No McLaren 2017 driver decision until September at earliest

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McLaren CEO Ron Dennis has confirmed that the team will not discuss its driver line-up for the 2017 Formula 1 season until September at the very earliest.

Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button currently race for McLaren, but junior driver and 2015 GP2 champion Stoffel Vandoorne is waiting in the wings to step up to F1 full-time.

Vandoorne made his F1 debut in Bahrain in April, standing in for the injured Alonso and scoring a point by finishing 10th.

Alonso enters the final year of his three-year McLaren contract in 2017, but Button is without a firm deal for next season, putting him at risk of being replaced by Vandoorne.

Speaking to Sky Sports in the UK, Dennis said that McLaren would not discuss its 2017 line-up until after the Italian Grand Prix in September, and may wait even longer before making a final decision.

“We are not even going to talk about drivers until after Monza,” Dennis said.

“We will have a board meeting towards the end of September, which is a logical time to make a decision, but we might not even take one then.

“What we won’t do is hamper anyone’s career. At the moment we have a young and aspiring driver, two tremendous world champions, and as and when we have to talk about it we will take everything into consideration.

“But right now we are barely halfway through the season. The most inappropriate thing we could possibly do is start talking about decisions like that which impact on next year.

“It’s just too early.”