Abu Dhabi: Fernando Alonso could take a sabbatical from Formula One next year if McLaren again fail to produce a competitive car, McLaren boss Ron Dennis indicated on Saturday.
"He will definitely finish his career in McLaren," Dennis told reporters in a briefing at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
"I have an open mind to anything," he continued in response to the question about whether there was any possibility Alonso would not be at McLaren in 2016 if the team failed to improve their performance.
"Some of the ideas have involved those sorts of considerations, sabbatical years etc. But at this moment of time I would say that we believe we know where we`ll be.
"We`ve got a great number of driver options and we`ve got probably two of the best drivers in the world in our cars. When we have to take the decision we`ll take it together and at this moment of time our drivers for next year are Fernando and Jenson."
Double world champion Alonso joined McLaren from Ferrari this season but has scored only 11 points from 18 races in the former champions` worst ever season.
Team mate Jenson Button, the 2009 champion, has scored 16 points and McLaren -- the sport`s second most successful team -- have not won a race since 2012.
Much of the blame has been directed at Honda, whose power unit has been both unreliable and uncompetitive in the first year of their new partnership with McLaren.
Alonso, who won his titles with Renault, himself cast doubt on his future at the Japanese Grand Prix in October when he told reporters he did not know whether he would be there next season.
While he subsequently clarified that he had a three-year deal and would see out his career with the Woking team, suspicion failed to go away with sceptics pointing out he had not stated he would race the three years in a row.
If he were to take a year out, he would not be the first top driver to do so.
Frenchman Alain Prost had a year out in 1992 after falling out with Ferrari, returning to win his fourth championship with Williams in 1993.
Finland`s Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion, took two years out of Formula One after being replaced at Ferrari by Alonso and returned in 2012 with Lotus before returning to the Italian team in 2014.