Flavio Briatore has dismissed speculation suggesting that Fernando Alonso could replace Nico Rosberg at Mercedes for the 2017 Formula 1 season.
Briatore previously managed Alonso and remains a close friend of the Spaniard, who currently races for McLaren.
Rosberg announced just five days after winning his maiden F1 title that he would be retiring from racing with immediate effect, freeing up the most coveted seat on the grid.
Alonso is known to be desperate for a third world championship, having not claimed a title since 2006, leading to speculation that he could push for a move to Mercedes for 2017.
Mercedes F1 chief Toto Wolff said that Alonso was a driver that officials at the German marque “have to consider”, but was quick to acknowledge the contract in place with McLaren.
Briatore has become the latest figure to dismiss the idea, also making light of the fact that Alonso is linked to every free seat of note in F1.
“How is it that whenever there is a seat, you always think of Fernando?” Briatore told Italian publication La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“But there is a contract and we respect it.”
Alonso broke out of his Ferrari deal early at the end of 2014 to move to McLaren, but Briatore insisted that this was due to an escape clause in his contract.
“The situation was different. We had a pact with [Ferrari president Luca] di Montezemolo,” Briatore said.
“If we didn’t win the championship in 2014, we would be free, and Luca kept that promise.
“[Ferrari team principal Marco] Mattiacci offered a three-year renewal, but we refused.”