As expected, Honda Motor Company chief Takeo Fukui in Tokyo confirmed on Friday afternoon that the Japanese manufacturer is withdrawing from formula one ahead of the 2009 season. He said the decision was taken as a result of the prevailing conditions in the automotive sales sector, including a near-unprecedented decline of more than 30 percent in its biggest market, the United States, last month.

“Honda Motor Co. has come to the conclusion that we will withdraw from all Formula One activities, making 2008 the last season for participation,” Fukui stated. “This difficult decision has been made in light of the quickly deteriorating operating environment facing the global auto industry, brought on by the subprime problem in the United States, the deepening credit crisis and the sudden contraction of the world economies.”

Fukui also revealed that Honda will not even remain involved in F1 as an engine supplier, despite attempts to sell the Brackley based team as a going concern before the 2009 season commences in late March.

Instead, it is understood that Honda team boss and former Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn has arranged that ant potential buyer of the Brackley outfit will be powered by 2.4 litre Ferrari V8s. 2008 constructors’ world champions Ferrari have the capacity to supply an extra team next year, given the switch of customer partner Force India to Mercedes power.

According to early speculation, one potential buyer of the team could be Dubai International Capital (DIC), which came close to buying Super Aguri when Honda pulled its support for the satellite team earlier this year.