The clock is ticking on Honda's attempt to sell off its Formula One operation in Brackley, and so far, only the obvious candidates have shown any interest. Which is to say David Richards, formerly of the same parish (when it was known as BAR), other F1 teams (Force India mainly) and the Koreans (well, Hyundai-Kia, at least).
On paper, they're all plausible enough candidates. DR has reportedly spent much of the last week in the Middle East, trying to persuade the same backers who funded his Aston Martin deal to buy his way back into F1. Richards has a decent record in F1 and counts it as unfinished business, and he is said to command serious respect among the staff in Brackley. He doesn't have to worry about making the Subaru Impreza a rally winner any more, either.
Trouble is, while buying the operation may be cheap, the costs of running will not. And DR's backers may want a quicker return on their investment than can be offered by F1 at present.
Force India owner Vijay Mallya is less likely to be concerned about this; his interest is almost certainly fired by the prospect of using Honda's state-of-the-art facilities, which include one of the finest windtunnels in F1. But the Indian economy is not escaping the global cash crisis, and Mallya may ultimately decide to focus his energy on taking full advantage of what 'technology transfer' is allowed to make his Mercedes-powered 2009 challenger as competitive as possible. Better the devil you know, and all that.
Which leaves Hyundai-Kia. It's reportedly involved in a bid to bring F1 to Korea in 2010 or 2011, it's the world's fifth largest car manufacturer (but one without an obvious global motorsport programme) and it's probably finding it difficult to resist the idea of turning an abandoned Honda/Ross Brawn challenger into a winner.
At the same time, though, the firm has just slashed its sales forecasts by over 12 per cent (from 4.8 million vehicles to 4.2 million) and is freezing managers' pay. Which might make sinking at least £50m into Brackley appear a little insensitive.
Any of these three could still come good - and I hope one of them does, for the sake of over 600 staff (and many more in suppliers) in Brackley. But my money is still on a wildcard independent buyer, possibly from South America. Fernando Alonso's success has fired up enthusiasm in Spanish-speaking nations, and the idea of Jenson Button being partnered by an up-and-coming Mexican is as real as any of the other gossip.
Fingers crossed, anyway. As I said, the clock is ticking.