Honda bought out by BrawnGP

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    Honda bought out by BrawnGP

    Post by Ross on 7th March 2009, 04:31

    Honda bought out by BrawnGP

    The former Honda Racing Formula 1 team has been saved after the Japanese carmaker confirmed on Friday that it has approved a management buyout led by Ross Brawn.

    Honda will hand over the outfit to Brawn with immediate effect and it will henceforth be known as ‘Brawn GP’.

    The Brackley-based squad will race with Mercedes engines and has confirmed that Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello will stay on as its two drivers.

    Both Button and Barrichello faced the prospect of losing their place on the F1 grid had Honda been unable to find a buyer for its team, after the manufacturer stunned the sport last December by announcing its immediate withdrawal due to slumping road car sales.

    Brawn thanked Honda for its determination to ensure the team's survival and praised the dedication of the workforce.

    “The past few months have been extremely challenging for the team but today's announcement is the very pleasing conclusion to the strenuous efforts that have been made to secure its future,” he said.

    “Firstly, it is a great shame that having worked with Honda Motor Company for so long we can no longer continue together.

    “I would like to thank Honda for the fantastic cooperation and support we have received throughout this process – particularly those members of the senior management who were closely involved with concluding our agreement – and for the faith they have demonstrated in myself and our team.

    “I would also like to take this opportunity to pay due credit to our staff at Brackley.

    “The levels of motivation and commitment that I have witnessed at the factory deserve the highest praise.”

    It remains unclear how the deal has been structured or how the team will be financed going forward, with no confirmation yet of whether the 700-strong workforce will be scaled back as had been anticipated.

    The Daily Telegraph reported last week that the management buyout will be underwritten by Honda through a large financial commitment, estimated at £70m, to keep the team afloat for 2009, with the remainder of its budget coming from commercial-rights income and whatever sponsorship it can procure.

    The newspaper suggested that Button will see his salary slashed by 50% from about £10m to £5m, while senior management are also expected to take substantial pay cuts.

    Until recently 25-year-old GP2 racer Bruno Senna, the nephew of the late Ayrton, was thought likely to secure the second seat on the basis of personal sponsorship backing and his long-term potential.

    But Brawn instead opted for Barrichello’s wealth of experience and a stable driver line-up, two factors which he said would be particularly important as the team scrambles to get ready for the new season.

    “I am delighted that Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello will form our race driver line-up for the 2009 season,” said Brawn.

    “The vast experience and knowledge that both drivers bring to our team will prove invaluable as we aim to get up to speed in the shortest possible time to be ready for the first race of the season in Melbourne on 29 March.

    “In what will be their fourth season together, their experience with our team in Brackley, our systems and our engineers, will prove a real asset.”

    Brawn acknowledged that the team would not have survived without support from F1’s powers-that-be over the past few months.

    “It would be impossible to mention all of the people without whom today's announcement may not have been possible,” he said.

    “However, I would like to express particular appreciation for the support we have received from Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, the FIA, Formula One Management, FOTA, BERR (the UK's Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform), Bridgestone, our other team partners and our many fans the world over.

    “The journey ahead will be challenging but exciting and we know we can count on their continued enthusiasm for our team and its ambitions.”

    Hiroshi Oshima, managing officer of the Honda Motor Company responsible for corporate communications and motor sports, said: “Since announcing our withdrawal from Formula 1 racing on December 5 of last year, we have conducted various studies and discussions so that the team can continue its activities as a new team.

    “We are very pleased that we could sell the team to Ross Brawn, with whom we have been partaking in the challenges of F1 competition, and are grateful for his decision.

    “We offer our sincerest wishes for the new team which will be led by Ross.”

    After missing most of winter testing, the team now faces a race against time to get ready for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

    It is expected to shake down its 2009 car in Britain before heading to Spain for next week’s test at Barcelona and the following week’s session at Jerez.

    Its rescue means that after an uncertain winter amid the deepening worldwide recession, Formula 1 retains its full complement of 10 teams heading into the new season.

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