The world of Formula One is currently agog with the emergence of lesser teams winning races and making a mockery of the so called ‘big’ teams. After a solitary win in his career, Jenson Button has now won three out of four races in the 2009 season with Brawn GP and is, at the time of writing, odds on favourite for the drivers’ title. This is just the beginning of the fairytale. A mere four months ago, Honda announced it was leaving the sport because of financial losses due to the global recession. This meant the potential loss of roughly 800 jobs at F1 HQ in Brackley and more publicly Jenson’s as well, before Brawn GP was formed from the ashes a mere month before the start of the 2009 season.
The sheer amount of money Honda had pumped into the sport is a clear indication that the Japanese firm had every intention of giving Formula One their best shot and becoming the most competitive team on the grid. Unfortunately, despite being the richest team in the paddock, Honda was never competitive – its sole race win coming in Hungary 2006 when all others crashed in the wet, leaving Button afloat to cross the line to the chequered flag. I went to a motor show once and saw a little lad jumping up and down on the front wing of the Honda F1 car. It was the first time that season the car hadn’t broken (much to the relief of his dad’s wallet). Yet despite this poor track record, Honda had high hopes for this season. Realising that money is nothing without design, they wrote off development of the 2007 and 2008 season’s car, leaving Button picking up after everyone at the back of the grid. The mission said Honda was to win races frequently in 2009 and all their resources for two years were gobbled up. Having checked the bank balance though, the development costs had taken their toll and Honda decided that spending money on its production cars was far less frivolous. It’s therefore a fairytale that after the company’s shock exit, Jenson and the team are not only employed somehow, but are making everyone else on the grid look like amateurs. The situation is a real life Days of Thunder, where Tom Cruise joins a struggling racing team (in this case NASCAR, rather than F1) with no sponsors, money or hope and yet somehow wins. Seeing the Brawn GP car with no sponsorship on its livery is a constant reminder of how this team shouldn’t even make race day and how uplifting it is that they do and win. Throughout all the superlatives for Brawn GP and in particular Jenson Button, no-one seems to be mentioning Honda. Yes they ran off into the sunset abruptly, but that was to ensure that the general public still have new cars to buy, that factories around the world don’t close and quite frankly so the fantastic Civic Type R can stay in production. Brawn GP drive the car that Honda built and I would imagine therefore that Honda are gutted it isn’t themselves on the top step of the podium. I guess we’ll never know whether finances could have been re-distributed to enable Honda to run a car in a race or two in 2009 and as a result, reap the considerable financial rewards Brawn GP now receive. Honda also very publicly stopped production of the Civic for three months at their factory in Swindon, although thankfully all employees have now returned to their day jobs. Ironically what all this turmoil means is that there’s never been a better time to buy a Honda. They’re not likely to go bust anytime soon, their car range is very strong and crucially for you, their prices are dropping. 0% finance is now offered on many cars in their range, most notably the Civic, Civic Type R and CR-V. The 0% finance packages also include complimentary redundancy cover meaning that Honda will pay up to 12 of your monthly payments if the worst should happen in your job.
The Civic Type R with the top-of-the-range GT spec which includes rain sensitive windscreen wipers, fog lights and a host of interior creature comforts can be purchased with a deposit of £6,085 with 36 monthly payments of £199 and a final payment of £6,026.17. When you consider there was a waiting list for the Type R a mere six months ago, it may be time to take the plunge.
Mark Creese is a writer and a car enthusiast. Here he discusses the Honda Civic.