McLaren eye Alonso return
McLaren are trying to line up a shock move for Fernando Alonso.
- Related Content
Six years after Alonso departed McLaren in acrimonious circumstances, team principal Martin Whitmarsh has revealed he would love to have the Spaniard back at Woking.
Whitmarsh is hoping to take advantage of Alonso's disaffection with Ferrari on a number of fronts at present, notably in the wake of the hiring of Kimi Raikkonen as his team-mate for next year.
In confirming indirect talks have taken place, Whitmarsh added: "Are we interested in Fernando? Yes. Any team would be. I'd be delighted to speak to him.
"Why is there an issue? A lot of observers don't believe the driver line-up Ferrari will have is potentially going to be sustainable. That's why people are speculating.
"So we're only stating the obvious, and that's why it's not such a revelation.
"Fernando is also under contract, but we're open to the opportunity, as we've proven in the past.
"No-one expected Jenson (Button) to come to us when he did. Bringing in JB was something I was delighted to do, so to bring in another top name would be fantastic.
"But in all probability, our driver line-up will remain unchanged next year, let's be honest about it, but you never know.
"Our two guys have worked hard and well through a difficult season, they deserve another go, so we'll see what happens."
Although Alonso has three years remaining on his Ferrari contract, worth around £20million per year, the suggestion is there are break clauses.
Coming to the end of his fourth year with Ferrari, Alonso has grown frustrated at the team's failure to assist him win his third world title.
There are also speculative rumblings Ferrari are struggling to adapt to the new powertrain regulations that come into force next season, and that is also making Alonso nervous.
Throw in the rare high-profile public condemnation Alonso faced from president Luca Di Montezemolo earlier this season after he dared to criticise the car, and the pieces of the puzzle start to fit.
Ferrari's decision to hire Raikkonen and get rid of Felipe Massa, who has long played a subservient role at Maranello, would appear to be the final straw for Alonso.
Accustomed to number one status and having Massa strategically aid his cause in grands prix, Alonso knows he would receive no assistance from Raikkonen who prefers to plough his own furrow.
McLaren found to their cost in 2007 the damaging effect of Alonso's demands as he sought number one status at that time as he and then rookie team-mate Lewis Hamilton went toe to toe for the title.
Threatening to divulge information relevant to the 'spygate' saga unless the team supported his cause, Alonso was ultimately shown the door.
It was a case that cost McLaren 100million US dollars in fines - around £50million at the time - and seemingly Alonso had burned his bridges with the team.
But despite that, Whitmarsh added: "That was 2007, I was there, and let's be honest it was fairly acrimonious at the end, a lot of passions raised.
"But we are in a different circumstance now, so from my perspective there is no impediment. Whether from Fernando, I hope not, I doubt it. We're perfectly cordial when we talk.
"He wants to win, he wants an environment around him that is based on winning, so we will see what happens with his current team."
Should Whitmarsh convince Alonso joining McLaren would represent the right move, the 32-year-old Spaniard would replace Sergio Perez and line up alongside Button who has signed for 2014 as the team have taken up the option on his contract for next year.
That is despite Perez's claim during the main FIA press conference on Thursday ahead of this weekend's Singapore Grand Prix his own deal is "pretty much done" bar "finalising the dots".
Behind the scenes at McLaren it is understood the team are willing to make a change as Perez has failed to impress this year since joining them from Sauber as replacement for Hamilton.
"He (Perez) has a tremendous benchmark in Jenson who is a consistent, great quality driver, a team player, and who brings a huge amount of other benefits to our team," said Whitmarsh.
"If you're a young charger like Sergio, he and I know he has to come in and beat him, and he hasn't done that consistently enough so far this year."
Asked as to a timeframe on any decision, Whitmarsh replied: "We'll know in the next few weeks about next year at least."