McLaren will not be making a driver announcement this weekend at Suzuka. With speculation about his future rife, Spain's Diario AS has claimed Fernando Alonso's situation at Ferrari is now "almost unbearable", and an announcement of a split could be the next item on the agenda.
The Spaniard is strongly linked with a return to his 2007 employer, McLaren, to spearhead the British team's new works partnership with Honda from 2015. Honda-owned Suzuka, the scene of this weekend's Japanese grand prix, would seem the ideal place for confirmation. But Yasuhisa Arai, Honda's F1 chief, played down the chances of an imminent announcement. "I don't think we will be discussing the topic of drivers given that nothing is decided," he told Britain's Sky.
Arai did, however, admit that talks with McLaren about the composition of next year's driver lineup are likely to take place behind the scenes this weekend. "We are constantly talking about which drivers we would like to see and whilst McLaren is here in Japan it is only natural that we organise some meetings with McLaren," he revealed.
It is believed the two most likely scenarios for 2015 are that McLaren will either field an unchanged lineup next year, or drop Kevin Magnussen and pair Alonso with fellow champion Jenson Button.
Briton Button, who previously drove for Honda's works team and is engaged to the Japanese model Jessica Michibata, said this week that McLaren needs experience at the wheel for the new era. "There are so many ways in which having a driver with experience can help you to find the right direction," he is quoted by Italy's Autosprint, adding that "understanding Japanese culture" will also be important for McLaren from 2015. (GMM)