Ecclestone: Branson wants Honda deal

British businessman Richard Branson is keen on taking over the Honda Formula One team, according to the sport's commercial chief Bernie Ecclestone

Ecclestone: Branson wants Honda deal

After intense speculation about Branson's involvement in a late bid to buy the Brackley-based outfit, Ecclestone confirmed on Thursday night that he has contacted Branson's Virgin Group directly to discuss the deal.

Ecclestone said that as far as he was aware, Branson was pushing to try and get a takeover sorted - ahead of meetings in Japan this week to discuss the future of the team.

Speaking to international news agency Reuters, Ecclestone said: "I've spoken to Richard's people about it. He would love to do it.

"I'd like it very much. It would be super. We're working to try to make it happen."

It now appears that the Virgin Group bid is the only viable alternative to a management buyout being put together by team chiefs Nick Fry and Ross Brawn. Autosport.com understands that other potential bidders have been told the team do not wish to go ahead with their deals.

However, a final decision about the future of the team would rest on what parent company Honda decides to do - with the Japanese car manufacturer warning this morning that disbanding the outfit was still a possibility.

Ecclestone said it was now up to Honda to decide which path to follow, with a final decision expected early next week.

"I have no idea which way it will go. I wouldn't bet on it either way," said Ecclestone.

Branson's only previous involvement in F1 was through a minor sponsorship deal with Jordan back in 2002, using his Virgin Mobile company. Virgin Atlantic Japan have also been personal backers of Takuma Sato in recent years.

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