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Page last updated at 07:26 GMT, Monday, 29 December 2008

Billionaire Slim denies Honda bid

Carlos Slim
Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim is one of the world's richest men

Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim has denied he is in talks about a rescue bid for the Honda Formula One team.

Slim, who owns telecommunications firm Telmex and a racing team, was reported to be one of four interested parties.

But a statement said: "The Telmex Team can confirm that Carlos Slim Helu has not bought the Honda F1 team nor is holding any negotiations to do so.

"Therefore all information related to this subject has no basis and is completely false."

After the Honda motor company pulled out of F1 earlier this month, blaming the world economic crisis, the team are trying to find a buyer to continue in the sport.

It's just been one of those rumours which has developed a life of its own

Honda team principal Ross Brawn
Bruno Senna, the nephew of former triple Formula One world champion Ayrton Senna, is sponsored by Embratel, part of Slim's Telmex group.

Italian reports suggested Senna would be paired with Britain's Jenson Button for 2009, leaving Button's 2008 team-mate Rubens Barrichello, of Brazil, without a drive for the new season.

But Honda team principal Ross Brawn backed up Slim's denial. "We would love it if it were true but it's pure speculation from various members of the media," Brawn told the Daily Telegraph.

"It's just been one of those rumours which has developed a life of its own."

However, Brawn insisted talks are progressing with other parties and revealed the team could stay in business through to the season opener in Melbourne at the end of March.

"There has been a huge amount of interest," he added. "It's now got to the stage where we need to filter out the serious from the not so serious.

"We're all hopeful that something will happen and we're anxious to turn up the wick again in the new year.

"We haven't really lost anything yet as it has still only been a few weeks. Everything is in place although we have had to turn down various programmes.

"We have enough funding to get us through to Melbourne and we still have a competitive package."

Rubens Barrichello at the Brazilian Grand Prix
Honda team created in 2006 after BAR team was taken over
Finished fourth in 2006 constructors' championship with 86 points, but struggled to eighth in 2007 (six points) and ninth in 2008 (14 points)
Team costs Honda 300m annually with more than 800 staff at Brackley
Honda ran F1 cars with minimal advertising, meaning more funding had to come from Japanese parent company
English driver Jenson Button could lose his place in the sport if the team were to fold

A deadline of January has been set to find an investor to fund a team that was costing 300m a year to run for Honda.

If no buyer is found, Honda's decision to quit will leave F1 with just 18 cars on the grid next season.

Honda's F1 team endured a deeply disappointing 2008 season on the track, earning just 14 points to leave them the lowest of the nine points-scoring teams.

Button was ranked 18th in the drivers' standings, contributing only three points. Only four drivers, each without a point to their name, ranked below him.

Barrichello earned Honda's remaining 11 points - more than half of them from a third place in the wet British Grand Prix.

The 2009 Formula One season begins on 29 March in Australia.

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see also
Honda to quit Formula One
05 Dec 08 |  Motorsport
Harsh reality catches up with F1
05 Dec 08 |  Formula One
Button hopeful over Honda future
08 Dec 08 |  Formula One
Honda boss upbeat over team sale
05 Dec 08 |  Formula One
Honda's F1 years
05 Dec 08 |  Formula One
Others may follow Honda - Mosley
05 Dec 08 |  Formula One
UK Honda staff facing redundancy
05 Dec 08 |  Northamptonshire
New car sales fall by one-third
04 Dec 08 |  Business
Japanese juggling act for jobs
04 Dec 08 |  Wiltshire
Alonso in quit threat over rules
02 Dec 08 |  Motorsport
F1 teams agree cost-cutting deal
21 Oct 08 |  Formula One
F1 teams to reduce engine costs
09 Nov 08 |  Formula One
Manufacturer team 'could quit F1'
09 Oct 08 |  Formula One
Hamilton surges to British GP win
06 Jul 08 |  Formula One
US carmakers publish rescue plans
03 Dec 08 |  Business
Car makers bid to save the industry
02 Dec 08 |  World News America
Honda plans to reduce workforce
01 Dec 08 |  Wiltshire
Japan carmakers slash production
21 Nov 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Europe car sales in steep decline
14 Nov 08 |  Business

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