Ron Dennis has moved to calm speculation that F1's twelfth entrant Prodrive next year will be equipped with cars and engines supplied by McLaren-Mercedes.

The paddock gossip is widespread and established, and was fuelled further in Bahrain recently when Prodrive boss David Richards toured the grid with McLaren rookie Lewis Hamilton's father Anthony.

The rumours are so well advanced that some F1 insiders are even convinced that Prodrive will turn to McLaren-linked drivers Pedro de la Rosa and Gary Paffett for their fledgling 2008 race lineup.

McLaren chairman Dennis, however, branded the reports "premature" and revealed that only preliminary talks have been held with Richards about the "possibility" of a deal.

He told the British magazine F1 Racing: "I'd never rule out having a partnership with another F1 team, but it would be somewhat premature to say it will be Prodrive."

Dennis, however, admitted that his Woking based outfit would "seriously consider" supplying customer cars to smaller teams, despite his personal ideological reluctance and the current row involving his contemporary Frank Williams, as well as Spyker.

Indeed, McLaren was previously strongly linked to such arrangements with the stillborn Direxiv and Dubai F1 projects, but neither team reached the grid.

Source: GMM