DECEMBER 8, 2008
Why so negative Mr President?
FIA President Max Mosley is reported to have said that he suspected that a manufacturer would leave Formula 1 - and that he was surprised that it turned out to be Honda. He has also said that he thinks it will be difficult for Honda to sell the team.
All this is rather negative and it is not going to help the situation.
Mosley is usually diplomatic enough to avoid falling into such pitfalls - he is clever enough to have escaped from a sex scandal that would have toppled most people in his position - and so one must conclude that these less than helpful remarks have some other purpose. To his credit Mosley does say that he is optimistic that the costs will be reduced.
Everyone else is saying the same thing, but is is clear that the teams want their own measures adopted rather than having the FIA impose its rule changes. This makes sense as the FIA is not supposed to be involved in dictating anything commercial.
Most of the manufacturers involved have now stated that they are not about to withdraw and it makes very little sense for anyone else to pull out. Red Bull might axe one team but that does not make sense at the moment as the drinks company has plenty of money, a very good reason to be in F1 and four cars for the cost of three. It should also be noted that the team that won Red Bull's first race last year was not the one expected to lead the way.
It is also not the right time to sell any F1 team. The businesses are all going to be valued at next to nothing in the immediate aftermath of the Honda debacle. No buyer is going to be found to pay a vast sum in the current economic climate. Honda will let the team go for nothing if it can avoid the cost and disgrace of lay-offs. Thus, now is absolutely not the time to be selling and sensible businessmen will recognise that the thing to do is to slash costs and hold on, rather than folding and walking away empty-handed. The one fear would be Williams, the sport's only team that exists simply to race, but the Grove team says it is OK for 2009.
So why the negative remarks at such a delicate moment?
Surely it would be better to be positive and to look at the fact that Honda is a brilliant bargain for a car manufacturer that is in less trouble than some of the others, particularly if the plan is for major cost-cutting in the future.