Following a weekend of speculation to the contrary, both Mexican businessman Carlos Slim and Ross Brawn have categorically denied that the Honda Formula 1 team has been bought.
Reports in La Stampa
had stated that Honda F1, which went to the wall earlier this month as a consequence of the global economic crisis, had been acquired by Slim, the owner of Mexican communications giant Telmex, with the intention of installing Jenson Button and Bruno Senna in as drivers.
However, Slim, who is considered to be the 'second richest man in the world', has denied the claims, describing them as 'lacking foundation' and being 'completely false'. Posting a statement on the Telmex website, Slim was adamant he wasn't even in talks to take on the team.
“The Telmex team informs that Carlos Slim Helu has not acquired, nor is in any negotiation for, the Honda Formula 1 team. All information related to this lacks foundation and is completely false.”
Slim's comments are reinforced by Honda team principal Ross Brawn, who told the Telegraph
that no deal has been signed and that the claims were 'pure speculation'.
"We would love it if it were true," he said, "but it's pure speculation from various members of the media. It's just been one of those rumours which has developed a life of its own."
Slim, whose Telmex company has a wide involvement in motorsport, particularly in the promotion of Mexican drivers such as Salvador Duran and Sergio Perez, was one of several parties thought to be interested in acquiring Honda.
Indeed, Slim's apparent reluctance to take on Honda would seem to return David Richards' Prodrive concern as the frontrunner to buy the team. However, Brawn adds that there has been considerable interest from a number of prospective buyers.
"There has been a huge amount of interest," he added. "It's now got to the stage where we need to filter out the serious from the not so serious. We're all hopeful that something will happen and we're anxious to turn up the wick again in the new year."
Meanwhile, Brawn has hinted that team could be on the grid for the 2009 season opener in Melbourne under the Honda banner after claiming that they have the funds and the means in place to do so.
"We haven't really lost anything yet as it has still only been a few weeks. Everything is in place although we have had to turn down various programmes.
"We have enough funding to get us through to Melbourne and we still have a competitive package."