• Dec 5th 2008 at 11:30AM
  • 32
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 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.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'm a bit perplexed at what exactly it is that Max is trying to do? They want to cut costs, yet at the same time they keep switching regulations.

      Secondly, they've restricted engine development a lot more quickly and harshly than aero development. Which one has more road-relevance?

      Also, this whole green movement thing. The KERS thing is somewhat useful, but why not focus on the engine? Progressively limiting the amount of fuel (and restricting refueling) for F1 cars would force engineers to come up with more innovative ways to increase the efficiency of the engines. This has road-relevance. Combine this with customer cars and engines that are affordable, and standard aero and chassis (which almost have no road-relevance), and woila, green and cost-savings!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Ecclestone really is to blame here. Him and Mosley want to cut team budgets, yet hold the races thousands of miles from their European headquarters because the hosts are crazy enough to pay FOM's ridiculous fees. I don't know the exact numbers, but it's not like the cost of traveling with an entire F1 team is irrelevant. It would be a nice show of good faith if Bernie offered to provide some budget cuts of his own to keep F1 going, and not just asking the teams to sacrifice. Reducing his take in this is not going to put this billionaire in the poor house.
      • 6 Years Ago
      This is some very sad news. Thanks a lot Bernie for driving F1 out of town here in the states, one of Honda's biggest markets.
      • 6 Years Ago
      What about Indy? Pull out of that!
        • 6 Years Ago
        But their engines are successful there!
        • 6 Years Ago
        The IRL (or ICS) is CHEAP & Honda has no direct competition. It is also budgeted under Honda NA who also bank rolls the Acura ALMS program.

        The ALMS loves Honda at this time... Audi just mad the R15 a LeMan24 only deal... no ALMS or ELMS

      • 6 Years Ago
      If only Mazda had the resources to get into F1.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Ford has had a controlling interest, of 34%, in Mazda since early 1990s when Mazda basically failed but was rescued by Ford. Ford Execs stepped in and directly managed the recovery of Mazda to where it is today. Ford is inow n the process of selling 50% of that stake and formally handing over management control of the sound manufacturer back to Japanese Execs.

        Meantime in OW Mazda remains a Sponsor of the Mazda Atlantics series. Powered by a Mazda engine slightly tweaked by Cossie.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Mazda...more racing cred....than honda? i was waiting for the pysche on that one. But honestly, honda as more high performance history on two and four wheels than mazda will probably ever have. From their old formula 1 days, to their DOMINANCE in CART in the 90's, to their many many SUPER AMA champ wins, and even MotoX. I dont wanna bash on the miata, but no amount of 1 spec miata series, or SCCA runs can even come come to that. I mean, jesus...do we even wanna bring up the old dominance of the Real Time Type Rs of SCCA past?
        • 6 Years Ago
        Please help me here, because i can't really think of any big racing league where Mazda currently participates...
        • 6 Years Ago
        Look at SCCA racing. There are so many Miata's in there, it's crazy. There are spec Miata leagues, as well as Miata's that race in general racing otherwise. They do campaign an LMP2 car in ALMS, but that's not too mentionable, to be honest.

        The cars Mazda makes don't lend themselves too well to the big leagues, like a GT2 ALMS car, but that doesn't mean you don't race. I'd love to see a GT3 or even GT4 class in ALMS with more cars- Or a dedicated, separate race since the track is pretty crowded as it is. I'd love to see Solstices, Miata's, Speed3's, RX-8's, Cobalt SS's, and whatever else you want- that'd be fun to watch, IMO. Probably not ALMS caliber, but it'd still be fun.

        Also, the ALMS organizers should allow Rotaries in and bring back the Mazda 787B. That would kick ass.

        So they aren't in a major series right now, but you don't need to race in a major form of motorsport to get racing cred, though- I mean, what exactly has Honda's F1 team done for them? It's been a great money pit lately, but not much else, unless you count public humiliation.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Why? I love Mazda (note that my pic is of my Mazdaspeed's tach), but they've built up a lot more racing cred than Honda has, while spending probably a fraction of what Honda spent in one season of F1.

