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De la Rosa likely to race rest of season

Spanish stand-in Pedro de la Rosa can expect to compete in the last four races of the Formula One season after Sunday's Turkish Grand Prix, McLaren team boss Ron Dennis said on Saturday.

"Definitely Monza and most likely the rest of the season," Dennis told reporters on Saturday when asked about De la Rosa's future.

The Spanish test driver was promoted to the race seat at the French Grand Prix in July after Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya's surprise announcement that he was moving to the U.S.-based NASCAR series next year.

Dennis's words appeared to rule out either Lewis Hamilton or Gary Paffett, the two young Britons hoping to race for the team next year, making their Formula One debuts this season.

Hamilton, 21, is leading the GP2 series, a feeder to Formula One, and many in the paddock expect him to join Spaniard Fernando Alonso in the McLaren line-up when the world champion moves from Renault at the end of the year.

Dennis has said in the past that he believes Hamilton, a McLaren protege for a decade, will be in Formula One next year but he made clear on Saturday that the team would not be accelerating his arrival.

"We are not in the business of developing Grand Prix drivers, we are in the business of winning races," he said when asked why McLaren did not give Hamilton a race, given that they are sure of third place in a championship they cannot win.

"We will always put the best available drivers in the cars. The place to develop young drivers is not in the pressure of Grand Prix racing," added Dennis.

"For someone like Lewis we'd want thousands of kilometres of testing under his belt, we'd want to feel very comfortable that he fully understood all of the regulatory processes. We don't want to distract him from what he's doing at the moment."

Dennis said that both he and Mercedes motorsport head Norbert Haug were keen to finalise their 2007 line-up before the end of December, with the new car likely to be launched in January.

McLaren want Kimi Raikkonen to stay with them next year but the paddock rumour mill is convinced that the Finn will be announced as a Ferrari driver at the Italian Grand Prix in two weeks' time.

"Clearly there are decisions yet to be taken by other teams that have an influence on our own decisions," said Dennis. "Not all the driver moves have taken place...and we're still very much in control of our own destiny."

Dennis said Hamilton's future would not depend on him winning the GP2 title.

"We'd love him to win but he has nothing more to prove," he said. "It would be nice for him to win but I don't think it will influence the decision that we will take."


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