Despite negotiations with Richard Branson's Virgin Group believed to be progressing apace, Honda has stated that it has still not seen 'any serious buyer' for its Formula 1 team – as the company's pro-motorsport CEO announced that he is to step down.
It is widely understood that the Japanese manufacturer – which put its Northants-based F1 operation on the market back at the beginning of December, as a result of falling car sales precipitated by the global credit crunch and poor on-track return for its considerable investment following an inability to raise sufficient sponsorship – has three options on the table.
Until Virgin re-entered the bidding process at the eleventh hour [see separate story – click here
], Honda F1 CEO Nick Fry and team principal Ross Brawn had reportedly been close to finalising a joint management buy-out of the beleaguered outfit. Should neither of those possibilities materialise, the car maker will likely be left with no alternative but to close the doors at Brackley and leave the 750-strong workforce seeking alternative employment.
The dual revelation that Honda CEO Takeo Fukui is to step down from his position, and that there is still no real light at the end of the tunnel, is barely encouraging for those employees.
“There are various offers for the team,” Fukui is quoted as having said by international news agency Reuters
, “but we have not seen any serious buyer yet. We find the sale process difficult.”
The sport's commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone stated over the weekend that he had pledged to help out with a £100 million investment into Fry and Brawn's management buy-out, but that his offer had been refused because 'they wanted to do things on their own' [see separate story – click here