Potential buyers eye up Honda F1 team

Potential buyers have expressed interest in the Honda Formula One team, its chief executive said, after the car giant announced it would pull out of the sport without a new owner.

Three possible bidders have come forward in the last 12 hours, Honda chief executive Nick Fry told Radio Five Live, as he called the team a "desirable asset".

Even if a buyer is found, job losses among the 600 workers at the team's headquarters in Brackley, Northamptonshire have not been ruled out, a Honda spokesman said.

British driver Jenson Button will also be out of a job after nine years in F1 unless there is a late reprieve.

Mr Fry said: "I think we are going to be a desirable asset for somebody.

"We are very hopeful, as are most of the commentators in Formula One, that this team is going to take a big step upwards, so it is a big opportunity for somebody."

Honda Motorsport Corporation said it was pulling out of Formula One because of the global financial crisis.

Takeo Fukui, the chief executive of Honda Motors, announced at a news conference in Tokyo that the company would be willing to sell the team.

However, if a buyer cannot be found they will withdraw from the 2009 competition, ending the Japanese car giant's nine-year involvement in the sport.

Mr Fukui said: "This difficult decision has been made in light of the quickly deteriorating operating environment facing the global auto industry, brought on by the sub-prime problem in the United States, the deepening credit crisis and the sudden contraction of the world economies.

"Honda must protect its core business activities and secure the long term as widespread uncertainties in the economies around the globe continue to mount. A recovery is expected to take some time."

Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) president Max Mosely pledged to push through cost-cutting measures to help secure the sport's future.

He told Sky News: "Once the costs come down a lot of these good old Formula One entrepreneurs will come in and start a team or buy a team because they can do so for a reasonable amount of money. The trouble is at the moment it's too expensive."

A statement by the FIA called the current cost of competing in Formula One "unsustainable".

Honda Motor Corporation is dealing with faltering sales worldwide and the Formula One team is not the only casualty.

Yesterday, 490 temporary employees were told they would be laid off at the end of January, while last month 270 temporary employees were informed their contracts were not being renewed.