McLaren group chairman Ron Dennis expects Lewis Hamilton to remain with the team next season - and has warned Hamilton the decision is theirs to make.
The 2008 world champion's contract runs out at the end of the current season, with talks ongoing over a new deal.
Both Hamilton and team-mate Jenson Button were among the historic seven different winners in the first seven races of this season but Hamilton is only fifth in the drivers' standings, 62 points behind leader Fernando Alonso.
Button is seventh, while the team are 70 points behind leaders Red Bull in third place in the constructors' standings. Their drivers have been hampered by an often uncompetitive car, particularly in the wet conditions in which both have thrived in the past.
But Dennis told several national newspapers: "There's no reason Lewis won't be driving our cars in the future.
"I think people get the wrong impression though. When I last looked at the contract, I was paying him. It's a question of whether we employ him, not the other way around.
"But if things pan out the way I expect them to, I'm pretty sure he will be sat in a McLaren next year."
Hamilton refused to be drawn on the issue, stressing that he is answerable to current team principal Martin Whitmarsh.
Dennis stepped down from that role, and from hands-on involvement with the F1 operation, in 2009 after the team were fined £50million over allegations that technical data was stolen from Ferrari two years previously.
Hamilton said: "I don't even know what Ron has been saying so I don't know what questions he has been asked.
"It's not really for me to comment on. It has nothing to do with me particularly what he says. Martin is my boss.
"I'm relaxed. At some stage we'll talk."