Ferrari consider Lewis Hamilton as 'potential driver'

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The Independent Online

Ferrari could look to sign McLaren rival Lewis Hamilton despite already having Fernando Alonso locked into a long-term deal.

Team principal Stefano Domenicali refused to rule out a move for Hamilton in the future despite the Briton's troubled partnership with Alonso in the past, because the Italian team principal considers Hamilton one of "the top three drivers of the moment."

"I consider him a potential driver for this team," Domenicali said from the Catalunya Circuit after opening practice for Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix.

Hamilton and Alonso partnered at McLaren in 2007 with the pair openly bickering over who was the team's No. 1 driver, which ultimately cost the British team the championship to Ferrari. Kimi Raikkonen beat the pair by a single point.

"Never say never in life, people can change," Domenicali said. "For sure Lewis is a strong driver and in the future who knows what can happen."

Alonso is signed until the end of 2016 while teammate Felipe Massa's deal runs until the end of 2012. Hamilton has spent his entire career with McLaren after being signed to its development program as a teenager.

Domenicali's comments put Massa's future in question as the Brazilian has struggled since returning from a life-threatening injury in 2010.

Domenicali later backpedaled over his Hamilton comments and attempted to bolster Massa's position.

"We have other priorities in our situation at the moment," Domenicali said. "Ferrari is very happy with its drivers."

Ferrari is third in the constructors' championship behind leader Red Bull and McLaren, while Alonso trails Vettel by 52 points after a season-best third-place finish at the Turkish GP. A race win is worth 25 points.

Ferrari struggled with its set-up on Friday as Red Bull again looked set to dominate Saturday qualifying for the fifth straight race after Mark Webber led practice on Friday.

When asked about the possibility of signing Webber, who is out of contract at the end of the season, Domenicali did not rule it out.

"I can say everyone's a possibility — I never say never to quick drivers," he said.