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Brawn to lead Honda?

NEWS STORY
27/02/2009

While it has still to be officially confirmed by Honda Japan, the Times is backing up Pitpass' claim that the former Honda F1 team has been saved following a management buy-out.

According to the British newspaper, the management buy-out is led by Ross Brawn and is to be funded by a combination of money from Honda, sponsorship and Bernie Ecclestone - though this probably means advances on the F1 TV 'money pot'.

The new car, complete with Mercedes engine, will run at Silverstone next week before heading off for the final pre-season test at Barcelona.

There is still no official news on the full driver line-up, however, Jenson Button will drive the car next week.

According to Pitpass sources, in some ways Honda will continue as a 'back door' backer of the team. In other words, in addition to the money it has already provided - the rent on the Brackley factory, the World Championship entry and various other 'bills' - the Japanese company can continue to finance the team whilst not being publicly associated with it. This way, should the global financial crisis ease off, F1 budgets seriously cut, and the team's form improve, Honda could well return to Brackley next year or in 2011 and buy back the team.

On the other hand, if the situation worsens in terms of the global financial crisis and F1 budgets are not significantly reduced, Honda can say it publicly washed its hands of the Brackley outfit in 2008 having met all its commitments, thereby there is no loss of face for the Japanese manufacturer.

All of this will mean little to some members of the current workforce, who, either way, are sure to lose their jobs, what with the reduced funding for the team, the reduction in testing and the quest to reduce spending throughout F1.

Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph reports that despite the buy-out, all is not well within the workforce at Brackley. Indeed, there is even talk of industrial action.

Other than the fact that the team may need to shed as many as 300 employees, there is concern that under the new management the redundancy packages on offer are far less generous than those offered by Honda in December. The Telegraph claims that money set aside by Honda will instead be used to increase the longevity of the team – something Pitpass editor Chris Balfe warned of early last month.

Furthermore, in another move to leave more money in the pot, the remaining staff will be asked to take a 10 percent pay cut, with some managers being asked to take as much as a 20 percent ‘hit’.

This has led to claims from some quarters that those workers who have remained loyal to the team, holding on since December 5 – when Honda announced its withdrawal – might have been better off if they’d taken the original redundancy package.

We will update this story as we hear more, but we stress that the Times story, like Pitpass' yesterday, is clearly based on solid information from reliable sources but remains unconfirmed by Honda.

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