Efforts behind the scenes to safeguard the future of Honda Racing remain on course, autosport.com has learned, despite Japanese bosses suggesting on Monday they can see no 'serious buyer' for the outfit.
A statement earlier this week from outgoing Honda CEO Takeo Fukui, following a board meeting in Japan, suggested that the Japanese car manufacturer was losing faith in being able to find someone to take over the running of the outfit.
"There are various offers for the team but we have not seen any serious buyer yet," Fukui said. "We find the sale process difficult."
However, despite those comments appearing to be a blow to Honda Racing's chances of preventing the team being shut down, high level sources have revealed that optimism remains high that the matter can be sorted soon.
A senior figure at the team said that despite Fukui's comments the situation was far from bleak, and in fact looked 'good'.
It is understood senior management made it clear from the start of negotiations that they only wanted to press ahead with an option that would safeguard as many jobs as possible at Brackley, and put the team in a position to fight for a top three spot in the world championship.
The most likely outcome from the current situation remains a management buyout, involving both team principal Ross Brawn and CEO Nick Fry. Sources suggest that rumours that the latter has been forced out are 'premature'.
The hopes of Brawn and Fry being able to put together a deal have been helped with engine supplier Mercedes-Benz believed to be willing to hang on as long as it can to finalise a supply deal for 2009.
Although there had been rumours that Honda had a Monday deadline to provide guarantees to Mercedes-Benz that they had the finances in place if a deal was going to happen, the German car maker is in fact doing all it can to help ensure a positive outcome for Honda.
As part of its determination to support F1 and help ensure a full grid of cars in Melbourne, it is understood that Mercedes-Benz will hold on as long as it can for a deal to be put in place.
Should a management buyout of Honda Racing go ahead, there is still a chance the team could get some pre-season testing done before the first race in Australia. The group tests take place at Jerez in Spain next week and at Barcelona later in March.