Richards considering Honda rescue deal
|By Jonathan Noble||Sunday, December 21st 2008, 11:04 GMT|
Prodrive boss David Richards has flown to the Middle East for discussions about a potential rescue deal for the Honda Racing Formula One team.
Richards has been pondering whether to get involved in a buy-out of Honda in the wake of the Japanese car manufacturer's decision to pull out of F1.
And although he has made no secret of the fact that he is interested in a return to F1 management, having had spells at Benetton and BAR, he has vowed only to come back if the circumstances are right.
This is why he is now holding talks with investors in the Middle East who want to bankroll an effort. The Kuwait-based Investment Dar Company (TID) are shareholders in his Prodrive company.
Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, Richards said: "There are a group of people in the Middle East who want to support a Formula One entry for me and have been very specific about it for a year now. But we have to agree when the timing is right."
Honda Racing CEO Nick Fry said on Friday that he expected news of the progress being made to find a team buyer to be made public in the New Year - although Richards admitted that any deal he was involved in would need careful thinking before talks could progress.
"When you sit down in the cold light of day and realise the liability you would be taking on, and the huge restructuring of staff and resources that will be needed, investors will have to think long and hard before taking a punt," explained Richards.
"You will have to bridge a big gap in finance, probably for three years, before balancing the accounts."
The Mail on Sunday reports that other interested parties in Honda include Greek shipping tycoon Achilleas Kallakis and Force India boss Vijay Mallya.
Richards' ambitions for F1 have also been given a fresh impetus by the decision of Subaru to withdraw their Prodrive-run team from the World Rally Championship.
"It affects about 20 per cent of our business, but we are financially sound and have a talented, nimble organisation with a strong automotive arm looking at future technologies," added Richards.
"Sentiment and perception about the relevance of motorsport has changed in six weeks with the dramatic economic downturn. I have not ruled out getting back into Formula One, it's something I am very interested to do.
"But the big question remains: Is it too big a challenge at this moment in time? That's what I need to determine."