Toto Wolff has hinted Mercedes will be willing to pursue Fernando Alonso as a replacement for newly-retired world champion Nico Rosberg, but McLaren has indicated it isn't open to letting its star driver go.
As the shock of Rosberg's sudden exit from the sport subsides, attention has turned towards who could replace him in the triple title-winning Mercedes team.
Though Mercedes' options are hampered by every high-profile candidate being contracted for 2017 at this late stage in the year, a number of committed drivers have still been identified as potential options, with McLaren's Alonso amongst the prospects.
READ: Jost Capito outlines McLaren's biggest priority for the 2017 F1 season
The two-time world champion is about to start his third season of a three year contract with McLaren but is arguably top of Mercedes' wish-list if there is availability, with Wolff alluding to him as an option he wants to explore.
"You have to consider Fernando," he told Sky Sports F1
"He is a driver I respect a lot. He combines talent, speed and experience. It's all there.
"But he is in a contract with McLaren-Honda at the moment and we just need to weigh all the other options up.”
However, McLaren F1's new chairman Zak Brown has made it clear the team would put up a fight to block any attempt by Mercedes to poach the 2005 and 2006 world champion.
FEATURE: 10 Grand Prix events that should DEFINITELY be revived
"We have a contract with Fernando and he is very happy. Obviously he wants to be winning races, as do we, but I am not worried about that scenario."
Indeed, while McLaren has struggled for form since reviving its collaboration with Honda, Alonso has spoken of a desire to spearhead the project to success but the 2017 season could prove pivotal for his future in the sport if the team cannot capitalise on the upcoming change in regulations to make significant headway.
Should Mercedes succeed in luring Alonso to its team it would see him paired with Hamiton ten years after their infamously fractious time together at McLaren prompted the Spaniard to leave the team after one just one season.
As it stands, Pascal Wehrlein remains the favourite to succeed Rosberg at Mercedes, though the manufacturer has inferred it is concerned by his relative lack of experience relative to other potential options. As well as Alonso, Valtteri Bottas – whom is partially managed by Wolff – has also been identified as a target.
QUIZ: The 2016 season is over… but how much about it can you remember?
Latest Tweets from Crash.net & GPF1rst