McLaren confirmed Friday they are open to the shock return of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso in what would be one of Formula One's most sensational coups.
Team boss Martin Whitmarsh said he would love to sign the two-time world champion, who had an unhappy season at McLaren in 2007, and even suggested the Spaniard could arrive as early as next season.
"Yes, if I could," Whitmarsh told Britain's Sky Sports News, asked if he would bring back Alonso. "Most teams up and down the pitlane would happily sign Fernando Alonso, he's a very talented driver.
"I expect our driver line-up for next year to stay the same but we are open to anything and in the long term he would be a great asset.
"Fernando is in charge of his own destiny, but we'll see."
What started as a speculative rumour has gathered pace in Singapore after Whitmarsh and McLaren driver Jenson Button both sung the praises of Alonso, world champion in 2005 and 2006.
Alonso is reported to be unhappy at Ferrari's decision to hire another former world champion, Kimi Raikkonen, as his racing partner next season.
And McLaren are yet to confirm contracts for either of their drivers, Button and Mexico's Sergio Perez, for 2014, although the Briton says his deal for next year is a formality.
Whitmarsh said both drivers were likely to stay with McLaren next year but he said it was not impossible that Alonso could be racing with the British team.
"Let's be frank, people want to sign Fernando Alonso because he is one of the best motor-racing drivers in the world at the moment. He is an asset to any team," Whitmarsh told Sky.
"In all probability, we will have the same line-up next year. Being realistic that's what I think will happen, but we'll see."
Alonso earlier dismissed suggestions that he's unsettled by Raikkonen's arrival at Ferrari after the Italian team decided to part ways with the inconsistent Felipe Massa.
"I was always informed about the team movements. when they decided to change Felipe they asked my opinion and I told them Kimi was the best out there in the market," he said on Thursday.
Alonso had a difficult relationship with team-mate Lewis Hamilton at McLaren in 2007, a season which was also marked by the damaging "Spygate" scandal involving the leaking of technical information.