Honda set to shakedown new car at Silverstone

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    Honda set to shakedown new car at Silverstone

    Post by Ross on 26th February 2009, 11:55

    Honda plans Silverstone shakedown

    Honda Racing’s survival hopes appear to be growing after plans emerged for the team to test its 2009 car at Silverstone next week.

    Sources told British broadcaster ITV that the Brackley-based squad has put together arrangements to complete a shakedown of its latest car at the Northamptonshire venue ahead of further plans to make the Barcelona group test early next month.

    The team, which has been fighting for its future since its Japanese owner put it up for sale in early December, has sat out all of the pre-season track testing programme so far but has continued working on the car at its factory with Honda Japan continuing to fund the outfit.

    It remains unclear how close the team is to getting a new owner in place, with Honda Motor Company’s outgoing CEO Takeo Fukui telling a press conference in Tokyo only on Monday that it was still waiting for a “serious buyer” to come forward.

    But while the team itself remains silent on the latest rumours and no official announcement has been made, sources say that it is set to complete the shakedown at Silverstone next week.

    After announcing in December it was pulling out of F1 due to the impact of the global recession on its core road business, Honda has aimed to have a new owner in place for its team by March to avoid having the expensive task of closing down the Brackley operation.

    Long-time speculation had centred on a Nick Fry and Ross Brawn-led management buyout as the most likely option for a sale, before rumours surfaced that Richard Branson’s Virgin Group was mulling over entering the process earlier this month.

    However with the Virgin speculation now having subsided rumours have again linked the present management as the squad’s likely saviours.

    Should the team survive and make the first race of the new season in Australia on March 29, then Jenson Button has a contract in place to remain with the squad with Brazilians Bruno Senna and Rubens Barrichello set to fight over the other seat.

    Rising star Senna is believed to bring some commercial backing with him, with those funds likely to be used to boost the team’s budget should the management take over.

    Meanwhile, with the speculation about Honda’s future currently intensifying by the day fellow team Williams has backed its rival to be on the grid in Melbourne.

    Speaking to journalists at the team’s Grove HQ on Thursday, Williams CEO Adam Parr said Honda’s continuing factory work suggested it had a good chance of survival.

    “We think they’ll make it,” Parr said.

    “The fact that they are still making things means that Honda takes the proposals seriously.”


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