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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Futures in the balance

Valencia, European Grand Prix preview

Of all those hit by Honda's departure from the sport, few are receiving the attention shown Jenson Button.

The 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix winner recently signed a contract extension with the team, but may find himself without an option for 2009.

Honda Racing has revealed it will reopen negotiations with Button to break his contract and allow him to move elsewhere if such an opportunity arises.

"We had a deal with Button and we are going to restart the talks to undo that contract," Autosport.com reports Honda chairman and CEO Takeo Fukui said.

Ross Brawn said while he hopes Button would stay with the team, he and Nick Fry were supportive of the Britain's situation.

"If Jenson gets an opportunity I am sure we will sit down and see what the situation here is and what the opportunity he has got," Autosport quotes Brawn. "Given that he is part of the team, I don't think he will rush off and make that decision without discussing it with us. We will keep an open dialogue. If we can keep him here we will be delighted but we also understand that it is very difficult for an F1 driver to miss a season - unlike engineers."

Toro Rosso is reported to have made an approach for Button, The Guardian reporting he has been invited to test with the team in Jerez.

Also caught in limbo are Rubens Barrichello and Bruno Senna, who had impressed in testing.

Meanwhile, the search moves forward on a buyer for the Brackley-based squad.

Sources report three parties expressed interest in the operation, and The Daily Telegraph is reporting Prodrive's David Richards may be in good position to make the deal.

Richards, of course, was brought in to run the team (in its BAR incarnation) in 2001, achieving second in the constructors championship in 2004. Prodrive's relationship with the team ended, however, when Honda took over.

Most recently he was behind the still-born Prodrive F1 effort, scuttled due to changes regulating customer cars.

One thing is certain, if the team does continue, it will be at a fraction of its current size.

A deal could be announced by the end of the weekend.

Formula 1's other manufacturer teams have gone on record to avow their commitment to the sport. Spokespersons for Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, BMW, Renault and Ferrari have all been quoted in the press assuring they are in it for the long haul, and are working toward cost-cutting measures. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


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