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Slim chances

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Slim chances

From Mexico to Middle East, the rush is on to resurrect Honda's F1 team in private hands. At stake is state of the art facility incorporating two wind tunnels, world renown and multiple-championship winning team leader, and a driver line-up...

From Mexico to Middle East, the rush is on to resurrect Honda's F1 team in private hands. At stake is state of the art facility incorporating two wind tunnels, world renown and multiple-championship winning team leader, and a driver line-up which may include one of the most storied surnames in the history of Formula 1. When the smoke clears this may all sound like Greek.

Ross Brawn Team Principal, Honda Racing F1 Team.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Drama: In November, Honda became Turkey of the month after stuffing the 700-plus team members by abruptly pulling the plug on their F1 programme. Nobody, not even Ross Brawn, who had landed at Brackley after a year-long sailing adventure with his family, saw this coming.

Honda is willing to help the buyer in the transition period and will sell the team for a song. Yes, Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood can buy this Summerwine for a dollar and a dime. But the new owners must be able to satisfy Honda of their staying power and long-term plans.

Even in these harsh economic times there are fat cats who will be prowling the halls of Honda F1 team, some will merely kick tires but some serious players are emerging.

Players: Honda's head honchos in Tokyo will soon hear bids backed by oil barons of Kuwait, a Telco billionaire of Latin America and waves may even be made in the Korean peninsula.

Looking for a quick desert wind blowing his way, David Richards of Prodrive has already flown to Kuwait to discuss re-entering the pinnacle of motorsports with financial backing from Kuwaiti Dar Investment Group. It was his Arabian knights who were behind his successful bid for an F1 franchise which was subsequently sidelined over the customer car row.

Richards knows how the Honda F1 team personnel feel: his own outfit lost a drive few weeks ago when another Japanese manufacturer, Subaru, pulled out of WRC, where Prodrive prepared cars for them for many years.

Also hoping to make a quick and clear connection with Honda in Japan is Carlos Slim, the Mexican el grande rich Telecommunications tycoon. Apart from Telmex, his business interests include Embratel, cell phone provider in Brazil, finance and publishing. Several Mexican drivers enjoy his support and Bruno Senna is also sponsored by Embratel.

According to published reports, the Mexican billionaire has already visited Brawn and Company at Brackley last week. Apparently, the team's car parking lot was cleared to allow his helicopter to land.

Hyundai, which entered the US market in the mid-80s, is now the fifth-largest manufacturer in the world with a plant in Montgomery, Alabama. They, along with Volkswagen, have been rumored for years to be pondering a plunge in Formula 1. Bernie Ecclestone, always keen to see big money, could ease their entry into the sport with deals only he knows how to make.

Surprisingly, even Vijay Mallya's name has been mentioned as one of the suitors. The high-flying Indian billionaire only last year entered Formula 1 after taking control of Spyker, aka Midland and Jordan.

The Portuguese publication Autosport.pt is reporting a possible joint bid from Nicholas Todt, son of ex-Ferrari General Jean Todt, and Tony Teixeira, the gold and mining Guru from Angola and one of the founding members of A1GP series, which now features a "Powered by Ferrari" car based on their 2004 Championship winning design.

Not to be blown out of waters is the interest shown in salvaging Honda F1 team by shipping tycoon Achilleas Kallakis.

This may all turn out to be Greek when the deck is cleared.

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