McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh on Friday denied that his team has made an actual approach to Fernando Alonso or his management about driving for them in 2014, but is adamant that he would sign the Spaniard if he could.
“No,” he told the British broadcaster Sky after Friday practice in Singapore.
“No,” said the Woking based team’s boss, when asked the clarified question again.
But that doesn’t mean there is no truth to the rampant paddock rumours about McLaren and 2015 engine supplier Honda wanting to field Jenson Button alongside fellow former world champion and current Ferrari driver Alonso.
Earlier, when asked if he would sign Alonso, Whitmarsh told the Daily Mail: “Yes, if I could.”
Whitmarsh is being guarded in his comments because the 32-year-old Alonso is tightly under contract to Ferrari for the next few years.
However the Spaniard did spend an ill-fated year with the Woking squad in 2007, which coincided with Hamilton’s first year with the team. Despite a very tense season Alonso did win four races for the team.
“I expect our driver lineup for next year to stay the same but we are open to anything and in the long term he would be a great asset,” he added on Friday. “Fernando is in charge of his own destiny, but we’ll see.”
Alonso, earlier linked with Red Bull until the world champions signed Daniel Ricciardo, is – despite his public comments – clearly unhappy that Ferrari has signed a driver of the calibre of Kimi Raikkonen for 2014.
Whitmarsh, insisting that Alonso’s acrimonious split with McLaren at the end of 2007 is now “a long time ago”, hinted at the Spaniard’s discontent at Ferrari.
“It’s wrong for me to comment on what’s going on in Ferrari but people were surprised with the recruitment of Kimi”, he said.
“Whether it is a sustainable lineup I don’t know,” Whitmarsh added. (GMM)