As the guessing games continue over who is set to partner Lewis Hamilton at McLaren-Mercedes during the 2008 Formula 1 season, the driver believed to be most favoured by the British outfit has been strongly advised against making the move.

From the moment the Fernando Alonso-McLaren divorce was finalised, the paddock whispers had Nico Rosberg coming in to take his place. While those rumours refuse to go away, the young German's current employer Williams took the step of issuing what was to all intents and purposes a 'hands off' warning to McLaren, as the Grove-based squad seeks to protect the man who is arguably its number one asset.

Rosberg and Hamilton have raced against each other throughout the junior ranks, but Nico's father and manager - 1982 F1 world champion Keke Rosberg - has always gone to great efforts to keep his son out of the same team as Lewis. With the latter firmly ensconced at Woking and having seen off the challenge of a double world champion in his maiden campaign in the top flight, Michael Schumacher's manager Willi Weber argued a move to McLaren now could be akin to career suicide for 22-year-old Rosberg.

"McLaren could very quickly destroy his career," Weber told German daily newspaper Bild-Zeitung. "Hamilton is their number one, even if officially they will not say it."

The paper also claimed despite Sir Frank Williams' protestations that he has no intention of letting his young charge go, he may be yet persuaded to part company with Rosberg should McLaren boss Ron Dennis be willing to compensate him to the tune of at least $22 million.

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