Following months of secrecy and speculation, David Richards has given the best indication yet that his fledgling Prodrive Formula 1 team will be competing with customer McLaren cars in 2008.

Although perhaps not so much of a surprise given the rumours that have surrounded the team since it won the coveted 12th entry to the Formula 1 grid, Richards has remained silent on most matters regarding their future, raising speculation that either the deal had fallen through or that they wouldn't even make the grid in 2008.

Nonetheless, the former principal of BAR told The Times newspaper that a deal is just potentially days away from being finalised and that they will definitely be on the grid next year.

"McLaren is one of three possible options for us, but they are closest," he said. "We will not be able to make an announcement until next month but talks are progressing very well and we will be on the Formula One grid in 2008."

The rumours surrounding the Prodrive and McLaren link have been rife for months with the deal set to see the team running this year's MP4-22 next year, complete with Mercedes engines.

Although they are set to experience stern competition from the likes of Williams and Spyker, who have protested the use of customer cars, the team is expected to get the go-ahead from the FIA.

Drivers for the team are expected to be announced in due course, but currently McLaren test drivers Pedro de la Rosa and Gary Paffett remain favourites for the two seats.

According to the article too, sponsors that were unable to get onto the Vodafone and Santander-labelled McLaren car this year are thought to be keen to switch their alligience to Prodrive, suggesting the team are further forward in their plans than many have expected.

An announcement concerning cars, drivers and sponsors is due in September.

 

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