Honda uncertain on F1 buyout

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The Independent Online

Honda has warned that a disbanding of its Formula One team remains a possibility as negotiations continue with potential buyers.

The Japanese manufacturer announced its withdrawal from F1 in December amid the global economic slowdown and has since fielded interest from potential buyers in the team based in Brackley, England, without any firm announcements.

Reports from London this week said British tycoon Richard Branson's Virgin Group was a possible purchaser.

"It's true that we are pursuing several potential buyers," Honda spokesman Hiroyuki Murase said Thursday, declining to name interested parties. "But the team may still have to be disbanded if the negotiations fail."

Honda, which did well as an engine supplier in the sport in the 1980s, could not continue that success when it became a stand-alone team after buying out BAR Racing in 2005.

Japanese team Super Aguri, which was supported by Honda, also pulled out of F1 in the 2008 season.

England's Jenson Button and rookie Bruno Senna, nephew of three-time former champion Ayrton Senna, were considered the likely drivers should a buy-out occur in time to have the team ready for the 2009 season opener in Australia on 29 March.

The team would also need to find an engine supplier, with Mercedes considered the most likely candidate.