Monday, February 23, 2009

Virgin-Honda for 2009 line-up ?

Sir Richard Branson has revealed for the first time he "might be interested" in becoming involved in Formula One.

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone confirmed earlier this week Branson's Virgin Group "would love" to take on the up-for-sale Honda Racing.
The team stunned the world of motor sport in early January when they announced their immediate withdrawal from Formula One due to the effects of the global economic crisis.
It had been hoped a new owner would soon be found to allow Honda, in whatever new guise, to be on the grid for the season-opening race in Australia in five weeks' time.
A management buy-out, led by current CEO Nick Fry and team boss Ross Brawn, has been mooted for some time.
That was until news of the emergence of Branson's Virgin Group came to the fore a few days ago.

However, Branson is refusing to confirm that. Speaking on Saturday, he instead suggested F1 needs to clean up its act first due to its tag as one of the most pollutant sports on the planet.
Initially trying to sidestep the issue, a smiling Branson told BBC News: "If we are in discussions then I wouldn't be allowed to say because there would be some kind of clause which would prohibit me talking about it."
But when pressed on the issue, he added: "I love grands prix.
"If Bernie Ecclestone can make it more cost-effective for the likes of the Virgin brand to come into the sport, and if he can champion clean motor-car racing, which is possible to do by making sure all the cars run on clean fuels, at some stage we might be interested in getting involved."
Branson, though, refused to be drawn on whether he was in talks with Honda, repeating: "If there were I wouldn't be allowed to tell you, so I can't clarify it I'm afraid."
He later added on BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I think that there are faults there that would need to be rectified before we moved into Formula One.
"(But) with the Virgin brand expanding on a global basis, it is certainly something that is attractive."
Honda were the team who at least promoted a 'greener' image with their 'earth dreams' initiative during the last two seasons.
The team opted to run their cars without sponsorship logos, preferring instead a pixellated image of the earth to promote global awareness.
But without sponsors, and with a £300million-per-year budget to service, owners Honda Motor Co. in Japan had to face up to the harsh reality of the economic downturn.
World governing body, the FIA, in conjunction with the Formula One Teams' Association, have since been forced to act quickly to stop other teams from going to the wall.
Cost-cutting measures have been imposed, with others due to be enforced over time to ensure all teams are soon operating on a budget of 50million euros (£45million).
The sport is also turning to bio-fuel to help try to reduce its carbon footprint, so steps are being made in the direction Branson is seeking.
The question is whether Branson and his advisors can be convinced in time to take over the team for this year as the clock is ticking and deadlines are approaching.

One is understood to be with regard to Mercedes, as the German company are to provide engines.
However, it is believed a deadline set for the team to prove they have the finances in place to pay for the power-plants is looming.

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