Honda withdraws from Formula One
Japanese carmaker Honda has announced it is pulling out of Formula One, blaming the global financial crisis for the decision, reported CNN.
Honda President and CEO Takeo Fukui said: "This difficult decision has been made in light of the quickly deteriorating operating environment facing the global auto industry, brought on by the sub-prime problem in the United States, the deepening credit crisis and the sudden contraction of the world economies."
He said the company would be willing to sell the team. "We will enter into consultation with the associates of the Honda racing team and its engine supplier Honda Racing Development regarding the future of the two companies. This will include offering the team for sale."
The announcement by the Japanese automaker, which is facing faltering sales worldwide, casts question marks over the future of other manufacturers in the current uncertain financial climate.
FIA president Max Mosley warned earlier this year the sport was unsustainable at the moment because of the high costs needed to compete. Read more about Max Mosley's warning
It would also mean the grid being reduced to only 18 cars and would leave drivers Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello without seats for the 2009 season.
"The team had done a superb job of getting ready for the 2009 season and I offer my sincere apologies to everyone involved," Fukui said. "I also apologize to our loyal fans who have supported us so well over the years in F1."
Japanese team Super Aguri, which was backed by Honda, pulled out of F1 this year.
Honda's decision also means some 600 staff at the team's headquarters in England face redundancy, unless a buyer is found soon.
The 2009 season opens March 29 at the Australian Grand Prix.
The Honda team, with an operational budget of around $294 million, finished ninth in the constructors' standings last season with Jenson Button 18th out of 20 drivers with three points.
Rubens Barichello, who was dropped by the team going into 2009, was 14th with the remaining points.