DECEMBER 22, 2008

Mexican interest in Honda Racing F1?

There are reports that Carlos Slim, the 68-year-old Mexican telecommunications billionaire, may be interested in buying the Honda Racing F1 team, as a means of growing his business in Latin America. Slim is the owner of Telmex and has a record of supporting Mexican racers. Although his $60bn fortune is based in Mexico, Slim's biggest business is in Brazil where he owns Embratel, which is growing twice as fast as his Mexican business. He will understand the value of F1 sponsorships as he is a member of the board of Philip Morris International, which owns Ferrari sponsor Marlboro. He is also a major supporter of Bruno Senna, who had been tipped as a possible Honda driver before the Japanese announced that the team was being axed.

Slim has made a name as a man who buys cheap companies, builds them up and sells them. But there has to be a decent business model for him to be interested. Honda F1 might fit the bill, but he knows that it will require hefty investment in the next few years before it begins to create value. However if this can be used to improve his sales in Brazil there is logic in the move.

It is perhaps worth mentioning that in recent months former GP2 owner Adrian Campos (who sold out his team to Alejandro Agag not long ago) embarked on running a Mexican A1 GP team amid rumours that he will also be overseeing a promotional scheme for Mexican drivers, funded by Slim. Campos has always had F1 ambitions as a team owner, hoping that one day he could be the man running the first serious Spanish F1 team.