Both David Richards and Trevor Carlin have played down speculation linking them to a possible purchase of Honda's Formula 1 outfit, after it emerged that the pair - in consortium with Dubai Investment Capital - are the leading contenders to take over the moribund team [see separate story - click here].

Honda Japan has granted until January for the Brackley-based concern to be sold, or else have its doors closed for good - and its 800 employees left out of work. As a man who ran the team in its erstwhile guise of BAR-Honda from 2002 to 2004 - with considerable success, securing the runner-up spot in the constructors' title chase to runaway champions Ferrari in his final season at the helm - and one whose independent Prodrive operation came close to entering the top flight in its own right as a customer cause this year, it is perhaps understandable that Richards' name has cropped up again.

Prodrive also run the Subaru World Rally Team, Aston Martin's Le Mans 24 Hours sportscar programme and Ford Performance Racing's V8 challenge in Australia, and 40 per cent of the outfit is owned and controlled by The Investment Dar company in Kuwait, which last year also helped Richards to acquire luxury British marque Aston Martin from then parent company Ford.

The 56-year-old, however, is adamant that he is keeping a very open mind about any possible buy-out of Honda, which had the largest operating budget of any team on the grand prix grid in 2008 for a meagre return of just 14 points and the last spot but one in the final constructors' standings. The squad has been put on the market for a nominal fee of just $1, with Honda Japan vowing to take care of all outstanding debts.

"I'm not rushing in blindly and saying absolutely this is something I've got to do," former Benetton team principal Richards told international news agency Reuters. "I want to know all the facts first of all. I want to know the exact lie of the land before I commit myself to anything.

"It's not about buying it. It's all very well going along and making the commitment to buy it, because I don't think that will be too onerous.

"The real issue is to make sure that you have the resources and the wherewithal to sustain it for the foreseeable future."

Carlin Motorsport - which currently competes in World Series by Renault, A1GP, F3 Euroseries, British F3, Eurocup Formula Renault and Formula Renault UK - also denied that it had any plans to get involved in a consortium bid to purchase Honda 'at the moment'.

The multiple championship-winning, Surrey-based outfit similarly unsuccessfully applied for a slot on the 2008 F1 grid, and its British F3 squad is currently testing at Albacete in Spain, hoping to get more running under its belt than was possible in the icy conditions that afflicted the series' group outing at Silverstone last week.

"Neither Trevor [Carlin] nor Martin [Stone] have had any discussions about buying or running the Honda F1 team," a spokesperson told Crash.net.