Whilst insisting that it remains 'optimistic' of still being on the Formula 1 grid for the 2009 curtain-raising Australian Grand Prix in just over two months' time, the former Honda outfit has admitted that no announcement is likely to be forthcoming anytime soon.
When the team's parent company in Japan announced back in December that it was withdrawing from top flight competition and putting its Brackley-based operation on the market with immediate effect as a result of falling car sales precipitated by the global credit crunch, it was rumoured that a deadline of the end of January had been set to either find a buyer – or else close its doors for good, leaving its 750-strong workforce seeking alternative employment.
Honda F1 CEO Nick Fry has claimed that there have been as many as twelve serious offers put on the table for the squad – including his own – and McLaren engine partner Mercedes-Benz has confirmed that it is willing to supply whoever does end up taking over the team with powerplants for the season ahead.
However, team principal Ross Brawn has admitted that it is likely to take as long as six weeks to modify the car to cater for a different engine – with only just over eight now remaining until Melbourne. Despite that, a spokesman told British newspaper The Guardian
there is no immediate cause for concern.
“Don't focus too much on any speculation regarding time frames and deadlines,” he stressed. “Work on our race car is progressing well.
“We're optimistic, but it may not be possible to comment further for some time.”
The continuing uncertainty over the team's fate has also left the future of former Hungarian Grand Prix winner Jenson Button up in the air. There have been suggestions that Scuderia Toro Rosso's ongoing delay in naming Sébastien Buemi's team-mate at the Red Bull 'junior' concern this year is a product of the Faenza-based outfit's interest in the British star, who worked closely with team principal Franz Tost during his rookie F1 campaign at Williams in 2000.
The Austrian is known to still rate Button in high regard, and a spokeswoman for the 29-year-old has confirmed that he is continuing to train as normal.