F1 sponsor Santander has reportedly bought 40 per cent of the struggling Spanish team HRT.

Existing owner Jose Ramon Carabante said before Christmas that a new "major sponsor" for the 2011 would be announced "soon".

"It is one of the five most important companies in Spain," he said.

The Spanish motor21.com website claims the identity of the investing company is Santander, which already sponsors the Ferrari and McLaren teams.

The report said Carabante will remain the majority shareholder, citing sources who said the 40 per cent purchase by Emilio Botin-led Santander involves a "reasonable" amount of money.

2011 will be a "transition" season, during which negotiations will take place to replace the Cosworth engines with Ferrari ones in 2012 and beyond.

The Santander buy-in might also resurrect the broken relationship with car supplier Toyota Motorsport GmbH, and lead to a name change for 2011.

Motor21 also said that Pedro de la Rosa has returned to the frame as a potential HRT driver for next year, with a plan to announce the Santander deal and the main driver at the same time.