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Honda and Fry: Learning from the past

NEWS STORY
11/01/2009

Anyone with even a passing interest in Formula One will be aware that the Honda F1 team's Chief Executive Nick Fry isn't shy when it comes to sharing his thoughts with the media. Much like Gordon Brown uses the BBC to inform the people that tractor production is up, so too Mr Fry has his favoured media outlets.

Therefore, the fact that Nick Fry's favoured mouthpiece has not, thus far, run a story denying reports that he is considering making a bid for the Brackley outfit, would appear to suggest that this is precisely what is happening.

There are many good people at Brackley and it would be a tragic blow should the doors close for good later this month. A buyer must be found, however, in these difficult times one has to wonder who might be interested in pouring money into such a project.

There is talk that Greek shipping tycoon Achilleas Kallakis has expressed interest, however, one has to ask what possible use a Formula One team might be to a shipping tycoon.

We are all familiar with the line, 'how do you make a small fortune in F1... you start with a large one' (boom boom!), but that is the truth, it is a fact of (F1) life.

Formula One is not a computer game, you cannot sit down with a couple of hundred million, employ the best brains in the business, sign Lewis Hamilton as your number one driver and your best mate as his teammate. This is real life.

Therefore one question has to be asked of any possible Nick Fry bid.

Given his monumental failure with the mighty resources of Honda behind him, what on earth makes anyone think he can do any better with his own money, or that of the ubiquitous "consortium".

In late 2004, Honda bought a 45 percent stake in British American Racing. The team, under the guidance of David Richards, finished runner-up in the Constructors' Championship, over 140 points behind Ferrari, but ahead of Renault, Williams and McLaren.

What happened next is shrouded in mystery, however, the key facts are that Richards was shown the door and Fry, who had been brought to Brackley by his former boss at Prodrive, took over as Team Principal.

Despite a poor start to the 2005 season things picked up in the second half, and while the team had no points after the first nine races, thirty-eight points in the remaining ten saw it finish sixth in the Constructors' Championship, albeit almost thirty points behind fifth-placed Williams.

In the meantime, with the tobacco advertising ban looming large, Honda had bought the remaining 55 percent of the team. The Japanese giant was back in F1 in its own right, lining up on the grid in Bahrain.

In his first year in charge at Brackley, Fry was already making statements that were to become depressingly familiar, 'this is a transitional year', 'we are a young team, 'we are still learning' he repeatedly told us.

On the surface, 2006 didn't look too bad, the team finished fourth in the Constructors' Championship and Jenson Button - then darling and only hope of championship glory for the British media - scored an emotional win in Hungary.

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