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GP Week : Issue 37
>>F1 INSIGHT T WO weeks ago, the future of the team formerly known as Honda Racing was uncertain. The two most viable and reportedly interested parties in taking over the squad had pulled out and all that remained as an option was the much-vaunted and widely debated management buyout But in the space of ten days the team, which at one very recent moment was threatened with being disbanded, now finds itself being lauded as potentially unbeatable! Could it be, could it really be, that Ross Brawn and his new F1 team are about to pull off one of the most incredible turnarounds in the history of Formula 1? The general and perfectly genuine feeling at present is that yes… they really could. It’s been a tough old winter for the staff at Brackley. The HRF1 Team figured out early on in 2008 that the RA108 was a dog… it was at its first test as I recall. The season, once it had begun, started to snowball into a nightmare of substantial proportions, and so the very smart decision was taken to scrap all thoughts of putting a concerted effort into salvaging 2008, and just concentrate instead on 2009. The new regulations would take a lot of brain-power, so why not give it everything the team had at its disposal? And that’s exactly what they did. All efforts were put into creating a 2009 F1car which would put Honda at the front of the pack, and finally cement the team into the lofty position on the top step of the podium it had only achieved once since taking full ownership of BAR. With Ross Brawn on board, the team had the visionary at its helm that it had lacked since the long-ago departed David Richards. Not only was Brawn a brilliant tactician, but a technically minded genius and the kind of man manager that the heavy heads at the team needed to pick them up and return an element of pride to their work. And then came December 5. Honda’s decision to pull out of Formula 1 was sudden and immediate. And it begged a huge question. Why now? Why, after having put all their eggs into the basket of the 2009 championship, did they just decide to chuck all that hard work and money into the bin and walk away? Sure, Honda had not turned over the number of car sales it had wanted, but they’d suffered nowhere near as badly as some of their auto-manufacturing rivals. The truth was far deeper seated in that initial purchase of the squad from British American Tobacco. Wise paddock sages will tell you that Honda never really wanted to own an F1 team, but had 25