Honda Motor is close to an agreement to sell its Formula One team in time for the new season later this month, a Japanese newspaper reported today. "Honda has been making the utmost efforts to avoid the worst case scenario of disbanding the team. Our company and our team will be able to make an announcement in the near future," the Yomiuri newspaper quoted a Honda official as saying. It did not name the likely buyer.
Honda will start preparations for the sale so that the team can carry out a test-run with its new car on Thursday, enabling it to take part in the 2009 world championship, the report said. A Honda spokesman declined to comment on the report, which said British driver Jenson Button and team principal Ross Brawn would stay on at the team. The Japanese automaker announced last December that it was exiting F1 as a result of the global economic downturn.
Reports last month said Honda's Formula One future could be secured by a management buyout with a pay cut for Button and 300 job losses. Honda has previously confirmed that it was talking to several bidders for the team, including British tycoon Richard Branson's Virgin Group, but said last week it was struggling to find a "serious" buyer. * AFP