FUJI, Japan, Sep 30 (Reuters) Lewis Hamilton has said he does not think that he and Fernando Alonso can continue as McLaren team mates next year.
''No I don't,'' the championship-leading rookie told British newspaper reporters today at the Japanese Grand Prix, where he qualified on pole position.
''I mean, if the team wants to keep him they keep him but I'm here to stay as long as they want me,'' continued the 22-year-old.
''I don't know who else would slip in here, but I'd much rather it were Fernando in a Ferrari and me in a McLaren,'' added the Briton.
Hamilton was two points clear of the double world champion, who has been increasingly linked in the media to a return to Renault or move to Ferrari alongside Kimi Raikkonen, ahead of today's race at Fuji.
The youngster is on course to become the first rookie to win the championship and he said his extraordinary debut season had brought home to him even more that he wanted a long-term contract with McLaren.
REALLY HAPPY ''This season has helped reconfirm in my mind where I want to be, where I want to live out my career, and that is here,'' he said. ''I'm really happy and comfortable here. So long as they want me, there's no reason to move anywhere else.'' Alonso arrived at McLaren after winning the last two titles with Renault and had expected to be hailed as a saviour and leader at a team that failed to win a race in 2006 for the first time in a decade.
Instead Hamilton, the first black grand prix driver and a McLaren protege since his early years in go-karting, has had a sensational debut.
The relationship between the two intensely competitive drivers has soured since March, with neither talking to the other after the Hungarian Grand Prix in August where Alonso impeded Hamilton in qualifying and was penalised.
Hamilton has questioned Alonso's loyalty to the team and his involvement in a spying controversy that cost McLaren the constructors' championship and a 100 million fine dollars.
In Belgium two weeks ago, Alonso forced his team mate off the track at the first corner on the opening lap when the Briton tried to overtake him.
''I think it will be interesting to see during the last three races whether he'll have the thing Michael Schumacher had, where he'll do anything...(not caring) whether he runs himself or anyone else on the grid off the road,'' said Hamilton of his rival.
''Will he do absolutely anything? I guess that's one of the questions, will he break under pressure? We'll just have to wait and see.
''It will ruin his reputation more than mine, because I'd never do that. I want to win this fair and square.'' REUTERS BJR RK0935