Hamilton eyes up trio as Renault seek Alonso

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The Independent Online

Lewis Hamilton is tipping one of three drivers to be his new team-mate at McLaren after the departure of Fernando Alonso, who was yesterday offered alifeline to return to Renault.

When asked who would be alongside him next season, Hamilton said: "[Nico] Rosberg, [Adrian] Sutil or [Heikki]Kovalainen. The most important thing is that he is a team player," added the Briton, whose superb first season in F1 led to him falling out with Alonso.

The double world champion left McLaren on Friday after agreeing a release from the last two years of his deal. Renault's chief, Flavio Briatore, said yesterday he has offered Alonso a deal to return to the team where he won the 2005 and 2006 titles.

The German national Rosberg, the son of Finland's 1982 world champion Keke, is under contract with Williams but is seen as the favourite to replace Alonso. He finished ninth in the 2007 drivers' championship, while Finland's Kovalainen was seventh, boosted by his second place in the Japanese GP.

Sutil, another German, is a friend of Hamilton's. He drove for F1 minnows Spyker in 2007 but is highly rated. Spyker were sold to the Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya in October and will become Force India F1 next season. Mallya said: "I am very happy with Adrian Sutil and I've told team boss Colin Kolles that we need to keep him."

McLaren are determined to pick the right man to partner Hamilton after he and Alonso's feuding could not help but contribute to the duo losingout in the drivers' title raceto Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonenby one point.

Meanwhile, in MotoGP,the 28-year-old Valentino Rossi broke three bones in his right hand yesterday and is unlikely to race in today's season-ending Valencia Grand Prix after a heavy crash in qualifying.