World champion Fernando Alonso will race for McLaren in 2007 but for the moment he is still contracted to Renault, something that McLaren is hoping will change in the near future. The Woking team has asked Renault to release the Spaniard early as they want to get him in the silver car cockpit before the end of this year.
Testing is currently on track at Jerez and McLaren only has one more chance to get Alonso behind the wheel before Christmas. "We'd like him in the car as quickly as we can," McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh told reporters at Woking.
"After this week there's one more test and we'd like Renault to recognise everything that he's done for them and release him to come and test for us next week. We have requested it and if they said yes, we could do it."
Alonso has already had a seat fitting for McLaren and Whitmarsh said if Renault managing director Flavio Briatore agreed to release him, McLaren would rush to get Alonso behind the wheel. "The earlier we can get Fernando in the car, the better," Whitmarsh added.
"We're not counting on it, but if the opportunity arose we'd love to do it. If they (Renault) say no again, then we'll respect it but we'll keep asking until there's no more chance."
Alonso's teammate next season will be GP2 champion Lewis Hamilton and Whitmarsh brushed off suggestions that former McLaren double champion Mika Hakkinen might act as a mentor to the youngster. "I don't think that Mika is a natural mentor, to be honest," he remarked.
"It would be very unusual, unless it's your son, that a successful racing driver has gone on to mentor someone else to emulate what he did. I can't imagine that it would actually be something that would motivate and excite him."
Meanwhile, Kimi Raikkonen, who departs McLaren as Alonso arrives, made an appearance at Jerez today to visit new team Ferrari. Like Alonso the Finn is still under contract and can't yet drive the scarlet car, but watched the track action and joined soon-to-be teammate Felipe Massa in a technical briefing.