        Mazda is proof that you don't need to spend billions to make a reputation for yourself in racing. And I do watch F1, through the bad times and the good (I was at the USGP in '05- I still shudder at the memory). I wonder if anyone will step in to fill the void, or if the 3rd car from the top 2 teams rule applies.
          • 6 Years Ago
          Mazda has more racing cred? Where? Not in F1, Indy, SPEED World Challenge, ALMS, or Super GT. So... where?

          You must be thinking it's because that TV commercial says "More Mazdas are road raced than any other manufacturer" blah blah blah. If a commercial is "cred," you win.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Why would they want to do that? F1 is just a big farce. I've been watching F1 since the late 80s. I must admit 2008 was exciting but other than the fight for the championship nothing else was exciting about the cars. The FIA have pretty much restricted all innovations in F1. There won't be a single F1 race in North America next season.

        Mazda is doing great in North American racing leagues. Why change to something that soon enough no one in North America would know about?

        Good on Honduh for pulling out now. Smart business people don't wait until the company is near bankruptcy to react. No names needed.

        You can bet there will be some discussions starting at Toyota HQ. No doubt so will Renault.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I guess I'm the only guy who wants all the computers out of these cars... No paddle shifters, cpu controlled clutches, no tc, or sc, or abs etc.... Go old school, nascar does it, F1 should as well.
      • 6 Years Ago
      With the new Cosworth contract, i feel that more teams are likely to make an exit.

      Consider this, what would McLaren need with Mercedes in 2010? Goodbye MB is what i think will happen very soon.
        • 6 Years Ago
        No problem... there is a lot of turmoil in racing right now!!! A busy news day to say the least, mate.

        Audi dropping ALMS & ELMS. Honda out of F1. Petty Enterprises possibly selling the #43 to Gillett Racing... I know I'm forgetting a few more.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Cosworth has NO CONTRACT... this is a concept of Max Mosley at this stage.
        • 6 Years Ago
        To AZZO45b:

        It appears you are correct. I have reread and it states that there are talks of 1. using a Cosworth engine, letting the teams build own motor to Cosworth specs or continuing with the frozen v8s. Thanx for clarification as i was up in arms over initially reading it went through.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Honda never wins F1 and they not better than that everyone else that they never will, just like Toyota in NASCAR!
        • 6 Years Ago
        You are forgetting Honda Turbo V6s have already powered McLaren to F1 championships in the past.
        • 6 Years Ago
        WTF? Yeah you must be right... that Kyle Busch guy lead 3/4 of the season driving what?

        Michael Waltrip Racing & Red Bull Racing went from multiple DNQ's to Pole Winners & Top 35s in what??

        The Nationwide & the Truck series had that same "done nothin' " brand win NUMEROUS times.

        Toyota not winning in NASCAR... in an alternative universe???
      • 6 Years Ago
      Utterly terrible news. F1 has now become swiss cheese.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Sorry, my comment was for JD, obviously.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Why would a company like Honda which builds some of the best engines in the world want to be a part of a farce which restricts engine technology for five years and does even more to kill technical innovation with idiotic regulations? Especially in an economic climate which is bleak at that? This is a courageous decision for Honda at a time when they would do better to spend their F 1 budget on more efficient road cars and sell them at an affordable price-point in their various markets instead of wasting it on the new FOrmula 1 joke.

      If there were any sense in the racing world, Ecclestone and Mosley would have been consigned to the dustbin. As this is not going to happen, Formula racing will take what should be their place in the trashcan.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Honda out of F1 is OK by me. I do not think F1 translates well to their auto line anyway. I would buy their cars because I want trouble free and efficient motoring. Ferrari is a different story. Anyway, Honda has far more competition cred for their motorcycles. In fact, they probably have the most two wheeled racing cred in the world.
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