McLaren-Mercedes boss Ron Dennis has ruled out any chance of putting Lewis Hamilton into a race seat before the end of the season after almost confirming speculation that Pedro de la Rosa is likely to remain in the drive for the final four races of the year.

It had been hinted that the culmination of the GP2 Series, that Hamilton currently leads, at Monza would prompt Dennis to promote the youngster into a spot alongside Kimi Raikkonen in the final three overseas races, particularly as the team are now cemented as being third in the constructors' standings.

However, Dennis, who is also Hamilton's mentor, ended speculation by telling Reuters that they are not eager to put the 21-year-old into a race seat without having completed the necessary testing.

"We are not in the business of developing grand prix drivers, we are in the business of winning races," he said. "We will always put the best available drivers in the cars. The place to develop young drivers is not in the pressure of grand prix racing.

"For someone like Lewis we'd want thousands of kilometres of testing under his belt, we'd want to feel very comfortable that he fully understood all of the regulatory processes. We don't want to distract him from what he's doing at the moment."

Nonetheless, Hamilton remains one of the favourites to win a seat alongside Fernando Alonso in the team for 2007 whether he wins the GP2 Series or not, although much of McLaren-Mercedes' driver line-up still hinges on the decision of Raikkonen, who is reportedly, but not definitely, set to defect to Ferrari for next season.

"We'd love him (Hamilton) to win but he has nothing more to prove. It would be nice for him to win but I don't think it will influence the decision that we will take."

"Clearly there are decisions yet to be taken by other teams that have an influence on our own decisions. Not all the driver moves have taken place...and we're still very much in control of our own destiny."



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