Flavio Briatore has ruled out a switch to Mercedes for Fernando Alonso, despite intense speculation linking him with the vacant seat.
Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff fuelled talk about the possibility of an Alonso move when he made it clear the two-time Formula 1 champion was being "considered" as a replacement for Nico Rosberg.
But Briatore, who has been a part of Alonso's management team since he came into F1, has insisted that his current contract with McLaren will be respected.
"Why is it that whenever a seat becomes available Fernando is always mentioned?" explained Briatore, in an interview with Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport.
"There is a contract and we will respect it."
Alonso is understood to have been one of the drivers who spoke to Wolff in the immediate aftermath of Rosberg's shock announcement last week that he was quitting F1.
However, it is believed that Mercedes opting for him was never likely to happen – not only because of the contractual situation but because of what happened in 2007 with a troubled relationship with Lewis Hamilton at McLaren and his involvement in the Spygate scandal when Mercedes was its technical partner.
Although Alonso has previously left a team early – after he quit Ferrari at the end of 2014 – Briatore says the circumstances were not the same and that it was done with the blessing of Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo.
"The situation was different and we had an agreement with di Montezemolo," said Briatore.
"If we didn't win the title in 2014, we would be free. Luca kept that promise. It's true that [team boss Marco] Mattiacci offered us a three-year renewal, but we refused."