The 700-strong workforce at what was formerly the Honda Formula One team were told at last night that the majority of their jobs are safe, following a management buyout. Former Ferrari engineering supremo Ross Brawn has acquired the team, which will now be called Brawn GP.
While admitting that there will be some redundancies, Brawn said: "We had no decent bids from people who would have fulfilled our ambitions for the team, so the best thing was for me to buy it." No sum has yet been disclosed.
The announcement ends months of uncertainty for the team, after Honda made the abrupt decision to pull out of F1 on 5 December last year. Speculation in the intervening weeks aligned the team with Bernie Ecclestone, Richard Branson's Virgin company and sundry other bidders, but Brawn was always adamant that buying the team himself offered the best hope for the future.
Director Nick Fry yesterday paid tribute to the work done by the Formula One Teams Association (Fota). "I think it is correct to say that our team has and will benefit in the future from Fota in two ways," he said. "The first one is clearly the cost reductions will help us enormously in the challenges we will face in the next two or three years, but I think as important as the cost reduction is the level of support that we have received from all the teams."
Jenson Button's F1 career has thus been saved and Brawn has invited his staff to watch the Briton test the as-yet unnamed white, yellow and black Mercedes-engined car at Silverstone today prior to further tests in Barcelona and Jerez ahead of the Australian GP in Melbourne on the 29 March.
Button will be partnered by experienced Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, in preference to the latter's fellow countryman Bruno Senna.