Ferrari has confirmed that it would be willing to supply the currently defunct Honda team with engines for this season's Formula One campaign, following revelations that Ross Brawn was in talks with his former employer.
Although no buyer has yet been found for the Brackley outfit - which closed its doors shortly before Christmas - Brawn is optimistic that its future can be secured, and is hopeful that a link with current constructors' champion Ferrari will be an added carrot to interested parties.
The Prancing Horse has the capacity to supply a third team in 2009 after seeing Force India switch its allegiance to rival Mercedes at the end of last year, and 'Honda' would slot in alongside 2008 revelation Scuderia Toro Rosso on the Maranello customer list.
Brawn confirmed that he had been in touch with Ferrari about a potential engine supply on Tuesday, even though it had been widely believed that Honda would continue to make its own V8s available for 2009, albeit unbadged.
While Force India turned its back on the Scuderia for the coming season, Toro Rosso is set to continue its relationship, having finally reached the top step of the podium, with Sebastian Vettel at Monza, and Ferrari has admitted that it would be willing to help Brawn out should a buyer be found for what remains of the Honda operation.
"They have asked us if we are able to provide engines and we said yes," a spokesman for the Scuderia confirmed to Reuters
, "That's it, nothing more."
Any deal needs to be concluded swiftly if the team is to make the grid in Melbourne, despite the new F1 season not starting until the end of March. Ferrari has said that it would need several weeks' notice to build additional engines for any new relationship, while Brawn confirmed that converting Honda's stillborn 2009 to accept the Italian V8s would require a similar amount of time.
So far, however, there has only been speculation about potential rescue bids. Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim has refuted claims that he was poised to buy the team and Prodrive's David Richards only having been rumoured to have visited financial partners in the Middle East to discuss the matter. Brawn, though, insists that there has been more interest.