Silly season is in full swing in Formula 1, where the current hot topic is McLaren’s interest in Fernando Alonso.
However, team principal Martin Whitmarsh—despite his admission that he would love to work with the Spaniard—confessed on Friday that Jenson Button and Sergio Perez will more-than-likely be his driver lineup for 2014.
Whitmarsh told Sky Sports, per Pete Gill:
I think most teams up and down this pit-lane would sign Fernando Alonso. He is a very talented driver.
I expect next year our driver lineup to stay the same. But we are open to anything and in the longer term he would be a great asset.
But I think Fernando is in control of his own destiny, but we will see.
Update, Friday September 20, 4:30 p.m.
Making things clearer still, Alonso has now distanced himself from the speculation, pledging his future to Ferrari.
According to Sky Sports News, the Spaniard will stay with the team until the end of 2016:
Fernando Alonso confirms he will stay at Ferrari for at least three more years #SSN— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) September 20, 2013
Sebastian Vettel, to some extent, should take the blame for the out-of-control rumours currently circling F1. His dominance has taken the interest out of racing, so media outlets are forced to find headlines elsewhere.
Kimi Raikkonen filled that role for a while but, after his switch to Ferrari was confirmed, the obvious next option was the future of Alonso.
For so long Alonso has been the undisputed No. 1 at the Scuderia, supported by the outgoing Felipe Massa. However, the introduction of Raikkonen challenges the Spaniard’s authority.
Alonso’s one previous season at McLaren—back in 2007—ended in a bitter split, but Whitmarsh’s admittance that he would love a reunion prompted several media outlines including BBC Sport to claim McLaren has made him a “primary target”.
McLaren want Fernando Alonso to join them for next season and have made the Ferrari driver their prime target: http://t.co/JnqAhowAG6— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) September 20, 2013
However, Whitmarsh’s candid comments were laced with honesty rather than intent.
Where will Fernando Alonso start next season?
Just as Brendan Rodgers would likely respond “yes” if asked whether Liverpool would like to sign Lionel Messi, Whitmarsh answered in the affirmative when asked if he would welcome the word’s second-best driver.
Whitmarsh said as much in his latest interview. But as Alonso has often said in the past, sometimes it's more about what draws headlines.