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11 Nov 2009 14:16
Formula One can expect Japan’s departed carmakers and companies to return eventually but it could be a long wait, according to championship-winning team boss Ross Brawn.
Brawn’s former Honda team pulled out last December while Toyota followed this month and Bridgestone, Formula One’s sole tyre supplier, have announced they will leave at the end of next season.
The Briton told Reuters that he suspected the Japanese would have a rethink some time in the future, once the global financial situation had improved sufficiently.
“They’ve obviously decided that this is how they need to respond to difficulties they are facing, but they have got a lot of history in Formula One, particularly Honda and Bridgestone, so let’s hope,” Brawn said.
“It will take a while, it’s going to take a few years but Honda’s was their second or third involvement in Formula One,” added Brawn, whose team use Mercedes engines and have been linked to a takeover by the German carmaker.
“Manufacturers look at the value to them of Formula One, there’s no sentiment I’m afraid. So when it’s viable they come in, and when it’s not they don’t.”
While Honda’s British-based team was a stand-alone operation rescued by a management buyout led by Brawn, Toyota’s is integrated within a car plant in the German city of Cologne and is set to be wound up.
Brawn was disappointed for his friends at Toyota, with the company pulling out only months after committing to the sport to 2012, and whose exit followed that of German manufacturer BMW.
However, he said it was inevitable that the tide of manufacturer involvement would ebb and flow.
“It’s a major sport and it [manufacturer involvement] will come round again.
But luckily there is a lot of interest from privateers and they will sustain Formula One for a good few years,” said the former Ferrari technical director.
“I’ve been in Formula One for over 30 years and I’ve seen it go from total privateers to a huge number of manufacturers back to privateers and it just goes in cycles depending on the climate.
“There has always been a core group.
“I think there are some manufacturers that take a day-to-day view and unfortunately those are leaving now but they are being filled up by a lot of private teams.”
Despite the departure of Toyota and BMW, the number of teams on the grid is set to rise from 10 to 13 next season.—Reuters
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