Jan 9, 2009

Sport - F1;Honda considering 12 offers for Formula 1 team

LONDON: Honda's Formula One executives are considering 12 offers for the team with its parent company in Japan, which pulled out of the sport amid
the global economic crisis.

The automaker ended its association with the sport in December to focus on its core business of making and selling cars rather than spending $291 million (euro212 million) a year to race them on Grand Prix tracks. Since then, Honda Racing chief executive Nick Fry has been locked in talks to save the team.

``It's looking very positive at the moment,'' Fry told autosport.com on Thursday. ``We had, as you might expect, a huge amount of interest at the start _ probably well in excess of 30 groups came to us.

``We have narrowed that down to something in the region of a dozen, and we're currently talking to Honda about what is the best bet for the future.''

The 2009 season opens with the Australian Grand Prix on March 29. Honda's absence would leave nine teams on the starting grid.

Fry is increasingly confident that the team will be in Melbourne, but is only considering investors which offer long-term stability.

``Many of the potential owners have been kind enough to talk about this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, to get something which does have the chance to do very well in the next couple of years,'' Fry said. ``In this economic environment it is difficult, there is no doubt about it, and we've got to be careful that we look not just at 2009, which frankly is the least of our worries.

``It really is making sure we have a long-term future for the staff. Neither Ross (Brawn, the team principal) nor I want to stand there and say that everything is fine if, in one or two years' time, we fall flat on our face again.''

Fry insisted that Honda remains an attractive proposition. ``This is not a situation like some of the smaller teams that have fallen by the wayside, which frankly had an entry on the grid but did not have much in the way of technology, or in the way of engineering substance,'' he said. ``The one thing that we have benefited from, to a level which is difficult to exaggerate, is the amount of money, effort and skill that Honda have put into this.''

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