McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh flew to Madrid this week in what has been described as an 'escalating attempt to sign Fernando Alonso'.

According to reports by British tabloid newspaper, The Daily Mail, in an article headlined: 'McLaren fly out to meet Alonso as pursuit of Ferrari driver hots up', "so seriously is Whitmarsh taking his pursuit of the Ferrari driver that he even missed the prestigious Autosport Awards dinner in London on Sunday night to make the flight to Spain the following morning".

Whitmarsh was in Madrid to attend the opening of the 'Alonso Collection', an exhibition dedicated to the two-time F1 world champion.

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A spokesperson for McLaren told the 'paper that he was there along with 'team principals of the four teams for which Fernando has driven in F1'.

"But it is understood that Whitmarsh - who, in fact, was not Alonso's team principal during his one, strife-torn year at McLaren - is keen to develop a channel of communication to Alonso with an eye on bringing in the Spaniard for the 2015 season," adds the report.

Speaking back in late September, Whitmarsh made no secret of his admiration for Alonso and the desirability of the 32-year-old.

"Let's be frank, people want to sign Fernando Alonso because he is one of the best motor racing drivers in the world at the moment," Whitmarsh told Sky Sports News. "He is an asset to any team."