November 18, 2014 / 7:53 PM / 3 years ago

McLaren delay driver announcement

LONDON (Reuters) - McLaren will not announce their 2015 driver lineup until December, they said on Tuesday.

McLaren Formula One driver Jenson Button of Britain speeds during the first Russian Grand Prix in Sochi October 12, 2014. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

The team had previously said they would make the announcement before the 19th and final race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

“In order to avoid distracting the race team from its primary objective...we have decided to defer our final deliberations relating to our 2015 driver lineup until a date no earlier than Monday December 1,” McLaren said in a statement.

The news is eagerly awaited, not least by fans of Britain’s 2009 champion Jenson Button who want to know whether Sunday’s race at Yas Marina is his last in Formula One.

McLaren are expected to sign double world champion Fernando Alonso from Ferrari, with quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel set to take the Spaniard’s place at Maranello after leaving Red Bull.

That will force McLaren to choose between Button, whose contract expires at the end of the season, and Danish rookie Kevin Magnussen.

“Selecting the optimal driver lineup for a Formula One team is clearly an important process and it is therefore one that requires precise and prolonged analysis,” McLaren said.

McLaren have not won a race since 2012 and are facing another blank this year, with Mercedes chasing a record 16th win in 19 races on Sunday after securing both titles.

The Woking team are switching from Mercedes to Honda power next year and ran the new engine on track for the first time last week.

“We have spent the past nine months comprehensively recruiting and restructuring within our design and engineering departments,” McLaren said.

“We are now only a few days away from formally commencing our exciting technical partnership with Honda and, subject to satisfactory final bench-testing, it is currently our intention to run our interim development car, the McLaren MP4-29H/1X1, on the test days that will follow the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.”

Editing by Tony Jimenez

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