September 6, 2014 / 10:34 AM / 4 years ago

McLaren to decide 2015 drivers before season ends

MONZA Italy (Reuters) - McLaren are in no rush to decide their 2015 Formula One driver lineup, and Jenson Button’s future, but will do so before the end of the season, group chairman Ron Dennis said on Saturday.

“When there is a decision to take we will take won’t be in the next few days and it won’t be at the end of the season, it will be something in between,” he told reporters at the Italian Grand Prix.

He indicated also that it could ultimately remain unchanged.

“We really respect both of them, they’re doing a great job,” said Dennis of 2009 world champion Button and Danish rookie Kevin Magnussen.

“The drivers’ role in the future is an open issue and will only be decided as and when we know where the market stands,” he said.

Button, 34, is out of contract at the end of the season but has said he wants to continue and is ‘very relaxed’ about the situation.

Dennis, speaking after announcing a sponsorship with Italian coffee company Segafredo Zanetti, reiterated that McLaren always had the best drivers available but stressed the key word was ‘available’.

“So the first thing you have to establish, before you have any process of selection - and that is not derogatory, detrimental or negative to your existing drivers - is who is available,” he added.

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and Red Bull’s quadruple champion Sebastian Vettel have both been spoken of as targets for McLaren, who are starting a new partnership with Honda next season.

Both drivers have said they are happy where they are but Dennis, who is remodeling the team after retaking control in January from the ousted Martin Whitmarsh, would not be drawn on them and indicated there might be other options.

Former McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton, the 2008 champion, is currently in his second year at Mercedes and battling German team mate Nico Rosberg for the title.

Talks on extending his three-year contract have been put on hold with some media speculation about his future starting to spread.

“No-one could have predicted the tension inside Mercedes-Benz...we can all imagine a range of scenarios that could see one of those drivers on the market by the end of the year,” said Dennis.

“That does not mean we would automatically reach for that driver, or any other driver, in preference to what we have.

“What it means is you are trying to understand what is available, and then you make a decision. And it could be that decision is not to change.”

McLaren have not won a race since 2012, when Hamilton and Button were team mates but Dennis said the team were in good shape and fighting back.

He said the Segafredo sponsorship was “the first announcement of many” and more partners will be introduced over the coming months.

“You will see as things unfold over the next few months, McLaren is going to be very much back in every aspect of Formula One,” he added.

“We have been making systematic and very structured forward progress. All of the people who have been joining McLaren or were going to join are now integrated into the organization,” declared Dennis.

“We are now a much more focused and dynamic organization can absolutely and categorically assure you that we are back.”

Editing by Amlan Chakraborty

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