Tim

Formula 1 – Week ending Saturday 28th of February, 2009 – Brawn to Race?

In Formula 1 on 28 February, 2009 at 11:37 pm

Well, we’ve had quite a week…

News about a new team for 2010, USF1, a US-based team, whose primary sponsor appears to be US TV channel SpeedTV… Planning on “finding the American Lewis Hamilton” (which means he’ll be ready for F1 in about 15 years…) and expressing interest in the likes of AJ Allmendinger, Danica Patrick and Marco Andretti… (all of whom have said that they are flattered, but happy where they are at the moment, thank you!) and actually looking like they mean business.

The Formula One Team Formerly Known as Honda F1 Racing (or Honda GP, to give it its official company name) have apparently filed for change of ownership/name papers and are getting ready to shakedown their 2009 car next week. This last week it became apparent that there were three serious contenders for buying the team: Richard Branson, Tony Texeira (who runs A1GP) and a Management Buy Out (or “MBO”) led by Ross Brawn, Nick Fry and the remaining management (possibly even involving the drivers?). Branson swiftly announced that F1 wasn’t yet(!) environmentally-friendly enough for Virgin to get involved with.

Realistically, despite all the comments about “conflicts of interest” an MBO actually makes the most sense. Honda, the parent company, want to sell the team to someone that will look after it, and keep it going. They do not want to lose face in Japan. The current management knows the team inside-out, and would not have to perform lengthy and costly Due Diligence procedures. They would effectively become yet another “Independent” team, joining Williams and Red Bull (Force India has really become more of a McLaren customer car, as they have more or less given technical control to McLaren, getting rid of both Mike Gascoyne and Colin Kolles). Frankly, given that Honda engine (along with the Renault one) was severely underpowered in relation to the Ferrari and McLaren engines, Honda may be doing the team a favour by shutting down the engine department.

Honda are still paying all the costs until the Australian Grand Prix. This means that the car has been in development, building and testing, without any break in flow. Engines have to be procured, but it would appear that a deal with Mercedes must have gone ahead, as the car is due to hit the track (Silverstone is the most realistic rumour so far) next week.

Don’t forget either that this car has actually been in development longer than anyone else’s… Ross Brawn arrived too late to influence the 2008 car. He did a little tidying up here and there, but decided that he was better-off focusing on re-organising the structure of the team and designing the 2009 car as soon as the basic regulations had been agreed. We haven’t yet seen a Ross Brawn Honda (and it won’t be a Honda in 2009, either will it?). they need to gain sponsors (in the middle of global recession), but that appears to have been quite positive too… Ironically one sector that is flourishing well in these times is the tobacco industry… … but even though Philip Morris gets away with sponsoring the Ferrari team (via things like paying for the drivers) tobacco advertising is banned in F1.

It is a pity that we won’t see a Virgin F1 car on the grid in Melbourne, but whatever it is, don’t be surprised if it’s fast! Hopefully both Button and Barrichello will be kept on, and both will be up to scoring some points. Honda was also leading the way with KERS development, but that may have ceased with the closure on the engine unit. Either way, this year is going to be a classic. I’m hoping it goes out in HD too! Bring on “The Chain”. Dum. De-de-dum-de-de-de-de-de-dum.

[Addendum: It appears that people associated with the Ex-Honda team have filed applications for websites and company names in the name of “Brawn Racing” – whether this will be the final name remains to be seen!]

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