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Ecclestone claims Honda snub

NEWS STORY
22/02/2009

Bernie Ecclestone claims that his offer of a 100m rescue package for the beleaguered Honda team has been snubbed by Nick Fry and Ross Brawn as the duo proceed with their plans for a management buy-out.

The claim is made in what the News of the World claims to be an exclusive interview with the F1 supremo, though some of the comments have been made previously elsewhere.

Ecclestone tells the tabloid that he offered 100m in an attempt to save the team and bring Bruno Senna into Formula One.

"I tried to help with the management buy-out. They should have taken what I offered. It was a very good offer for everybody concerned. It gave them complete protection but they wanted to do things on their own. Now all we can do is hope and pray!"

Only yesterday, Richard Branson ended hopes of Virgin buying the Brackley team - at least in the short-term - when he admitted that though he would be keen to enter F1 this could not happen until the sport had become more environmentally friendly and costs had been reduced to the point that it was possible to run a team and make a profit. The Englishman also expressed a desire to see Ecclestone continue running the sport.

Therefore, with no further news of the "dozen" bids Honda were looking at just a few weeks ago, the management buy-out appears to be the only solution, especially now that Ecclestone appears to have washed his hands of the team.

"I don't think anybody knows what is going to happen with Honda," said Ecclestone. "It is up to them to make up their bloody minds. But the team can go one of three ways. They either go with the management buy-out, sell to Richard Branson or they could simply just close down the whole thing down.

" The silly thing is we have got Bruno wanting to drive," he added." It would be fantastic for everybody to have the name Senna back in F1."

The jury is still out on Senna, nephew of the legendary Brazilian World Champion. While he clearly has talent, he failed to stamp his authority in GP2 last year, beating fellow Brazilian Lucas di Grassi to the runner-up spot by one point despite the fact di Grassi missed the first three rounds.

According to the News of the World, had Ecclestone's offer been accepted it would have given him a say in the Formula One Teams' Association, though it is still unclear how his involvement in a team whilst also running the sport would stand legally, with some claiming it would represent a clear conflict of interest. It would also have meant that Fry and Brawn each 'owned' around 17.5 percent of the team.

It is understood that Mercedes is fully prepared to provide engines for the team, with a source telling Pitpass that one unit has already been provided in order to have a complete car available, however, the German manufacturer needs proof that the Brackley team has a viable business plan and is able to pay for the engines.

Mercedes has set its deadline as has Honda Japan, which last week reiterated that if the worst comes to the worst the team will be disbanded. Both deadlines are due in the coming days.

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