Rubens Barrichello will extend his record as the most experienced Formula One driver in history this year, autosport.com has learned, after agreeing a deal to race for the soon-to-be-renamed Honda Racing outfit.
Although it is understood that a final contract has not yet been signed, high level sources close to the Brackley-based team have confirmed that the veteran Brazilian has been given the nod to line up alongside Jenson Button in 2009.
The team are awaiting the final green light from the Honda Motor Company for the imminent management buyout led by Ross Brawn and Nick Fry, and only when that happens will the 2009 deals be finalised.
It is suggested that the situation could be fully resolved by the end of this week, with the team expected to conduct a shakedown of their 2009 challenger in Britain on Friday before joining next week's final group test session at Barcelona in Spain.
"We expect to be able to make an announcement from the company and the team in the near future," the Yomiuri daily quoted a source at the company's Japan headquarters as saying.
"Honda has been making all possible efforts to avoid the worst option of having to disband the team."
Barrichello has started 267 Grands Prix in a career that stretches back to the start of the 1993 season.
Speaking to autosport.com at the end of last year, Barrichello said he was fired up to remain at the Honda Racing despite the uncertainty that had surrounded the team since December.
"I have unfinished business in F1," he said during a visit to England before Christmas to let the team know how keen he was to remain with them. "I am sure I can finish higher up, if not winning the championship. I really believe that is what I deserve.
"It would be a shame not to use the services of someone so eager to do it, plus with all the experience and the speed. It is the right time - and it comes with the willingness to do well.
"If you sign someone with the speed but whose time is over, they will set up the car differently and badly. You are 80 percent of the time going through corners, and you set up the car different compared to someone who comes and wants to go flat out.
"For me, I am still taking it flat - and sometimes this year in qualifying you have that little pimple on your skin saying 'just remember you are not a boy any more' after the corner. So it is still there very much."