Both McLaren and Nico Rosberg have attempted to play down speculation that they will link up next season, after the German was again suggested as a potential team-mate for Lewis Hamilton.

The rumours resurfaced on the eve of Rosberg's home event at Hockenheim, when Michael Schumacher's manager, Willi Weber, claimed that the German would be a free agent if, as it appears, Williams fails to cement a top four constructors' championship finish. According to Weber, the inaugural GP2 champion would replace the man he beat to that title, Heikki Kovalainen, alongside former karting team-mate Hamilton as McLaren re-opens a pursuit that was among the hottest topics of 2007's 'silly season'.

The Woking team, however, moved swiftly to counter the suggestion - which appeared in Germany's Sport Bild newspaper - as it sought to take some of the blame for Kovalainen's disappointing start to the season.

"We can confirm that we have not had any contact with Nico Rosberg, or with his management, about him driving for us in 2009," CEO Martin Whitmarsh insisted.

Rosberg began the season with a bang by claiming his maiden podium in Melbourne - to the shared delight of race winner Hamilton - but has seen his campaign peter out since then as Williams failed to produce a regular point-scorer in the FW30. Kovalainen, meanwhile, has been a more regular feature in the top eight during races, but has not always been able to capitalise on McLaren's superior performance due to a run of misfortune that has dogged the first half of his debut season with the team.

"Sometimes it takes a while and then, probably, some very good results come in a row," Mercedes' Norbert Haug told the media at Hockenheim, "He should have scored more points, but they were mostly not his mistakes - it wasn't his fault in Barcelona, it wasn't his fault in Turkey - you can name a lot of races where he should have scored more points but that is how it is. I still think he is in a very strong position and it can turn around tomorrow, or the day after."

Rosberg, meanwhile, dodged the question during Thursday's official pre-weekend press conference.

"I'm sorry, I don't want to comment on things like that at all," he said, no doubt mindful that he signed a lengthy contract extension while the 2007 rumours will still in full swing.

"[Hockenheim] testing went pretty well. I was second and third on the two days. I am sure we ran less fuel than the top runners but, compared to other people, we definitely did better here, so I am looking forward to a good weekend."

 

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