Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Honda Not Quite The Steal You Think It Is

Why so negative Mr President?

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.

There are two problems with what's left of Honda's F1 team.

First, while there have been lots of promising noise in the press about Honda's prospects for 2009, the majority of those noises have been coming from the Jenson Button boosters club in the British press. The fact of the matter is that Honda has not been very successful of late.

Secondly, and relatedly, the 2009 program was based partially on developing in-house engines. With Honda bowing out, the new buyer will either have to take over the engine program, or make alternate arrangements; and there just may not be engines available. Neither option seems particularly conducive to short-term success. An engine is a huge part of a Formula 1 car -- the car is designed from the beginning to take a particular engine. One can't just unbolt one and then bolt a different brand in.

The takeover of Honda cannot be compared to the takeover of Jaguar by Red Bull. Red Bull's first year was flattered by the fact that they were working with the inertial from the previous year, and the "Ford" engine was really a rebadged Cosworth engine, and Cosworth was happy to continue to provide motors. Red Bull's inconsistant performance (or perhaps consistantly mediocre performance) is more telling of the new organization's potential.

If the team were to be taken over, they would be looking at a poor 2009 while they tried to get things lined up properly to attack 2010, probably with the "off the shelf" powertrain currently on offer from the FIA.