Prodrive does not consider the purchase of Honda's defunct Formula 1 operation as a viable proposition 'at the moment' - that is the standpoint of David Richards as the embattled Brackley-based concern continues to search for a buyer before the start of the 2009 campaign.

Honda F1 CEO Nick Fry revealed yesterday that the outfit has received offers from as many as twelve interested parties [see separate story - click here], with team principal Ross Brawn having earlier remarked that now is the time to 'filter out the serious from the not-so-serious'.

Prodrive was the first company to be linked with a buy-out, almost immediately after Honda announced its intention to withdraw early last month. Its chairman Richards ran the team in its former guise of BAR-Honda from 2002 to 2004, and presided over what was comfortably the squad's finest season in the top flight with the runner-up spot to the all-conquering Ferrari in the constructors' title chase during his final year at the helm.

What's more, Prodrive was hotly-tipped to gain the eleventh spot on the F1 grid in 2008 before the customer car row scuppered its bid, but it is understood that the Banbury-based operation's latest attempt to secure its place has been torpedoed by a lack of willingness to fund the project by Richards' Middle Eastern backers.

"I've made it very clear that in the current environment and current circumstances I don't believe it's a viable proposition for us," the former World Rally Championship-winning co-driver told Radio.

Admitting to having been in discussions 'at one stage', Richards was however more elusive when asked whether the setback definitively spells the end of Prodrive's ambitions to gain control of Honda between now and the season curtain-raising Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on 29 March.

After a long pause that suggested it would be wise never to say never, he replied: "As I say, I'm not at this moment in time anticipating anything happening with that."

by Russell Atkins



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