Ex-Honda F1 team to race as Brawn GP

TOKYO -- Honda reached an agreement to pass the ownership of its Formula One team to Ross Brawn.

The former Honda team principal assumed control of Brawn GP immediately, and confirmed Jenson Button and Rubens Barichello as its drivers for 2009.

Honda will take part in preseason tests in Spain at Barcelona and Jerez before the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on March 29, where the grid will feature 20 cars.

The new F1 team also confirmed that it would be using McLaren Mercedes engines after securing a partnership.

Financial details of the buyout were not revealed. Honda had one of the highest budgets in F1 last year at $283 million.

"We are very pleased that we could sell the team to Ross Brawn, with whom we have been partaking in the challenges of F1 competition, and are grateful for his decision," said Hiroshi Oshima, managing officer of the Japanese auto manufacturer. "We offer our sincerest wishes for the new team which will be led by Ross."

Barichello earned the nod to partner Button for the fourth straight year over GP2 racer Bruno Senna, nephew of three-time world champion Ayrton Senna.

Brawn also said that F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone and the Formula One Teams Association had played a big supporting role in helping secure the deal. F1 was introducing major regulation changes this season in a bid to cut costs amid the global economic downturn.

"The journey ahead will be challenging but exciting and we know we can count on their continued enthusiasm for our team and its ambitions," Brawn said.