Whilst insisting that he is 'optimistic' a solution will be found, Max Mosley has expressed his fear that Honda will find it 'difficult' to sell its Formula 1 team in the current global economic climate – and has revealed that he 'was imagining that one of the manufacturers might drop out', even if that manufacturer was not Honda.
Honda in Japan is believed to have granted a three-month deadline within which its Brackley-based F1 concern must be sold, or else see its doors closed – and some 800 employees left out of a job.
Though CEO Nick Fry has claimed that there are already as many as three interested parties [see separate story – click here
] – one of whom is rumoured to be David Richards, whose private Prodrive operation ran BAR-Honda from 2002 to 2004 and subsequently very nearly entered the top flight as a customer cause itself this year – Mosley contends that with the worldwide credit crunch and everyone feeling the pinch, the sport's outrageous expenditure would likely dissuade all but the most wealthy and determined contenders.
“I think it's going to be difficult [to find a buyer],” the FIA President told BBC Radio 5 Live
, “because it would only really pay somebody to take over that team and run it if we get the costs down to the point where it's viable without a huge car manufacturer pouring in huge sums of money – and that's not going to be easy.
“On the other hand it's not impossible, and I'm optimistic. I'm optimistic we will get the costs down, and if we can do that we've got a good chance.
“I was imagining that one of the manufacturers might drop out because the money that's been spent has been unsustainable for some time, but Honda – one of the best-managed companies in the whole motor industry – were not the people you would expect to stop.”
Mosley also re-iterated his genuine concerns that Honda may not be the last major player to pull the plug on its F1 project, with repeated suggestions Toyota could follow suit as it continues to reap little reward for its substantial investment, question marks over Renault, fears for independent outfit Williams' financial security and even talk of Red Bull calling it quits too [see separate story – click here
]. The 68-year-old added that he would not even be surprised to see another team disappear before the start of the 2009 campaign, in which case F1 would no longer be a viable proposition.
“Yes,” Mosley replied, when asked if a third team could echo Honda and Super Aguri in going under, “because they will not be able to raise enough money to go on spending at the present levels.
“It would be invidious of me to name the team that might be the one most likely to suddenly disappear. They all have different reasons why they might, but all of them are in a situation where they've either got a rich individual who's looking at whether he wants to go on spending that money, or they've got a big company who are looking to cut costs in every area.