Kovalainen, Rosberg and Sutil in running for ’08 McLaren drive

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Heikki Kovalainen, Renault, Interlagos, 2007 | Steven Tee / LAT PhotographicLewis Hamilton has named the three drivers he thinks is most likely to be offered the seat alongside him at McLaren next season.

Ashed who would drive alongside him next year Hamilton said: “[Nico] Rosberg, [Adrian] Sutil or [Heikki] Kovalainen. The most important thing is that he is a team player.”

The trio from Williams, Spyker and Renault respectively are, like Hamilton, relative newcomers to the sport, only one of which has more F1 experience than he does.

Heikki Kovalainen

Surely the top contender, Kovalainen would be Ron Dennis’s third Finnish driver in seven years, following Mika Hakkinen and Kimi Raikkonen.

Moreover, it would allow a straight swap with Renault for the outgoing Fernando Alonso.

But Renault boss (and Kovalainen’s manager) Flavio Briatore has indicated that Alonso would only be looking for a one-year contract with Renault, and would not want to face going into 2009 with neither Alonso nor Kovalainen

Both have beaten Renault incumbent Giancarlo Fisichella with little difficulty. Having said that, he does have the promising Nelson Piquet Jnr waiitng in the wings.

Nico Rosberg

Nico Rosberg, Williams-Toyota, Interlagos, 2007 | Andrew Ferraro / LAT PhotographicMcLaren has not had a German driver throughout its 13-year association with Mercedes-Benz, so there’s clearly no pressure from that side.

Rosberg impressed mightily in his second season of F1, however, and is a friend of Hamilton’s and a former team mate of his from when the pair were in karting.

But Rosberg might not be cheap to extract from his current surroundings – he is currently contracted to Williams and coveted by Toyota.

Adrian Sutil

Adrian Sutil, Spyker, Interlagos, 2007 | Spyker / EgmondAnother German, and perhaps a surprise to see mentioned in line with a McLaren drive after a rookie season that could be most charitably described as competent with occasional flashes of promise.

But Hamilton and Sutil were team mates in the F3 Euroseries two years ago when Hamilton decimated the opposition. A grateful Sutil could be counted upon not to rock the boat.

Photos: Steven Tee / LAT Photographic | Andrew Ferraro / LAT Photographic | Spyker / Egmond

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