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F1 NEWS 

McLaren set to retain Santander

McLaren is set to retain its sponsorship deal with Santander in 2010, AUTOSPORT has learned, despite the Spanish banking giant's high-profile new deal with Ferrari.

Santander announced in the build-up to the Italian Grand Prix that it was embarking on a five-year major sponsorship deal with Ferrari from next year - an agreement that could see the company tie-up with Fernando Alonso at some point.

While the Ferrari deal was in place for some time, discussions are believed to have continued with McLaren about extending its current deal too - especially because of the huge success the bank's profile has enjoyed through its association with Lewis Hamilton.

It is understood that a deal is now close to being confirmed, with an announcement expected in the next week and perhaps even in the build-up to Sunday's Italian Grand Prix.

Santander chief Emilio Botin declined to comment about the McLaren situation when asked about the chances of a deal at the Ferrari announcement.

"Today we are here to speak about Ferrari," he said on Thursday. "From 2010, for five years, Santander will work together in red."

McLaren has also declined to comment about the state of negotiations with Santander.

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