Dec.21 (GMM) As much of the rest of the formula one world winds down for Christmas, David Richards has jetted out of the UK with a view to returning to the grand prix grid in 2009.
The British newspaper the Mail on Sunday revealed that the Prodrive chief flew by private jet to the Middle East, for talks with investors who may be keen to bankroll the purchase of the withdrawing Honda team.Bosses of the Brackley based team, former Prodrive deputy Nick Fry, and Ross Brawn, have been given just a matter of weeks to finalise the sale.Most pressingly, it is understood that Honda bigwigs in Tokyo seem willing only to continue propping up the outfit if a serious buyer is identified by Christmas."There are a group of people in the Middle East who want to support a formula one entry for me and have been very specific about it for a year now," Richards, believed to have travelled to Kuwait, said."But we have to agree when the timing is right. When you sit down in the cold light of day and realise the liability you would be taking on, and the huge restructuring of staff and resources that will be needed, investors will have to think long and hard before taking a punt."You will have to bridge a big gap in finance, probably for three years, before balancing the accounts," the 56-year-old said.Richards believes Prodrive is capable of taking on the challenge of F1, but admitted that the global financial crisis is a factor."Sentiment and perception about the relevance of motor sport has changed in six weeks with the dramatic economic downturn."I have not ruled out getting back into formula one, it's something I am very interested to do."But the big question remains: is it too big a challenge at this moment in time? That's what I need to determine."Richards also played down suggestions that because he and Jenson Button parted on less than glowing terms nearly four years ago, a reunion at Brackley in 2009 is unlikely."Jenson is an outstanding grand prix driver, the kind you would want to build a team around," the Briton said.