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No talks with Alonso - McLaren

ESPN Staff
September 20, 2013 « Alonso and Kimi will be 'very, very strong' in 2014 - Webber | Turn 10 an improvement - Webber »
Martin Whitmarsh: "I think what I said yesterday is that any team would be interested" © Sutton Images

Martin Whitmarsh has denied McLaren is in negotiations with Fernando Alonso for next year, but admitted that the Ferrari driver would be of interest if he is on the market.

After Whitmarsh said McLaren would be open to an Alonso return on Thursday, speculation has linked the Spaniard to a move back to the team that he fell out with and left in 2007. However, Whitmarsh clarified his remarks during an interview with Sky Sports and confirmed no one from McLaren had been in talks with Alonso's management.

"I think what I said yesterday is that any team would be interested," Whitmarsh explained. "Fernando Alonso is an absolute class driver.

"But I think I also said, although it doesn't grab quite the same headlines, is that I suspect we will have the same driver line-up next year that we have now. I think I was asked a question and I asked it honestly.

"I think if any team principal was asked 'Would you like to have Fernando Alonso in one of the seats next year?' then the honest answer is going to be yes, isn't it? Whether we will or not is another matter."

Alonso raced for McLaren in 2007 alongside Lewis Hamilton and left at the end of the year after constant bickering with his team and the added pressure of the Spygate scandal. Alonso felt aggrieved that Hamilton, a rookie at the time, was given equal status at the team in his first year. However, Whitmarsh said the hard feelings between team and driver have mellowed since then.

"At the end of 2007 there was a lot of tension, but 2007 was a long time ago and a lot of things have changed since then. Fernando is doing an incredible job over at Ferrari and I think he has got a contract that keeps him there a little bit longer. But I was asked a question and I answered it. It's created a lot of speculation but it was an honest answer."

Both Jenson Button and Sergio Perez have made clear that they expect to stay at McLaren in 2014, with Button saying his deal is "done". Whitmarsh could only say that an announcement on both drivers would be made soon.

"It's not official but what they said is accurate. We haven't made our driver announcement, we will do that in due course, but I wouldn't contradict anything they have said."