Team staff at Honda's Brackley headquarters have been told to prepare for imminent winter tests in Spain and subsequently the beginning of the 2009 season in Australia.

Team staff at Honda's Brackley headquarters have been told to prepare for imminent winter tests in Spain and subsequently the beginning of the 2009 season in Australia.

"Everything's positive -- it's all going ahead. Contracts are agreed and signed. It's with the lawyers," a source at the team told BBC Sport.

It is almost certain that the last hope for Honda is the management buyout led by Ross Brawn, whose prospects seem to have taken a step forward since rumours emerged that Nick Fry might no longer be involved.

"We're carrying on as if we're going to Melbourne," the source continued.

A report in the Daily Mirror, meanwhile, said Honda's Tokyo board - already publicly unhappy with the seriousness of bids by third parties - has accepted the management buyout.

It is understood the 2009 car has been adapted to fit the Mercedes-Benz V8 engine, with only the green light now required to unlock a schedule of at least one test in Spain, and possibly a prior shakedown (probably at Silverstone, UK).

"There's no way we'd go to any test without an engine deal," the source explained. "If we're going to Jerez, it means it's a done deal."

In Barcelona this week for the inaugural Global Sports Forum, the Honda team's marketing boss David Butler told the Spanish newspaper Diario AS: "There is no news but we are working towards a positive resolution, and in this sense I think we can be fairly optimistic."

He also expressed frustration about the speculation surrounding the sale of the departing Honda Motor Co.'s team, noting that "there are many billionaires making comments in the media".

 

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