At the FIA’s awards ceremony on Friday, McLaren managing director Martin Whitmarsh will personally ask Renault’s Flavio Briatore to grant an early contract release for world champion Fernando Alonso.
Under the terms of the 25-year-old Spanish drivers’ contract with the French squad, he is presently unable to join McLaren until January 1, which means he has so far skipped the opening tests of the winter period in Barcelona and Jerez.
Whitmarsh told reporters at McLaren’s Woking factory on Wednesday: “We’d like Renault to recognise everything that he’s done for them and release (Alonso) to come and test for us next week.”
The last test before Christmas will also be held at Jerez, starting next Wednesday.
Alonso has already had a seat fitting for his new Mercedes-powered car, but Whitmarsh hinted that Briatore’s answer so far has been ‘no’.
But the British chief added: “If, after two bottles of champagne, Flavio agrees on Friday night then we’ll rush around to get him (Alonso) in the car next week.”
Meanwhile, at a McLaren media event on Wednesday, it also emerged that – a day earlier – McLaren’s new MP4-22 had become the first 2007-spec monocoque to pass the mandatory FIA crash tests.