Posted: 12/31/08 10:21 AM
So Carlos Slim Helu is not buying the team, but here's another update on a potential buyer:
Earlier this week reports emerged that Mexican billionaire and second-richest man in the world Carlos Slim had all but purchased Honda's F1 team as the Japanese carmaker exits the sport, but Slim has since denied any such interest. That leaves the door open for another possible buyer in the form of Force India co-owner Vijay Mallya.
The Indian billionaire's enthusiasm for F1 is undeniable. In addition to buying into the former Spyker team, Mallya is working with Bernie Ecclestone to get India added to the F1 calendar. If such a deal does move forward, it will most likely be at a street race designed by Hermann Tilke, running through the Greater Noida area of New Delhi.
Other possible suitors for the remnants of Honda's F1 program include PSA Peugeot Citroen and Prodrive's David Richards. The report today from Slim's Telmex racing team, revealing that Carlos Slim has denied any involvement in the purchase of the Honda F1 program came as a surprise, as previous reports had indicated the deal was all but done.
The toughest work in securing the Honda F1 bid won't be the purchase price, however - Honda has offered to bear the outstanding debts of the team and put a price tag of just $1, provided a backer can convince the company that it will develop and carry the team forward.
That's where the real cost lies, in employing 700 people and their attendant facilities and operations. Honda's 2008 F1 operating budget is thought to top $300 million, though a drastic streamlining could cut the team's annual outlay back to a still-substantial $70 million per year.