Honda Racing may be willing to risk signing Fernando Alonso with only a short-term commitment as part of a renewed push to lure the Spaniard on board.
Autosport exclusively revealed in June that Alonso was Honda Racing's main target for 2009, but one of the stumbling blocks to a deal is the fact that the double world champion wants to keep his long-term options open as he eyes potential vacancies at Ferrari.
Alonso is believed to crave the chance to lead efforts at Ferrari, but his hopes of racing there do depend on the future of Kimi Raikkonen, whose current contract expires at the end of 2009.
The desire not to miss out on a 2010 chance has left Alonso unwilling to commit elsewhere for more than the next season - something few teams would be willing to do.
However, with Honda Racing believed to crave a big-name driver to make the most of a 2009 car that has been spearheaded by team principal Ross Brawn, high level sources within the team have revealed that they are now mulling over gambling on only a one or two year deal.
The hope is that the machinery produced will be enough to keep Alonso on board for longer than the initial single year. And the experience of Alonso at McLaren, where they parted company after one year despite a multi-season agreement, has taught the team that even long-term deals provide no security.
When asked by autosport.com if it was vital Alonso committed for more than one year, Brawn said: "I think any team would want to have a longer term deal - any driver for one year is difficult.
"But if you have one year and do well, then it becomes two years and three years. It depends how well you do. I am sure the McLaren deal was more than a one-year deal and that didn't last beyond a year."
Brawn would not comment on how far talks with Alonso had progressed, or make any predictions on the chances of a deal being put together.
"Fernando is one of the top drivers in F1," he said. "And I think every team apart from one in the pitlane would welcome him. We are no different, but whether it happens, who knows?"
Honda Racing are likely to keep Jenson Button on board for 2009 whatever happens, with Rubens Barrichello's future dependent on the success of the team's plans to capture Alonso.
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