McLaren have not ruled out the possibility that the British rookie Lewis Hamilton could make his grand prix debut in Brazil later this month. The 21-year-old GP2 champion's career has been steered since he was 13 by the McLaren principal, Ron Dennis, who said that Hamilton will test a car in Jerez in Spain this week.
"Whether anything comes out of that to change our current thinking about the Brazilian GP, time will tell," Dennis said. "We are not viewing that test as an evaluation of his driving abilities. It's a chance for him to gain more mileage at a different type of circuit and for us learn things that are important with regard to doing an event.
"I have to stress that he's not going to Jerez to demonstrate to us that he has the ability to race. He's going there to test. He's not going to be pushed, running on light fuel or anything like that. He will run for a test and there are all sorts of things that are relevant - his ability to change settings on the car without dropping pace - all the things you have to know how to do if you're going to have the opportunity to race. How to function behind the safety car, how to manage a fuel stop, how to bring the tyres in ... all sorts of things," Dennis outlined. "We'll discuss it and think it through, but there is no massive upside to him racing in Brazil."
Dennis went on to explain why there is more to it than sitting in a racing car and going as fast as you can. "You have to change the settings without thinking about it," he said. "You have to make sure in and out laps are completely on the pace, you need to be able to identify problems and recognise default settings that interrupt the smooth running of the car but aren't going to affect it in any way.
"I can tell you one thing categorically: if Lewis was given the opportunity to race in Brazil and again in Australia next March, he'd almost definitely go better in Melbourne - not because of driving, just through having put in test mileage and having come to terms with many parameters of a grand prix car that go beyond simply driving it.
"There is always going to be expectation, but this is a hero to zero sport. Why put him at that risk? The guy's had a brilliant career so far. His commitment and attitude don't just relate to driving a racing car. He's a very complete, rounded individual. All sorts of pressures will come to bear on him and I'd like to see him as equipped as he could be," Dennis added.
Hamilton insists that he is ready for the challenge.