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Richards rules out Honda buyout

David Richards, Autosport ShowProdrive boss David Richards has ruled himself out for now as a contender to buy the Honda Racing team, has learned.

Richards had been linked with a potential bid to buy the Brackley-based outfit following December's announcement that Honda were to quit F1 with immediate effect.

However, sources have told that despite Richards talking about a takeover with potential backers from Kuwait, plus the outfit's chiefs Nick Fry and Ross Brawn, he has now officially pulled himself out of the discussions.

It is believed that the high costs of becoming successful in F1, despite a raft of budget cutting measures being introduced, was one of the key factors in convincing him to put his plans on hold unless circumstances change dramatically.

Richards hinted at the Autosport International Show on Thursday that he was unconvinced that now was the right time for him to return to F1.

"All I can say is that I have made it very clear that the only terms (under which) I would ever consider a return or an involvement was if I felt we could be competitive - and nobody expects to win in their first year of Formula One," he said on the main Autosport stage.

"It has also got to be financially viable. You expect to (have to) invest but you also expect it to work. I just personally feel that the current environment is too unsettled.

"The cost-cutting process that has been put in place has not yet seen its full benefit, and I don't think it will be until 2010 that you will see those issues roll out properly. The teams have still got a burden of overhead that is unsustainable. So consequently, with the window of time for entry, I just question whether it is right at the moment."

Richards believes that the raft of cost-cutting measures agreed between the FIA and the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) in December, although hailed as a big success at the time, do not go far enough in helping the sport.

"I would regard those as modest inroads if I am honest with you," he said. "When you make changes to thing, and you have to make a radical shift to get back to a sustainable level, you make that one-hit, one cut very quickly to get it done and then move forward from that point.

"You don't do it by a series of 1000 cuts. If I was involved I would be pushed hard for a lot deeper cuts a lot quicker."

He added: "I think there are still many people in F1 (for whom) reality has not yet sunk in about just how bad the situation is out there in the world - in business, commerce and everyone's way of life at the moment.

"If Formula One does not reconnect itself with its fan base and with the man in the street, and bring itself down to earth, I fear for its future. I know some people at the top end of the sport are addressing that and are well aware of that...It is a bitter medicine that is required at the moment but it has to be done."

Richards said any plan for him to return to F1 would be decided on purely business grounds, and would not be influenced by any personal desire to potentially become champion after enjoying success with BAR back in 2004.

"We were runner up that year behind Ferrari, and everyone assumes I would be motivated to go back for the last push. That is not what motivates me at all.

"It will be a business decision. It will be a hard-headed business decision, not an emotive one when I make it."

Honda Racing CEO Nick Fry has claimed that more than a dozen parties are being looked at as potential buyers for the team. Sources suggest that the leading contender is Greek shipping tycoon Achilleas Kallakis.

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