Deep into a second consecutive bad season for the grandee team, the changes at McLaren have begun. The most noticeable sign of the restructuring process at the Woking based team in Hockenheim is that Jenson Button - whose own future in grey is also under review - is working with a new race engineer.
If Tom Stallard's name sounds familiar, it's because he won a silver medal rowing for Britain in the 2008 olympics. He replaces Dave Robson, who is heading for a factory-based job. "It's not about getting rid of people," Button insists, "it's moving people to better suited roles or making them feel refreshed. There are people who are being employed as well, because I think we need that."
The experienced British driver, however, hopes he is not involved in the McLaren reshuffles, as the team prepares for its works Honda era beginning next year. Among the highest profile names linked with Button's seat have been his former McLaren teammate, Lewis Hamilton, and another 2007 McLaren driver, Fernando Alonso.
According to the Hamilton rumour, the highly-rated Briton might not want to stay at Mercedes in 2015 if his newly re-signed and now highly paid teammate Nico Rosberg is wearing the number '1' on the silver car. Hamilton played a straight bat to the rumour at Hockenheim. "I'm very happy in the team and naturally I assume I'll sit down with the bosses," he said. "It's very difficult for me to see myself anywhere else but you never know what the future may hold," Hamilton added.
As for the Alonso rumour, the Spaniard is famous for being central to F1's customary 'silly season', particularly since he began to show signs of frustration with his continuing struggle to win a title wearing Ferrari red. Alonso was at Maranello last week for simulator tests, but perhaps he also sat down with Marco Mattiacci and Luca di Montezemolo to talk about the future.
"I talk to the president and Mattiacci every day," he said on Thursday. "There is no news in that regard. The same thing has always happened to me in July, probably since 2003. These questions about contracts, signings and extensions," said Alonso. "I haven't talked to any team, or anything of the sort. It's not the priority." (GMM)