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Honda 'optimistic' on race future

Honda continue to work on their race car for the 2009 season
Honda continue to work on their race car for the 2009 season

Honda's Formula One team have played down talk of an end-of-month deadline for their survival and insist they are preparing for the new season.

The Japanese team maintain they are hopeful of being ready for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in March.

"Don't focus too much on speculation regarding time frames and deadlines," said a team spokeswoman.

"Work on our race car is progressing well. We're optimistic but may not be able to say more for some time."

Honda shocked Formula One last month when it announced it was pulling out of the sport because of the global economic downturn that has ravaged the carmaker's sales and slashed profits.

The fate of the team has become the big question hanging over Formula One, with the clock ticking towards the first race in Melbourne on 29 March and the possibility of there being only nine teams, with 18 drivers on the starting grid.

606: DEBATE

But rumours within F1 suggest a deal may already have been struck to sell the team and allow it to race this season, and that it is awaiting final sign-off from the Honda board in Japan.

Although the team have had talks with Ferrari about a customer engine supply, BBC Sport understands they would not be using the Italian manufacturer's engines.

Mercedes is said by some sources to be the most likely engine supplier.

Chief executive Nick Fry said this month that Honda had narrowed their options down to a shortlist of about 12 serious purchasers for the team.

McLaren's partners Mercedes has said it is willing to provide engines to whoever buys the team.

However Honda team principal Ross Brawn has recognised that it will take six weeks' work to modify the car to accommodate a different engine.

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see also
Billionaire Slim denies Honda bid
29 Dec 08 |  Formula One
Cost-cutting plan agreed for F1
10 Dec 08 |  Formula One
Williams committed to F1 future
08 Dec 08 |  Formula One
Big teams pledge to remain in F1
06 Dec 08 |  Formula One
Honda boss upbeat over team sale
05 Dec 08 |  Formula One
Global crisis ends Honda F1 era
05 Dec 08 |  Formula One
Mosley wants action to 'save' F1
07 Oct 08 |  Formula One
F1 teams agree cost-cutting deal
21 Oct 08 |  Formula One


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