Honda Racing chiefs are now in discussions with their parent company bosses in Tokyo about which of the 12 serious parties interested in buying the team they should progress talks with, autosport.com can reveal.
Although it was previously thought that there were only a handful of candidates who had expressed an interest in buying the team, Honda Racing's CEO Nick Fry has revealed that there has been a far greater number of parties who have come forward.
Speaking from the Cleaner Racing Conference at the Autosport International Show about the progress of talks, Fry told autosport.com: "It's looking very positive at the moment. We had, as you might expect, a huge amount of interest at the start - probably well in excess of 30 groups came to us.
"We have narrowed that down to something in the region of a dozen, and we're currently talking to Honda about what is the best bet for the future."
Fry said that the progress of talks so far had increased his optimism about a deal coming off - with him confessing that he did not share the initial complete confidence others had in Honda finding a buyer when news on their pullout was announced in December.
"Right at the start of this process Bernie Ecclestone said that he was 100 percent confident that we'd be on the grid in Melbourne, and I have to say that I wasn't quite so sure where his confidence came from.
"But as we've gone through this process, my confidence based on what we've seen has increased - maybe not to 100 percent, but it's pretty close. And it has been very gratifying.
"We are in a very unusual situation at the moment. This is not a situation like some of the smaller teams that have fallen by the wayside, which frankly had an entry on the grid but did not have much in the way of technology, or in the way of engineering substance.
"The one thing that we have benefited from, to a level which is difficult to exaggerate, is the amount of money, effort and skill that Honda have put into this.
"We've got a team that have benefited from 75 million pounds worth of capital investment in the last three years.
"They have probably got some of the best automotive and other technology in the country, if not the world, and it has got an immensely highly-skilled technical staff, obviously led by Ross [Brawn]. So there is a huge amount going for it."
He added: "I think this is really, and many of the potential owners have been kind enough to talk about it as, an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, to get something which does have the opportunity to do very well in the next couple of years. So far, so good.
"In this economic environment it is difficult, there is no doubt about it, and we've got to be careful that we look not just at 2009, which frankly is the least of our worries. It really is making sure that we have got a long-term future for the staff.
"Neither Ross nor I want to stand there and say that everything is fine if in one or two years' time we fall flat on our face again. So we are really looking towards a two, three, (even) five year plan for the team."