No no.1 even with superstar lineup – McLaren

(GMM) McLaren are refusing to directly confirm that Kimi Raikkonen is set to return in 2010, but team members are dropping lots of hints.

With it all but certain that Fernando Alonso is headed to Ferrari next year, it is believed that Finn Raikkonen's lawyers are in the final stages of negotiating a multi million euro exit from his contract so that he can become Lewis Hamilton's next teammate.

Team chiefs Martin Whitmarsh and Norbert Haug did not specifically mention the possibility in Singapore, but it was clear what they were talking about.

"McLaren has never had the philosophy of specifying a number one," Whitmarsh said. "We want to have the best available drivers in our cars."

However, in 2007 when Hamilton was pitted alongside Fernando Alonso, the team's policy of employing strong drivers with absolute equality can often lead to tension.

It is also a concern that, as Hamilton and Alonso fought two years ago, they both narrowly lost the world championship — ironically to Raikkonen.

"Managing drivers is what it is all about and we are capable of doing that," said Haug, McLaren equity partner Mercedes' motor racing director.

Meanwhile, the latest rumor in F1 circles is that Williams will reunite with its 2005 driver Nick Heidfeld next year to be the rookie Nico Hulkenberg's teammate.

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