Unlike the cars of 2014, McLaren have been very loud this season when it comes to drivers linked with the team. Another average season – so far – has done little to quash such noise, with current drivers Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen both driving for their place with the Woking squad.
Ron Dennis has made it plain that he wants another superstar name in his team, and with Japanese giants Honda on board for 2015 and beyond, they too will be expecting nothing but the best. That of course leaves Button and K-Mag both openly under threat; however the former’s previous tenure with Honda may well save his bacon over the inexperienced, yet impressive, Magnussen. Nonetheless, stranger things have happened – remember Perez’s ousting at the end of 2013?
Who’s been linked so far?
Fernando Alonso is where most fingers have been pointed, following Dennis’ comments that he would be open to work with the Spaniard once again, despite the pair’s chequered past. Hello, 2007 Hungarian Grand Prix.
With Alonso and Ferrari’s recent struggles, the driver’s ever-increasing age and obvious title credentials, as well as a hefty sum likely to be offered to Fernando by McLaren, stranger things sure have happened in the paddock *cough Lotterer cough*, and stranger things will.
Elsewhere, Williams’ Valtteri Bottas has had his name thrown into the silver hat, following his tremendous start to the season, and don’t forget Stoffel Vandoorne, whose successful debut season in GP2 is stacking up nicely alongside his reserve driver role for McLaren. The Finn and the Belgian are both stars in their own right, but with Dennis’ wishes for a ‘superstar’ driver to ignite his team’s dampened flame, Bottas is better positioned, should anything materialise.
McLaren is a team crippled by expectation from fans, sponsors, personnel and partners alike, with changes likely and probable in the quest to return to the top. Whitmarsh has gone, Perez was chopped, and we may well be on the cusp of some tectonic shifts in the driver market weighted on what happens at Woking in the coming weeks and months.