Martin Whitmarsh Q&A: McLaren boss open to rehiring Fernando Alonso
Team Principal confirms Button but casts doubt on Perez future
By William Esler
Last Updated: 20/09/13 2:12pm
Would you sign Fernando Alonso?
Martin Whitmarsh: "Yes, if I could - I think most teams up and down this pit-lane would happily sign Fernando Alonso, he is a very talented driver."
Would that be for next season? Have you had any talks with him or his management? Has he approached McLaren?
MW: "I expect next year our driver line-up is going to stay the same, but we are open to anything and I think in the longer term he would be a great asset. But Fernando is in charge of his own destiny, but we will see."
Is he more gettable at the moment because of the various noises that have been coming out of Ferrari?
MW: "I think it is wrong for me to comment on what is happening at Ferrari, but I think people were surprised by the recruitment of Kimi not because Kimi isn't massively talented and not because Kimi wouldn't want to go to Ferrari, and one can see that is an exciting driver line-up, but whether it is a sustainable driver line-up I don't know."
Is he a dream signing for anyone? He brings a lot of money via Santander so that side of things looks after itself to.
MW: "Let's be frank - people want to sign Fernando Alonso because he is one of the best motor-racing drivers in the world at the moment and would be an asset to any team."
What kind of percentage chance would you say there is of seeing Fernando Alonso back at McLaren one day?
MW: "I couldn't speculate on that. As I said earlier on, in all probability we will have the same driver line-up next year. There is a lot of excitement around these issues, but being realistic that is what I think will happen, but we will see."
You say in all probability, Jenson Button told us his "deal is done." How accurate is that?
MW: "That's accurate."
What about Sergio Perez then?
MW: "What Jenson has said is accurate. We will make an announcement when we are ready to make that announcement."
In terms of next year, we are looking at this Ferrari line-up that is very experienced, Mercedes have a top duo, has it been on your mind since these developments to get that level of experience at McLaren? Obviously Sergio Perez doesn't have that level of experience.
MW: "In fairness, we were just talking about Jenson. He is a World Champion, he has unprecedented experience and he is a great team player. We have a strong driver line-up, but what I was asked was 'would I hire Fernando Alonso?' and I honestly answered that question and said 'yes, as any team would'".
Looking ahead with the rule change next year and 2015 for you with Honda, is the end of next season a natural break point in many drivers' contracts, they'll want to see how the engines perform next year?
MW: "Well I think there is a lot of speculation and there is the prospect that next year's championship could be dominated by the performance of the powertrain. We are delighted to be in partnership with Mercedes next season, it will be our 20th year, and I believe they are going to do an excellent job, so we are looking forward to next season."
You have brought 2014 parts to the car this weekend - will they have a dividend here and in the final seven races or is it all for next year?
MW: "We are focussed on next year. Normally at this time of year we are competing for race wins and fighting for a championship and that perhaps distracts us from our efforts. But at the same time we have some new bits here, this is a difficult circuit where anything can happen so definitely we will be racing to see what we can get out of it on Sunday."