With just six weeks to go until the 2009 F1 season begins in Melbourne time is fast running out for the former Honda Racing team to find a buyer. The BBC reports that there is hope with several buyers sniffing around the back of the Honda garage. One of those has been confirmed today as being Richard Branson. “We are negotiating with several buyers and one of these parties is the Virgin Group,” a Honda spokesman said.
While the team could be sold for as little as £1, the new buyer would have to stump tens of millions each year just to get to the grid each weekend. It is understood that Honda is willing to offer some cash if a buyer can be found, as this will be cheaper than paying out contracts of the 700-strong workforce.
The F1-Team-formerly-known-as-Honda has negotiated a deal to use Mercedes-Benz engines for the 2009 season, but the German giant has put a deadline in place for the deal to be finalised. According to the BBC report it is expected that deadline could end within a week.
Since Honda announced their withdrawal from Formula One speculation has been fairly constant that buyers are on the lookout for a deal. There was a strong rumour in late December that Mexican telco billionaire Carlos Slim Helú was prepared to be Honda’s saviour, but that proved false.
Also in BBC’s report is speculation that three Honda Racing executives could partner with current team bosses Nick Fry and Ross Brawn to form a consortium prepared to bail out the team.
With the season approaching fast, and the F1-Team-formerly-known-as-Honda still needing to undertake much needed track and crash testing before they get to Melbourne, I guess we will find the answer to this story sooner rather than later.