Norbert Haug has confirmed that Nico Rosberg is 'a candidate' for a McLaren-Mercedes drive in Formula 1 in 2010 - admitting that the team is in talks with the young German, even if he acknowledges that the Williams star is a much-coveted hot property in the top flight for next year.

Rosberg's future has been the subject of much speculation within the F1 paddock of late, with Williams understandably keen to keep hold of its prize asset - the driver who has scored all of the Oxfordshire-based outfit's 25.5 points so far this season - for a fifth consecutive campaign, but other teams widely-held to be eager to poach him away from the former multiple world champions.

Chief amongst those suitors, it is believed, is McLaren, who previously made overtures with regard to securing the 24-year-old's services back at the end of 2007 to replace the unexpectedly departing Fernando Alonso, only to find its bid sternly rebuffed by both Williams and Rosberg's father, 1982 F1 World Champion Keke Rosberg. Now, it seems, it may be a different story.

"Nico is an option," Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Vice-President Haug is quoted as having said by The Associated Press. "He is a candidate with whom we are talking. Clearly, a driver like Rosberg is on the list of many teams, including ours."

Should the inaugural GP2 Series Champion indeed jump ship to Woking, he would take the place of Heikki Kovalainen, who it has been rumoured could move in the opposite direction to Grove. For now, though, he insists, he is keeping his focus fixed firmly on the job in-hand, the upcoming Italian Grand Prix at Monza - albeit a weekend for which he does not have the highest of expectations.

"I have quite a few Italian friends and some of them are coming to the race," he revealed," and for sure, [Monza] is in the top five tracks in the world. In terms of our prospects, of course the drag levels are similar to Spa and we had a tough time there, so there is a bit of a question mark, but I know they have been working hard at the factory - since the end of first practice in Belgium in fact!"

"You can't help but notice the passion," added Williams team-mate Kazuki Nakajima of F1's traditional reception in Italy. "That's what makes it different. It will be a really good weekend; it always is and I can safely say that I return home having been well fed!

"It's a track that stands out all on its own, exciting and challenging to drive. Although it is low-drag like Spa, the circuit has suited our car mechanically in the past few years, so I am pretty hopeful we will go better than in Belgium."

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