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Petrobras 'still interested' in F1 – but no Honda agreement

In the wake of the flurry of rumours flying around the Formula 1 paddock regarding Honda in recent days, Petrobras has issued a statement clarifying that it is still interested in remaining in the sport as a sponsor – but that it has no deal in place with Honda.

Crash.net understands that it was Petrobras' rebuttal of Honda F1 CEO Nick Fry's assertion that the Brazilian oil company was ready to come on-board as a backer to Bruno Senna that gave the parent company in Japan cold feet over his widely-expected management buy-out with team principal Ross Brawn and re-approach Virgin, the very first party to enquire about purchasing the team late last year [see separate story – click here].

It was reported on some motorsport websites earlier this week that Petrobras – which sponsored Williams from mid-1998 until the end of last season – had stated that it would not be willing to transfer its backing to Honda, which in 2008 notched up just 14 points in the top flight for a reputed £147 million investment. It is believed to have come to an agreement with the Brackley-based outfit prior to the manufacturer pulling the plug on its official involvement on 5 December.

It was reported that Petrobras had subsequently changed its mind over the deal because it had no interest in acting only as a commercial sponsor to a private team. In response to a request from Crash.net, however, a statement has been issued revealing the following:

'Petrobras clarifies that it is still interested in participating in Formula 1. However, the press has published some information regarding the company's performance in this racing category. Notwithstanding, these stories had no interviews with or statements made by the sports endorsement management or by any other company representative.

'The interest in partnering with a team remains, as long as it is possible to develop and provide high-quality and high-tech Petrobras fuels and lubricants.

'The purpose of Petrobras' motor sports programme is to seek to provide company consumers with benefits, using auto racing as a product development lab. In this performance line, on account of its ties with technological progress, Formula 1 has always had a singular role.

'Petrobras re-asserts the information contained in the press release it sent on 02/12, in which it denies the veracity of the rumours that have spread in the media regarding the former Honda team having hired driver Bruno Senna via an endorsement provided by Petrobras.

'The company clarifies it does not have an agreement signed with Honda, or with a future team yet to be formed, for the 2009 Formula 1 season. It also reiterates that pursuant to the guidelines set forth by the Petrobras Motor Sports Programme, it does not endorse individual drivers.'
by Russell Atkins

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