It has been suggested by a source close to that talk of 2008 GP2 Series Vice-Champion Bruno Senna being all-but a shoe-in for the second seat at the former Honda outfit in Formula 1 this year are nothing more than 'a red herring' - and that Rubens Barrichello is still in pole position for the drive.

Though there is still no announcement as to whether the beleaguered Brackley-based concern will or will not be on the starting grid for the curtain-raising Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne in just over a month's time, should the cars indeed be present and correct, then it has long been anticipated that Senna will be the man lining up alongside current incumbent Jenson Button.

However, in recent days the name of Barrichello - a veteran of 267 grand prix starts, the most in F1 history - has returned to the frame, as claims that Senna would arrive with significant backing from Brazilian oil giant Petrobras were revealed to be untrue. Whilst only the latter has tested for the squad since the end of last season - impressing at Barcelona back in November - in the absence of solid funding behind him, his candidacy is said to be beginning to appear somewhat less attractive.

"My suspicion is that the whole Bruno Senna thing is just a red herring," our source confided. "He doesn't come with money attached to him, and there is no direct deal linking funds related to Bruno to the team he ends up at."

Acknowledging, however, that it is 'always useful to have a Brazilian driver because there are some very good sponsors in Brazil', our source added that he expected Barrichello to remain on-board because he is 'a safe pair of hands' and strong on set-up - a quality that cannot be under-estimated in a time of such technical and aerodynamic upheaval, particularly for a team that is likely to get precious little testing under its belt before the campaign gets underway.

Another of our sources has revealed that an announcement is imminent, but that not everything that is said should be believed. It is understood that any potential take-over by Richard Branson's Virgin Group has bitten the dust, and that with support from Honda in Japan, the deal that is going ahead is still the management buy-out - only now led by Ross Brawn, rather than Nick Fry.

The source added that staff at the Northants factory are 'almost in open revolt', and that Brawn has been feeding a constant stream of snippets of information to the media merely to keep his workforce quiet.

"We are assuming the [Adrian] Reynard/Branson thing is dead," was told. "They have said the last bidder has been rejected, and that Ross Brawn is now leading the management buy-out. Where that leaves Nick Fry's position with all the rumours coming out of the factory I don't know.

"If you look closely you will see that all the announcements now are coming from Ross, and he never normally says anything. Ross would now appear to be in charge, and Nick is out.

"A press release is expected to go out in the next two days saying something like ?120 million has been paid for the team, but that's all absolute bullsh*t.

"Brackley are planning to take the car down to Silverstone to shake it down; they are talking about Monday, but there's no engine yet. Mercedes will not release the engines until they have proof the funds are available, and if that's not done by the weekend then time will be running out.

"The new effective test team has been told that they are booked into Barcelona from 9-12 March and Jerez the week after, without even coming back to England in-between. Accommodation has been booked and they have been told to prepare for the test."



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