By Andrew Benson
The McLaren Formula One team are attempting to lure Juan Pablo Montoya away from rivals Williams.
The BBC Sport website has learned that McLaren have expressed an interest in signing him when his Williams contract expires at the end of next season.
There is also a slim possibility Montoya could move for next season - McLaren have yet to finalise David Coulthard's place in the team alongside Kimi Raikkonen for 2004.
Montoya is understood to want a bigger salary from Williams, where he is paid substantially less than team-mate Ralf Schumacher.
However, Williams have a firm contract with the 27-year-old, which was signed last year, and team owner Frank Williams would not want to let him go.
A source close to Williams said it was "highly unlikely" Montoya would leave the team at the end of this year.
McLaren know that getting Montoya out of his Williams contract this season would be difficult, but are still keen to secure him from 2005 onwards.
If McLaren do succeed in luring Montoya away from Williams, they would create arguably the most exciting driver pairing in F1.
Both he and Raikkonen are known for their swashbuckling, no-compromise style.
Toyota have also expressed an interest in signing Montoya when he becomes available.
McLaren boss Ron Dennis is good friends with fellow team owner Frank Williams, but this would not be the first time he had grabbed one of his rival's biggest assets.
In the 1980s, he took one of Williams' biggest sponsors, the TAG Group, and a few years later lured away engine supplier Honda, leaving Williams struggling with customer engines for a season.
McLaren managing director Martin Whitmarsh said: "There is a lot of speculation about drivers in F1 and we are not in the business of commenting on it. When or if there's anything to say, we'll say it."
A Williams spokeswoman said the team did not comment on their driver contracts.