In a move that's shocked the motor sports community, Honda has announced its withdrawal from Formula One with immediate effect. The move, that puts the future of the Brackley-based team in serious jeopardy, placing a question mark over the futures of the 600 employees has been made as Honda tightens its belt in the face of tough trading conditions in the automotive industry.
After briefing employees at Brackley, Honda's President and CEO, Takeo Fukui, made put out a statement confirming the news. He said, 'We 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.'
He added, '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. 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.'
The team, which endured patchy performance in F1 since its return as a constructor in 2006 - and before that, as a partner with British American Racing - scored a single victory, at Hungary, with Jenson Button, in 2006.
The question on everyone's lips now is, who is next? And what is the future for F1 as a manufacturer-focused sport?