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McLaren says Paffett free to find drive elsewhere McLaren have promised test driver Gary Paffett that they will not hold him back from joining another team next year if his current discussions with rival outfits are successful, autosport.com has learned. Paffett is in talks with several teams about both race and test deals for 2007, as he contemplates how best to move his career forwards. And although McLaren would be unhappy to lose the Briton after promoting him to a full-time test role this year, the team have said they will not stand in his way if he pulls off a deal to go elsewhere.
Speaking to autosport.com, Paffett said he was happy that McLaren were willing to accommodate his demands - and has not ruled out remaining on board for another season. His comments come after reports suggesting his McLaren deal had been terminated. "I am definitely still involved with McLaren," said Paffett. "I am still working with them and we've had a great relationship over the past year. Obviously if it does end and I go elsewhere, then it will be sad for the both of us. "But they are being good to me and have given me quite a lot of freedom to go and look for a race drive. They know my passion is to want to race in F1. "Although the McLaren race seat is still up for grabs next year and is not completely out of the question, it is looking more and more unlikely that I will get that seat. So, they have given us a certain amount of freedom to look elsewhere."
Paffett has been most strongly linked with the chance of a race drive at Spyker MF1 next year, but it appears that that job will go to Tiago Monteiro. He has also been linked with testing roles at Honda Racing, BMW-Sauber and either of the Red Bull teams. "The talks are going okay," added Paffett. "There is a lot of interest and we've had a really good year with McLaren. I first tested with them in 2000, so to get a full-time drive with them this year was great. "But we are looking at our options now, and what is viable. Spyker are seriously interested, but obviously the case there could be that they need a lot of money.
"My managers Mark (Blundell) and Martin (Brundle) are doing their best to see what is available. We are looking for possibilities for future progress. We are not looking for just a one-year thing." Brundle told Autosport last week that there were plenty of options available for them for 2007. "Gary's very keen to race and there are a number of drives still available," he said. "People would be surprised who we are talking to." Autosport
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