JANUARY 5, 2009
Michael Schumacher and Honda
One intriguing rumour to surface over the Christmas period is the suggestion that Honda Racing F1's Ross Brawn may have been talking seriously to Michael Schumacher about working together to save the Brackley team. Schumacher has plenty of private money but it is unrealistic to believe that anyone will spend their own cash to pay the running costs of an F1 team. However, the Schumacher name does have a great deal of clout in the commercial world and it is possible, although rather unlikely in the current financial climate, that his involvement in a team could bring in the kind of money needed to run Honda for the next couple of years. This would give the team the opportunity to show an improvement in performance and allow the global economy to rebound and would perhaps end up being a sound investment for him.
The big question therefore is whether sponsors will join the party. The Honda team is an impressive operation and it should be getting better in 2009. The package being developed will have to be slightly modified because Honda will not be supplying engines and so commercial arrangements will be necessary with another manufacturer. The obvious choice is Ferrari, but we believe that there are other options available, largely because of capacity that will become available as a result the F1 testing ban that will begin in March.
Our spies at Brackley tell us that there has been a lot of interest in the team with perhaps as many as 25 different enquiries. Probably five or six of these are considered to be serious. We do not believe that any of them are automobile manufacturers as the world's car markets are in such a mess that no company can even consider such a step, despite the fact that a great asset that is available at a fraction of its actual cost.
The details of who is involved in these five or six bids is not clear but we hear that some of them are big organisations which see F1 as a good investment to support their business development. A great deal of effort is thus going on at the moment to finalise a deal by the end of January, when engine contracts will need to be organised in order for the team to be ready to run in Australia.