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McLaren coy over driver negotiations

ESPN Staff
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McLaren has refused to confirm who will be driving for the team next year © Getty Images
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McLaren is staying quiet over its 2014 driver line-up, refusing to comment on the delay in taking up options on the contracts of Jenson Button and Sergio Perez.

At the Belgian Grand Prix Button confirmed he has not yet taken up his contract option for next year but has also made clear he is keen to stay on at McLaren, at least for 2014. Sergio Perez is also keen to stay and team principal Martin Whitmarsh has said they both "deserve" to continue in their positions next year.

However, when asked what the hold up was during the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in, McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale remained coy on the subject.

"We don't comment on the rumour mill over drivers until such time that we are ready to make an announcement," he said. "I can't tell you when but it won't be too much further from now that I hope we will be able to clarify what's going on. When we do you [the media] will be the first to know that.

"At the moment we are focused on our preparations for this weekend [in Singapore], making sure that we get every bit of learning out of this season and prepare well for next year. That is our top priority at the moment, not to say our drivers are our second priority, but when we have something to say we will let you know."

Asked if McLaren has explored other options, Neale said: "This is that time of year when everybody is talking to everybody and there are technical staff moving around as well as drivers. It would be wrong for me to speculate, but we will get to it pretty soon and you will be the first to know."

In 2015 McLaren will switch to Honda engines, but when asked if the team was seeking to tie its drivers in to ensure some level of consistency during a period of change, Neale said McLaren was simply after the most competitive package possible.

"More than anything else what you really want is talent and high performance," he added. "We've shown in the past that we weren't afraid to make the changes that we felt that we needed to in the team, whether it was inside the organisation or in the driver line-up, in order to get the job done.

"We're really excited about the return of Honda and we are working really hard behind the scenes to make that successful. But we are also really looking forward to what we hope will be a very competitive powertrain from Mercedes in 2014 and our focus and preparation for next year. "

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