MPH: Mark Hughes on...

The going got tough, and Honda and BMW got out of F1. But the difficulties faced by teams do not solely result from an imploding world economy

Honda and BMW. Two car companies tailor-made for F1; strong sporting images, aggressively technological, pushing the boundaries. Except their F1 teams weren't. It's probably not a coincidence that the withdrawals came on the back of horribly uncompetitive seasons. Without the dead economy they maybe would have stayed around and weathered the embarrassment, knowing their teams would pull out of the dip eventually. But that was a luxury no longer available, with the millions draining out of the accounts, the unsold cars and the boards clamouring for action.

The BMW decision was sudden, just like the Honda one, and there was something blackly comedic about reading the BMW recruitment ads in the back of that day's AUTOSPORT, a day after the announcement of the withdrawal. Yet it was only a few weeks ago in the midst of speculation about a breakaway championship that there was talk of a pact between the manufacturer teams, that if they broke away they would each commit for five years on pain of a $50 million fine to each of the others. If Ferrari, Toyota, Renault, BMW and Mercedes were each prepared to commit, on pain of a payment of $200 million if they reneged, then they were surely serious about staying around.

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