Not losing face

Honda F1I must admit, I find the recent earth-shattering Japanese pullouts from high-end motorsport extremely disturbing, and, more to the point of this blog, extremely annoying. First Honda, gone from F1, now both Suzuki and – perhaps most importantly of all three – Subaru gone from the WRC.

In Japan, most of life revolves around not losing face. Let there be no doubt, these three companies have now lost face, big time. But every gram of reasoning behind these terrible pull-outs is the concept of the Japanese not losing AS MUCH face as they might have done without an economic crisis. I thought I’d put ‘Japan Losing Face’ into a Google search to see what it spat out. I came across this rather heavy article:

Rather than plow through the lot, here’s the important bit:

‘In high-context cultures, group harmony is of utmost importance. People in these cultures dislike direct confrontation, and for the most part avoid expressing a clear “no”. Evasion and inaccuracy are preferred in order to keep appearances pleasant. There is a danger of losing face simply by not reaching an agreement with another person or group, if that was the goal. Being humiliated before the group, or losing face before one’s constituents, can be a fate worse than death in some cases.[7]’

Right, be aware that I’ll never be able to explain how important ‘not losing face’ is to the Japanese. In the case of Honda, Subaru and Suzuki, face loss is dramatic, and humiliation is complete. The three companies have failed. Dismally. Just look at their results over the last couple of years: Honda has won just the one race and have had a dreadful time since their full return in 2005, Subaru haven’t won a rally for two years. Suzuki have been nowhere. But all three have been able to reduce loss of face by tagging this failure to ‘current global economic conditions’.

Honda, Takeo Fukui:

“Honda must protect its core business activities and secure the long term as widespread uncertainties in the economies around the globe continue to mount. A recovery is expected to take some time.

“Under these circumstances, Honda has taken swift and flexible measures to counter this sudden and expansive weakening of the marketplace in all business areas.

“However, in recognition of the need to optimize the allocation of management resources, including investment regarding the future, we have decided to withdraw from Formula One participation.”

Subaru, Ikuo Mori:

“Our business environment has rapidly deteriorated. In order to protect the Subaru brand we were forced to make this decision. Since the autumn, the global economic turmoil has led to the rapid shrinkage of auto markets both in developed and emerging nations.”

Suzuki (unattributed):

“In responding to the contraction of the automotive sales caused by recent global economic turmoil, Suzuki has been promptly taking possible countermeasures including the reassessment of its global production output. The company, however, foresees the shrinking trend in longer periods of time rather than a short-term phenomenon. To secure its own business environment for tomorrow, the organization reviews every aspect of the operations and decided to focus on the core business functions such as the manufacturing system, environment technologies, and development of new-generation powertrains. As a result, Suzuki concluded to suspend the WRC activities from 2009.”

Well, this is all terribly disappointing and is a result of failure to compete, more than anything. Yes, the credit crunch won’t make things easier, but here are three Japanese companies who have simply found top-level motorsport too difficult.

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No use to stay in unless they change the aerorules back. They should never have changed the dimension and proportions. 2009 cars looks like snowplow and the worst is this small back wing, will make the sponsors happy too. 2008 was the most exciting season ever, last corner decision, why change?
Can you imagine changing soccer rules every year?

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I can cope with rules changes occuring for a reason, I’m quite in favour of video evidence being available for referees in football for instance. I’m holding judgement on the aero rule changes too, if they do help overtaking then I’m in. I don’t like the idea of rules changes to make the racing easier to sell though.

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Stop the press. Apparently, some paper in Italy is saying some Mexican billionare has come to Honda’s rescue and, presumably, bought the team.

“The news is not official as all the details have yet to be formalised. But two things are certain – the team has been saved and the drivers will be Jenson Button and rookie Bruno Senna in place of Rubens Barrichello.” u/article.aspx?id=704353

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Car manufacturers have hit hard times after years of decadence, so they see fit to protect their brands by taking away the fun and excitement – the motor sport, and continuing to churn out dull tat, like Justy and legend and yet they have faith that this move will be benefitial to their brand. Honda should have given up the “earth dreams” concept in favour of a title sponsor especially as in F1 they were off the pace and F1 is not green and it never will be, I hope.

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No brand joins F1 for pleasure only, it is always a business decision. If the 2009 cars appear to be as ugly as the winter tests predict one might see even more sponsors and car manufacturers leave, simply because it ain’t advertisement anymore.
The sport attracts viewers and visitors because it is cool and fast and furious. Hybrid snowplows ain’t cool at all, except maybe for Prius drivers..

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For whatever reasons of pulling out of competition, one thing is sure, the state of corporate economies is just not right now, and it makes sense to cut down on expenses in every concievable way, and sports being one. R & D can be achieved in other ways other than sports.

Though we’ll miss out on the fun and excitement!!!

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I’m not sure everyone has got the point on this blog entry. What Bill is saying is:

– the Japanese car companies have been failing in Motorsport for years
– the failure has been due to their own lack of competitiveness
– they have wanted to pull out for years because they have been getting little result as a return on their investment
– they have slogged on regardless, because ‘pulling out’ due to failure on the track would be a loss of face
– the economic downturn has allowed them to give another reason for pulling out. It has become their ‘scapegoat’. So the wording of the press releases is all about ‘we are leaving motorsport to protect our brands and our workers’, and nothing to do with ‘we were just too s**t to win anything’.

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One thing to say about racing not selling cars. This may be right for Honda and Suzuki but how many Impreza STis and WRCs were sold off the back of rallying. They may have sold some anyway as fast and cheap like the Mitsub Evo but that does not explain why so many were in Mica Blue with Gold writing. BTW bike racing, especially Superbikes does sell bikes. I know numerous Bikers who bought the latest winner of the BSB or WSB

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sport car f1

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fords,citroens,skodas,peu geots,mitsuz,audis and even lancias sold because of the range their brands offered, same goes for bimmers and mercs, toyotas, hondas and ferraris they all had/have icons we all wanted except for subaru who capitalised on wrc and had really nothing else to offer to anyone in their right mind.. so yup I guess racing sells cars… ;D brand trends aren´t created on the track and neither are the status symbols avreage joe buys regardless of income.. right about the bikes though, men in guimpsuits die thinking they´re rossi coz they´ve got the same bike–coool..

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mica blue :D were there other colours ?

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re.: what sells cars…
sense, purpose and nothing else really matters ..really…

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perodua vs smart
lexus vs merc/bmw
peugeot vs citroen


m3 vs 530d estate


aaand racing ?

in the scale of things, in the U.S. f1 doesnt really ring a bell to anyone and neither does wrc ..they´d probably think it´s an abbreviation for world wrestling championship .. and we over here in the “free world” don´t buy our cars because the brand won last years f1 far as I know it´s more a class thing tied in with pleasure vs purpose vs economy so why can´t we let sports be just what they are mainly a bore but sometimes the most intense fun ever and cut out the pseudo mumbojumbo know why-how and have a cool blog ?

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the whole loosing face theme leaves a bitter racial aftertaste ..or is it just me ?

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as for the green issue, hybrid snowploughs & things.. u can´t stop evolution and we´re out of oil.. the day when bmw puts a hybrid into their latest m5 is coming and it will still be an m5 and will still be fast and furious and cool so who caes if it´s green ???????

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hear hear ! :D

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