Honda F1 team looks like it has been saved by a management buyout headed by Ross Brawn and now it needs to be renamed and rebranded. So what shall it be called?
If we had a bit more time we could propose to the BBC that they do a reality game show to find a name, along the lines of the ones where they find a lead actor for Oliver or Sound of Music. Graham Norton could come flouncing on to our screens on a Saturday night to host it, with Bernie and Max as the gnarly old judges.
It’s a clean sheet of paper really, they could come up with anything, within reason. I remember a few years back when David Richards was put in charge of BAR by the parent company British American Tobacco. He conducted a name finding exercise with focus groups and all that carry-on and the winner was “Pure Racing”. It’s a nice sentiment but not a very punchy name for a racing team. And it wouldn’t have sat well with a title sponsor name alongside.
There’s no point reviving an old name like Lotus or Brabham or Tyrrell because you should never go backwards in life and those great names had their day. This is not it.
One innovative approach would be for Brawn to sell naming rights to the team, of course, like Arsenal did with the Emirates Stadium, but it was only the stadium that got named, not the team. It would be quite a novel approach to sell the team name to the highest bidder and it would give them a sensational return on investment. But you’d have to be sure they were in it for the long haul, because you couldn’t go changing the name of the every three to five years.
Funnily enough Emirates were looking at a sponsorship with Honda when the plug got pulled and I’ve heard that there is some Middle Eastern money involved in this deal.
These days a sports team is a brand. Think of football teams like Manchester United or Liverpool or the Chicago Bulls basketball team. It’s a huge merchandising and branding operation, built around the name and so the name has to be right. There is a suggestion that he may be lining up to call it Brawn Racing and has registered some domain names with that title. Presumably that would mean that this year’s car, powered by the Mercedes engine would be called the RB01, same name coding as Red Bull uses.
Teams have generally either been named after the owner (McLaren, Williams, Tyrrell, or the company which owns them (Benetton, Honda, Toyota). A third way is teams like Pacific and Spirit and FORCE, with neutral sounding nothing names. I really hope that Ross doesn’t go down that route, but Brawn Racing isn’t great either.
So what shall they be called? If I were in Ross’ shoes I would call the team “Speed F1” or “Speed Racing”. That’s the best I can come up with after ten minutes reflection on a Saturday lunchtime. What ideas do you have?
Tomorrow we’ll take a look at what colour the cars should be…