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Brawn: There was no other option

NEWS STORY
10/03/2009

Speaking at Barcelona, where his team continues to impress even though it has only run twice in anger, Ross Brawn has admitted he had no choice but to take control of the former Honda F1 team, otherwise the entire operation would have folded putting over 700 employees out of work.

"If I am frank, there were no choices," he told reporters. "If the management group - because it is not just myself - had not taken this task on, there would be no team. All of the staff would have been made redundant.

"It wasn't a difficult choice in that respect," he continued. "Things can go wrong, but we are optimistic and if we can capitalise on the performance of the car, and the car looks good, then I think the team have got a future."

Despite rumours coming out of Brackley that staff must accept wage cuts of up to 40% or else face the prospect of seeing half the workforce made redundant, Brawn insists that the situation is in hand and the widely speculated cull will not take place.

"It is fair to say that we will have to look at the size of the team because we have gone from a manufacturer to a privateer," he admitted. "It is not going to be an easy process but I think everybody in the team understands the situation and wants the team to survive. And it will give a career to a majority of people."

Brawn confirmed that one person who will keep their job is Nick Fry, who is retained as team CEO.

Since his appearance at last week's FOTA press conference in Geneva, nothing has been heard of Fry, the man who took Brawn to Brackley. While the former team boss enjoyed the media spotlight on Thursday, telling everyone that the Brackley outfit had been saved, his absence on Friday was noticeable, especially in light of Honda Japan admitting that Brawn was the new sole owner of the team.

"Nick has been a key member of the team," said Brawn today, "he retains his position as CEO and his position hasn't changed, despite the speculation. He's been a vital part of putting this all together."

According to SportsPro, the Honda Motor Co. Ltd has handed over more than $200m as part of the deal that sees Brawn take control of the team. It claims the company has given Brawn "$110.9 million of fixed assets, including $38.4 million in leasehold land and buildings and $36.9 million in factory equipment and machinery, as well as $50.2 million cash to cover a year's staff wages that it would have otherwise had to pay in redundancy costs".

In addition it is claimed that the company has written off significant debts owed to it by the team.

Furthermore, according to SportsPro, Brawn is said to have made personal guarantees in order to keep the team running as a going concern for at least twelve month. This is said to be vital to Honda as it needs 12 months to legally absolve its liabilities to the team's staff.

With $40m from FOM for TV fees already in hand, Brawn GP is thought to have as much as $120m for this year's budget, even allowing for redundancy payments, though that is around a third of what Honda spent in 2008.

Looking ahead, Brawn said: "We are completely flexible on what we do in the future, but I hope we will have a proper long term planning and proper structure for the team going forward."

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