Prodrive is set to announce its formula one chassis and engine supplier some time in September, team boss David Richards has said. British newspaper The Times, meanwhile, claims that the expected link-up with McLaren and Mercedes-Benz could be just "days away".

"McLaren is one of three possible options for us, but they are closest," Richards, formerly Benetton and BAR-Honda boss and now owner of Aston Martin, said. He added: "We will not be able to make an announcement until next month but talks are progressing very well and we will be on the formula one grid in 2008."

The Times added that the McLaren 'B' team route for Prodrive will allow it to compete in the sport with an annual budget of just (US) $60 million, compared with the annual $400m and $500m spent every year by big teams such as Ferrari, Toyota, and McLaren itself. Prodrive may also be supported in 2008 by sponsors that missed out on spots on the McLaren livery this year, the newspaper said.

The Times' F1 correspondent Kevin Eason wrote: "Final legal issues are thought to stand in the way before McLaren can start supplying Richards." The issues probably relate to the fact that F1's customer car regulations for 2008 are still in dispute.

"But those loopholes are expected to be cleared quickly," Eason said. (GMM)