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McLaren targeted by rumours, but what's behind it?

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McLaren targeted by rumours, but what's behind it?
Oct 8, 2014, 6:23 PM

They say that things come in threes and today's rumour that Lewis Hamilton has signed for McLaren for 2015 is the third rumour in recent times whic...

They say that things come in threes and today's rumour that Lewis Hamilton has signed for McLaren for 2015 is the third rumour in recent times which the team has described as "baseless" and "without foundation".

It follows the suggestion that Ron Dennis is to be ousted and replaced by Gerhard Berger as Group CEO of McLaren, with the blessing of the shareholders, the Bahrainis and Mansoor Ojjeh and a story a few days ago that Canadian fashion tycoon Laurence Stroll is looking to buy some shares in the team.

So why is it happening?

It's hard to say, but there would appear to be some attempted destabilisation of McLaren going on at a delicate moment in their history. This is not uncommon in F1, but the pattern here is unusual.

McLaren are about to start a new relationship with Honda and they desperately need to get out of the technical rut they have now been in for two years, with not a sniff of a victory. Last year was very poor by their standards and led to the departure of Martin Whitmarsh as CEO, but this year is arguably more embarrassing as they have had the best power unit in the field and yet have been outclassed by Williams, who had their worst season in 2013 and yet have turned it around spectacularly this year.

While that is going on, the position of Dennis is in question as he has an option to buy shares from the Bahrainis by the end of 2014 but he needs to find fresh investment to do so. So far he hasn't managed to find it. What happens next if he does not find it is open to debate. Some say he may find the Bahrainis and Ojjeh replacing him, others say that if the option expires, they just negotiate a new one. Time will tell.

Stroll, meanwhile, is looking at investing some of his millions - from the flotations of the Tommy Hilfiger and Michael Kors fashion brands - in F1 and has been linked with Sauber, but that was denied. Stroll's son is a member of the Ferrari young driver academy and an up and coming racer.

Alonso Mattiacci

At the same time as all of the above, Fernando Alonso, who was double shuffled by Ferrari's move for Vettel last week, has been negotiating a contract with McLaren for some time. Some sources say that it is signed, others say it's not yet signed but it is close.

Honda is desperate to get Alonso, but there are some suggestions that he is looking for a short commitment to keep his options open should Lewis Hamilton leave Mercedes either next year or for 2016. To counter that, Mercedes chairman Niki Lauda has told one media outlet that Alonso has already signed for McLaren. The games continue.

There is certainly plenty of action on this dynamic behind the scenes at the moment. And in this feverish environment, we are seeing these rumours coming out.

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