Ron Dennis has not ruled out the possibility of Fernando Alonso taking a year out of the sport in 2016 if the McLaren-Honda doesn't represent a significant improvement over the current car.
The Spaniard joined McLaren from Ferrari at the start of the year as part of a multi-million three-year deal, but has been hampered by persistent reliability and performance woes.
Though the man himself has maintained a relatively positive attitude and has repeatedly stated his confidence in the team going forward, with McLaren destined to end the 2015 season with its lowest finish in the constructors' standings since 1980, Dennis has hinted there is somewhat less harmony behind the scenes.
Speaking at a news conference at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Dennis admitted Alonso could push for a hiatus in 2016 with a view to returning in 2017 when a change in the technical regulations are expected to allow McLaren and Honda to make strides.
"I have an open mind to anything. Some of the ideas have involved those sorts of considerations - sabbatical years."
Even so, Dennis maintains all signs indicate a step forward in performance for the 2016 season and any decision is far from being made.
"We have a great number of driver options. We have two of the best drivers in the world in our cars. When we have to take the decision, we will take it together and at this moment in time our drivers of next year are Fernando and Jenson Button."
Should Alonso step down from his race drive, GP2 Series champion Stoffel Vandoorne is likely to step in to drive alongside Jenson Button.
Meanwhile, Alonso has expressed his surprise
at the comments, insisting it remains his intention to stay on the grid, adding that Dennis' words may need more clarification.