McLaren to replace Montoya before season end

UPDATE (GMM) McLaren's Martin Whitmarsh has calmed wild rumors that Juan Pablo Montoya could be replaced by test driver Pedro de la Rosa as quickly as next weekend's French grand prix.

''There is no reason for us to do that,'' the Mercedes-powered team's CEO was quoted as saying by Auto Motor Und Sport.

The speculation started doing the rounds last Sunday at Indianapolis, where – this time involving teammate Kimi Raikkonen – Colombian Montoya, 30, was in the middle of yet another shunt.

It is allied to paddock gossip that Montoya will not be retained by the Woking-based team beyond the end of the year, after a couple of seasons of disappointing form.

In the Spanish 'AS' publication, meanwhile, Whitmarsh was quoted as saying that Lewis Hamilton is still under consideration for the seat alongside Fernando Alonso.

''He deserves a seat in formula one next year,'' said the Englishman.

Spaniard de la Rosa, however, could also be an option, with Whitmarsh reportedly telling the publication: ''Pedro is a great driver who has more than enough ability to race, but he is also an extraordinary test driver.''

07/04/06 (GMM) Juan Pablo Montoya's nightmare season is plumbing new depths, with fresh rumors that his McLaren departure could be more imminent than expected.

Dr Dieter Zetsche, CEO of engine partner Mercedes' parent company DaimlerChrysler, said at Indianapolis last Sunday that the ideal driver line-up for 2007 is Fernando Alonso alongside Kimi Raikkonen.

Montoya, 30, then had his second first-lap smash in seven days, by taking out teammate Raikkonen, and – in the German press – had the finger of blame squarely pointed at him by Mercedes' formula one director Norbert Haug.

Making matters worse, 'AS' newspaper in Spain is presently running a rumor that Haug has implored team principal Ron Dennis to immediately sack the Colombian and replace him with Spanish test driver Pedro de la Rosa from the French grand prix.

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