x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Honda could have been winners

Honda could have won races in Formula One next year had they not decided to walk away from the sport, team boss Ross Brawn said.

Ross Brawn moved to Honda in 2007 from Ferrari after a year-long sabbatical.
Ross Brawn moved to Honda in 2007 from Ferrari after a year-long sabbatical.

LONDON // Honda could have won races in Formula One next year had they not decided to walk away from the sport, team boss Ross Brawn said. "We would have had a race-winning car and that's the tragedy," the former Ferrari technical director said. "Our information is that, relative to the other teams, we had a very strong car for next year and we would have continued developing it." Honda announced in Japan that the team, whose entry has already been submitted for 2009, was up for sale and that they would no longer stay in Formula One as a constructor or engine supplier.

Brawn, who has strong links to Ferrari from his highly successful time there with seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher, said replacing the Honda engine would not be a problem if a buyer for the team could be found. He said that he and Honda F1 chief executive Nick Fry had discussed the situation with other rival teams and been assured of their support. "I think any of the other car manufacturers would help us with an engine supply if needed," he said. "The engine supply is not the obstacle. We will find an engine for next year."

Force India recently terminated their Ferrari engine deal, leaving the Italian constructor with spare capacity despite already supplying Red Bull's Toro Rosso. Force India had wanted Ferrari to supply a complete drivetrain (engine and gearbox) however, and Brawn said his team would not need to buy in more than the engine given their extensive facilities. The new KERS (kinetic energy recovery system), which retrieves heat from the brakes and transforms it into short bursts of power, would not be a problem either since it was still in its infancy and there was no obligation to start the season with it.

Brawn, whose team finished a dismal ninth overall this year, said the budget and staff numbers going forward would depend on any buyer. "It could be a Toro Rosso type operation of about 150 people or 500-600," he said. "The latter is what we would like ideally but if it's a question of survival, then the former." Brawn said it was the first time in his Formula One career that he had been made redundant but he had come to Honda at the end of 2007 for the challenge and intended to rise to it.

"This is a unique opportunity to buy a team with some of the best facilities in Formula One, best workforce and a car that could be one of the best," he said. *Reuters