economic turmoil, coupled with the spirit of challenge gained through active participation in racing, we intend to continue with our commitment in meeting new challenges.

Finally, we would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank our fans and all those who have supported Honda's Formula One efforts, including everyone in the world of Formula One.

Thank you very much.

Takeo Fukui
President and CEO
Honda Motor Co., Ltd.