Jul.19 (GMM) Martin Whitmarsh has played down Lewis Hamilton's suggestion that a new deal for the 2008 world champion could be done and dusted by the end of the forthcoming August break.
Hamilton, whose current contract runs out this year, admitted recently "it would be nice to get something in place" for 2013 before the sport reconvenes from its summer slumber at Belgium's Spa at the beginning of September.
But McLaren team boss Whitmarsh told reporters on Wednesday: "I don't think we should put any timeframe on it.
"I think it's something that's got to be determined for both parties preferably before the end of the season."
Hamilton's plans have been the subject of intense speculation, but Mark Webber's re-signing at Red Bull has most F1 insiders convinced that McLaren is the Briton's best choice for 2013 and beyond.
But Whitmarsh played down suggestions McLaren's performance slump could change the situation.
"I think Lewis is more intelligent than that and I hope the same applies to the media," he said.
Asked if he thinks the two sides will eventually come to a deal, Whitmarsh answered: "I think we will."
Also during the team's regular Vodafone teleconference on Wednesday, Whitmarsh revealed that the MP4-27 will look visibly different at Hockenheim, following a poor outing at the British Grand Prix for McLaren.
"The sidepods from the front to the rear are quite different so you'll notice those and there are other bits and pieces that the sharper eyed will see," he said.
"And clearly there are some parts which are hidden to the naked eye."