McLaren expects Hamilton to stay put

Team principal Martin Whitmarsh said he remained confident Monday that former Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton will be a McLaren driver next season amid rumors the British racer is privately pursuing a move to championship rival Red Bull.

Hamilton, who has been regularly frustrated during a disappointing season, reportedly met with Red Bull team boss Christian Horner at the Canadian Grand Prix.

The 2008 champion quickly distanced himself from the speculation he was pushing to change teams.

And McLaren boss Whitmarsh said he was happy to accept his driver’s word over his future plans.

"Lewis loves this team, and he knows the car is capable of winning races," he told The Independent. "He’s sat with me in the last 10 days and explained his passion, enthusiasm and desire to remain part of this team. I’ve known him since he was 11. I don’t think he would look me in the eye and say that if he didn’t mean it."

McLaren, meanwhile, agreed a technical partnership with Virgin Racing as the 2010 newcomer strives to establish itself in F1.

The agreement will allow Virgin to us McLaren’s facilities, such as test rigs, simulator and wind tunnel.

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