Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone feels Lewis Hamilton may be on his way out of McLaren at the end of this season if he and the team fail to rediscover the winning title formula.
Hamilton has endured three barren seasons since becoming champion in 2008, and crucially he now heads into the final year of a multi-million pound contract with the Woking-based team.
Ahead of the forthcoming campaign, the early suggestion from four days of testing so far in the new McLaren is that the car will be able to fight with Red Bull and reigning king Sebastian Vettel.
Anything other than competing in a title contender and Ecclestone wonders whether Hamilton will opt to remain at McLaren, or indeed if the team itself will want to stay in partnership with him.
With seats potentially available at Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes next year, Hamilton seemingly has options available should another lean season ensue.
Asked initially if he could see the 27-year-old ending his career with McLaren, Ecclestone said: "I doubt that.
"I think if he doesn't perform this year he'll be looking maybe to move on, and the team may also be looking for him to move on."
Ecclestone can at least state Hamilton is in a more positive frame of mind in contrast to the end of last year when on-and-off-track issues clouded his state of mind and hindered his performances.
The 81-year-old, though, has again cast doubt on the people behind Hamilton in XIX Entertainment, who earlier this month employed the services of Didier Coton, who once managed Mika Hakkinen, to guide the Briton.
"I spoke to him (Hamilton) the other day and I think he's a bit more focused," said Ecclestone.
"But I don't agree with the people he's got surrounding him and so-called managing him. I think he doesn't need that sort of management."
Asked of Ecclestone as to whom Hamilton did need, he added: "Someone with their feet on the ground.
"It's a people's job. They don't have to know about technical issues, someone who if you've a problem you can talk to the guy.
"His dad (Anthony) was good, wasn't he? His dad was the right person."
As for Coton, Ecclestone said: "Let's see. I hope so (that he is right)."
With the start to the new season just over three weeks away, Ecclestone is also hoping for a far closer affair than occurred last year.
Although a fan and a friend of Vettel, Ecclestone felt the 24-year-old's runaway success and clinching of the title with four grands prix remaining was not good for the show.
Despite believing Vettel will make it three in a row, Ecclestone said: "We always say this, but I hope the last race is going to be the one where the championship is won.
"We don't want what happened last year, which was not too good.
"We perhaps need a change (of champion). The only person that would say no to that would be Sebastian, but I think everybody else would agree with it.
"But it wasn't good. I am surprised we survived with as much TV as we got right at the end.
"I often wonder whether people watch because of the championship or watch because of the particular race.
"But now we've six world champions, and I think there are probably going to be four very competitive teams, so we should have a very good year."
One of the main items on the agenda for Ecclestone this year is to negotiate with the teams a new Concorde Agreement, the commercial contract that binds the sport.
The teams, however, have already been making noises about wanting a larger share of the spoils than the 50 per cent they share between them, with the remainder going to the sport's owners CVC and Ecclestone.
"I think they're right," said Ecclestone.
"You can't blame them. If they don't ask they are not going to get are they? So I'd be happy to discuss it."
Whether they will get more, however, is another matter because asked if they would get more, he replied: "No, I'm saying I think they are right. That's all.
"I was looking at the figures yesterday with a team manager and the teams got three times as much in 2011 as they did in 2007."
So as to their chances, he said: "Slim to none!"