Drivers and teams yet to finalise their plans for 2008 got a rather ominous warning from McLaren principal Ron Dennis after he said talks about Fernando Alonso's whereabouts next year will not begin until the season has finished.

A number of the parties are anticipating Alonso's announcement, one that is expected to kick start a flurry of activity in the driver market, particularly if the double World Champion proves to be up for grabs, or if he leaves a lucrative vacant seat at McLaren.

Alonso and McLaren's frosty relationship has been widely publicised in recent weeks as more details about the goings on behind the scenes in the spying scandal come to light.

Indeed, Dennis has already claimed himself and Alonso are not on speaking terms, while the Spaniard is also thought to have fallen out with team-mate Lewis Hamilton in light of the impressive debut season that has threatened the number one status Alonso was looking to assume.

However, despite the cool situation at McLaren, Alonso has already hinted that he has no desire to switch teams, something that is contrary to recent reports that have placed him at both Renault and Ferrari.

Nonetheless, Dennis insists he has no plans to start discussing the formalities of Alonso's contract - which does includes a 2008 deal unless he is bought out of it - until the title has been decided next month.

"Both of our drivers have contracts that are valid for several years and we are focused on the next three races," he told Reuters at the Japanese Grand Prix in Fuji. "If there are any changes in those contractual relationships, they will only be discussed after the last grand prix.

"There is at this stage nobody engaged in any dialogue whatsoever. What you are looking at is speculation and people who want to contribute to any process that destabilises the team or de-focuses the drivers."

Alonso's movements are set to have major ramifications on the remainder of the field, with Renault in particular putting off revealing their driver line-up in the hope they could lure back the driver that took them to the 2005 and 2006 World titles.

Furthermore, big-spending Toyota fancy their chances of securing the Spaniard, although should Alonso make the shock - but increasingly reported - switch to Ferrari, Felipe Massa would be expected to end up at the Japanese manufacturer. Williams is another team waiting for Alonso, largely because many predict Nico Rosberg would be his successor at McLaren, although they are looking more likely to keep the German as this scenario plays out over a lengthy period of time.

Dennis has no intention of rushing into anything though and is not feeling obligated to act in the interests of other teams.

"I've got a clear objective at the moment and nothing will deviate away from that, which is to focus on the balance of this year's season and races and then turn our attention to next year," he said.

"All the issues of relationships and who said what and did what is immaterial...I'm not going to waste any of my energy on it and nor is any other member of the team. We've got a competitive tension within the team and what would you expect? But that's where it ends."

 

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