With continuing uncertainty over the Formula 1 driver line-up in 2009, Honda has admitted that, aside from former double world champion Fernando Alonso, it is also interested in Nick Heidfeld and Bruno Senna.
Whilst the Brackley-based outfit has made little secret of the fact that Alonso is firmly on top of its shopping list for next season – as the Spaniard indeed is for a number of teams – the feeling does not appear to be mutual, with most speculation now linking the 27-year-old to either remaining with Renault or else moving across to BMW, possibly in place of the under-fire Heidfeld.
That would leave the experienced German – who has struggled to get to grips with Bridgestone's 2008-spec Potenza tyres in qualifying, frequently leaving him with a mountain to climb come race day – a free agent, and Honda CEO Nick Fry confessed in an interview with spox.com
that the 31-year-old could be a potential target for the currently grossly underperforming Japanese concern.
“I've already spoken with Nick,” the Englishman revealed, “and more than just saying 'hello'.”
Whilst Jenson Button is understood to be fairly safe at Honda next year, the future of team-mate Rubens Barrichello – with 264 grand prix starts under his belt, the most experienced driver in F1 history – is less clear.
Fry went on to acknowledge that Senna, nephew of the late, great three-time F1 world champion Ayrton, 'has the name [and] has the genes' and is on the squad's radar for 2009, even if it is believed that team principal Ross Brawn would rather employ the Brazilian as a test-driver initially, a role the 24-year-old has previously stated he is not greatly interested in [see separate story – click here
Fry also suggested Alonso would be wise to spurn BMW's overtures, arguing: “Fernando found that McLaren is rigid, and BMW is even worse.”
Meanwhile, respected French sports daily newspaper L'Équipe
has claimed that the top flight's newest grand prix winners Scuderia Toro Rosso could have entered the running to snap up Alonso for next season, despite team co-owner Gerhard Berger acknowledging that the small Faenza-based minnows cannot compete with the financial incentives offered by rivals.
“Of course I am interested [in Alonso],” the Austrian ten-time grand prix winner is quoted as having stated, “but so is everybody else.”