is racing towards confirming that Sergio Perez
will join Jenson Button
in the British team's driver lineup for a second consecutive season in 2014.
It was earlier rumoured that Nico Hulkenberg
, McLaren junior Kevin Magnussen
or even Fernando Alonso
could replace the Mexican, who only joined McLaren from Sauber
at the beginning of the year.
But Perez finished a season-best fifth in India last Sunday, and paddock whispers are growing louder that the 23-year-old has secured a new deal for 2014.
"When will we make our driver announcement? I expect we will be making it quite shortly," team boss Martin Whitmarsh told reporters in Abu Dhabi.
"I think Sergio did a great race last week and that's the sort of thing that we love to see," he added.
It could be that Perez's new deal will be shortly followed by news that a Mexican company like Claro will succeed the departing Vodafone as title sponsor.
However, there has also been speculation that a brand not linked directly to Perez, like the US razor company Gillette, has secured the deal for 2014 and beyond.
Whitmarsh on Sunday said the driver and sponsor announcements will be made separately.
"That will be beyond the end of the season," he said, when asked about the sponsor announcement, "because obviously we're respectful of the partnerships we have at the moment."