Nick Fry, the CEO of the Honda Racing F1 Team, says he is hopeful that a buyer will be found to ensure the team lines up on the grid for the start of the 2009 Formula One season.
Honda bosses in Japan announced early this morning [Friday] that the Japanese manufacturer was to withdraw from the sport, blaming the current economic climate for the decision to put its F1 team up for sale.
Should no buyer be found, then the Brackley-based outfit would be forced to close down but Fry told BBC Radio Five Live
that there had already been serious interest shown in the team and work was going on 'as usual' at the factory as the search for a buyer goes on.
"We've only had a short amount of time but in the last twelve hours we've had three serious people come to us to suggest they would like to buy the team, so we are still hoping to be there in Melbourne," he said. "We have 700 people working for the team and at the moment it is business as usual. Obviously we have to go through the normal three-month consultation period with the staff to decide the future of the company and during that period we are very much hoping to find a buyer."
Fry admitted that he felt the team would be an attractive option for potential buyers, with state-of-the-art facilities already in place and the 2009 car – designed under the watchful eye of Ross Brawn – expected to be a significant improvement on the RA108 it is due to replace.
"The price is for discussion, but this is a completely different situation from prior Formula One teams stopping," he said. "This team is one of the best funded, it has the best assets, the best resources in the pitlane with a fantastic group of people and a car obviously designed by Ross Brawn, who has won many world championship, that is ready to go next year. I think we are a quite a desirable asset for somebody.
"This year we have been developing the Ross Brawn designed 2009 car and we are very hopeful that this team is going big step upwards so it's a good opportunity for someone."
In terms of drivers, Fry said he was hopeful that Jenson Button – who was still under contract – would remain if a buyer could be found, although the second seat was currently vacant, with Bruno Senna and Lucas di Grassi both having tested for Honda during the recent Barcelona test.
"Jenson has a contract with the team and if we can find new owners then we are hopeful he will continue with the rest of them," he said.
"He has been very much an integral part of the team for a good few years now and he is a fantastic driver and a big asset to the team, which will hopefully make the team even more attractive. The second driver position is undecided as yet."