McLaren on Wednesday shed little further light on one of the last major talking points of the 2014 ‘silly season’ — the British team’s drivers for next year.
On the face of it, the Woking based squad is heading towards simply re-signing Jenson Button and Sergio Perez. But it emerged recently that McLaren let the ‘options’ on the duo’s existing contracts expire, which triggered speculation alternatives like Felipe Massa or even Fernando Alonso might be considered. Until now, McLaren has been reluctant to comment, but Button said on Wednesday that he and McLaren will be “racing together in 2014”.
Indeed, it is believed a sticking point in the talks is 2015, and McLaren wanting certainty for the start of the Honda era, whilst Button might prefer to keep his options open. Jonathan Neale, McLaren’s managing director, did little to quell the speculation on Wednesday when he admitted “this is that time of year when everybody is talking to everybody”. But he also said during a Vodafone teleconference that McLaren is getting closer to an announcement about drivers in 2014. “It would be wrong for me to speculate but we will get to it pretty soon,” added Neale.
He also hinted that heading into 2014 with one driver pairing, and then changing tack for 2015, would not be a major problem. “More than anything else what you really want is talent and high performance,” said Neale. “We’ve shown in the past that we weren’t afraid to make the changes that we felt that we needed to in the team, whether it was inside the organisation or in the driver lineup, in order to get the job done.”
Another priority for McLaren is advancing the careers of its development drivers Kevin Magnussen and Stoffel Vandoorne, who while placed in different teams in the Formula Renault 3.5 series, are fighting it out for title spoils. “I’m sorry I can’t be specific,” said Neale, “but we would expect both those two in formula one in the not-too-distant future.”
Info: GMM, Image: McLaren