McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh insists that the team will not be taking a hasty decision to confirm its 2010 line-up, despite being heavily tipped to re-sign Kimi Raikkonen.
The Finn heads the list of drivers available for next season after being cast adrift by a Ferrari team desperate to sign Fernando Alonso, and has been linked to several others for next season, but McLaren remains the favourite to secure his signature for a second time.
Whitmarsh, however, insists that there is no rush to confirm his line-up, claiming that the 2007 world champion - a title won in Raikkonen's first year after leaving the Woking squad - is just one of a number of options open to McLaren, including retaining the current pairing of Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen.
"I don't think there's any pressure on the team at the moment," Whitmarsh told Reuters
from Suzuka, "We are not waiting for Kimi. There are a number of options that are available to us - Kimi is clearly available now and Heikki is very much a part of this team. There's a very good possibility that Heikki will be driving for the team again next year."
While Hamilton is tied to the team for at least one more season, Kovalainen's comparative lack of success has left his future less certain, although the Finn has been mentioned in connection to a return to Renault, possibly as the favoured team-mate of Robert Kubica, should the Pole wind up at Enstone.
"We don't have to make those decisions right now, and I think the right and courteous thing to our current drivers is to support them and see if we do a good job and get some results in these last few races," Whitmarsh concluded, "I don't sense that we need to make a decision in the next week, two weeks, three weeks - even beyond that."
Hamilton will start from the second row at Suzuka, while Kovalainen lines up eleventh after taking a penalty for changing his gearbox. Raikkonen, meanwhile, sits fifth on the grid.