Ron Dennis says McLaren will always chase the best drivers available but concedes the team is “not in a position to do that at the moment”.
McLaren has yet to confirm either Jenson Button or Kevin Magnussen for 2015, with racing director Eric Boullier saying the team is looking to finalise a long-term driver strategy
. With McLaren hoping to attract Fernando Alonso back to the team
, Dennis was asked if he was happy with the current driver line-up having called on Button to “try harder” earlier in the season
, and he said there is little more the drivers can do with an uncompetitive car.
“Anyone who has actually seen the TV interview in question will know that there was an element of humour in what I said,” Dennis told the official Formula One website. “Having said that, did I also intend to give Jenson a bit of a wake-up call? Yes, I did. But I did it softly, not maliciously. Indeed, perhaps the efficacy of my strategy was confirmed by the fact that Jenson immediately reacted by achieving his best race result of the year.
“Anyway, to tackle the specificity of your question, yes, I'm satisfied with both Jenson and Kevin. They're both capable of winning Grands Prix in a competitive car - Jenson has proved that 15 times in his long Formula One career, and Kevin has already demonstrated abundant pace in his so-far-short Formula One career - but clearly we're not giving them a competitive car at the moment.
“Nonetheless, despite that, I want them to give their best - and, at the same time, be responsible enough to appreciate that McLaren will always make efforts to hire the best drivers available. If such opportunities arise, we'll appraise them; we always have and we always will. All great Formula One teams are the same in that regard. But we're not in a position to do that at the moment.”
But Dennis did admit that the delay in finalising McLaren's future driver line-up is a result of monitoring the potential futures of the likes of Alonso and Sebastian Vettel.
“As I say, we'll always look to employ the best drivers available - but they have to be available, don't they? Having said that, for the avoidance of doubt, Jenson and Kevin represent an excellent blend of capable experience and youthful promise, and we're very happy with both of them. The fact that we're keeping an eye on what a few other drivers are up to in no way contradicts that, because, as I say, if opportunities arise, we'll appraise them - we always have and we always will.”
When it was put to Dennis that any driver is available of a team wants them, he replied: “Well, that depends on whether you respect drivers' contracts or not, and I do.”