Fry 'hopeful' team will race in 2009
|By Simon Strang and Steven English||Friday, December 5th 2008, 09:26 GMT|
Honda Racing's CEO Nick Fry remains 'hopeful' that the team will be on the grid in Melbourne next year despite the Japanese manufacturer announcing its immediate withdrawal from Formula One.
Fry also claims there are already interested potential buyers in the wings.
Honda aims to sell the Brackley-based outfit, following an announcement at a hastily prepared press conference in Japan that difficult financial conditions had forced the company to turn its back on grand prix racing.
And Fry told the BBC that frantic effort was going on behind the scenes to sell the team as a going concern.
"We have only had a short amount of time but in the last 12 hours we've had three serious people come to us suggesting they would like to buy the team, so we are still hoping to be there in Melbourne," he said.
"We have 700 people working for the team and at the moment it is business as usual.
"Obviously we have to go through the normal three-month consultation period with the staff to decide the future of the company and during that time we are hoping to find a buyer."
Fry said that Honda would prove a fantastic purchase for any potential Formula One team owner, given their heritage, resources and state-of-the-art facilities, and added that Ross Brawn's involvement in the design of the 2009 chassis was expected to significantly raise the outfit's competitiveness next year.
"This is a completely different situation from prior Formula One teams stopping, this team is one of the best funded, it has the best assets, the best resources in the pitlane with a fantastic group of people with a car obviously designed by Ross Brawn," he said. "I think we are a quite a desirable asset for somebody.
"This is all to do with the financial situation in the world and as you know all the motor companies are being struck very hard by falling sales. Clearly more success on the track would have been nice, but I think this is a much bigger picture issue.
"This year we have developing the Ross Brawn designed 2009 car and we are very hopeful that this team is going big step upwards."
Honda's decision to withdraw throws Jenson Button's immediate future into doubt, but Fry is hopeful the former grand prix winner would stand by the team should the Japanese manufacturer succeed in finding a buyer.
"Jenson has a contract with the team and if we can find new owners then we are hopeful he will continue with the rest of them," said Fry.
"He has been very much an integral part of the team for quite a few years now and he is a fantastic driver and a big asset to the team, which hopefully make the team even more attractive (to a buyer)."
Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone said he is keen for a buyer to have the team on the grid for the start of next season and he believes the progress Honda have already made in their preparations for the introduction of new regulations next season make the team an attractive option for anyone looking to enter F1.
"It's a big shame for Honda because I've no doubt that team would have been running certainly in the top four next year without any problems.
"They've been working hard and they've spent a lot of money to put themselves in that position, so if anyone does want to be in Formula One, this is a team they should certainly look to buy.
"It's a big opportunity today, with the way things are, for any company that's run efficiently to benefit."