No plan B for McLaren over Hamilton
McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh says the Woking-based squad doesn't have a plan B in place if Lewis Hamilton elected to leave at the end of the season.
Hamilton is out of contract at the end of the year but had been widely expected to put pen to paper on a new deal to remain with the team that has guided his career since he was still karting.
However, Hamilton's decision to share telemetry data on Twitter during the Belgian Grand Prix weekend and rumours linking him with Mercedes in the aftermath of the Spa race have led to increased speculation that he could move elsewhere for 2013.
Quoted by the Express however, Whitmarsh said he wasn't contemplating life at McLaren without Hamilton and that there was no plan B if he did decide to move on.
"I haven't given plan B any thought," he said. "We want Lewis to stay, and we want him to stay if he wants to stay. But in terms of when you are trying to win a Championship, I've a number of priorities.
"You divide your time, energy and focus on those things - one of them is making the car faster, better; another is dealing with all the operational issues to make sure you don't make mistakes, and the other is dealing with your own drivers. But rightly or wrongly I haven't spent a lot of energy on that (plan B) subject."
Whitmarsh admitted that he was aware of discussions that had taken place between Hamilton's management company XIX Entertainment and others, but insisted he would sit down with them himself soon to try and trash out a deal.
"I'm aware of quite a lot of things," he said. "It's a small paddock and they (XIX) have to be seen to do their due diligence, as you can imagine, so I'm not surprised.
"I have some knowledge, in fact, of what's been going on."
Despite Whitmarsh's comments, a number of drivers continue to be linked with Hamilton's seat, with former McLaren man Heikki Kovalainen the latest name to the added to the list of men mentioned as possible options.
Paul di Resta, who has now signed with the same management company as Button, is another name on the list with Button having been quoted as saying the Scot was 'someone he could work with'.
"We talked about that scenario, about having another driver in the Sports Partnership," he said of the decision of his management company to take di Resta onboard. "I completely trust Richard [Goddard] and James [Williamson] and everyone who is involved in the company. For me it is a great idea, it is great to have another driver involved. It had to be someone that I trusted but also thought was very talented and who I could work with... in a way."