Honda - No regrets about pulling out of F1
Honda president Takanobu Ito insists his company had no choice but to pull out of F1 as it fell victim to the credit crunch, despite seeing his former Honda team, reincarnated as Brawn GP, winning both the drivers' and constructors' championships.
With the car firm struggling as a result of the worldwide recession, Honda announced in December 2008 that it would be quitting F1, leaving drivers Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello without a drive for the 2009 season. Team boss Ross Brawn stepped in at the eleventh hour to salvage the team, and in true fairytale fashion, Button stormed to six victories in the opening seven races and at the Interlagos Grand Prix in Brazil both Brawn and Button sealed the championship with one race remaining.
But the Honda boss, who took over from predecessor Takeo Fakui in June, maintains the move was the right one. "[I have] no regrets," he said. "Just a year ago, Mr. Fakui made the decision to withdraw from Formula One racing and I think it was the correct decision. We do love Formula One racing, but even more than that, we had to think about our company."
Richard Branson, whose Virgin brand was the Brawn team's sole sponsor for much of the season, paid tribute to the car firm's integrity. "I think one thing people have overlooked is the fact that Honda wrote out a cheque for £120m so the team didn't go bust," Branson told BBC Radio Five Live. "There are many people out there who would have just pulled out and saved that money, and they have got no credit for that."