Ferrari has finally what we already knew by announcing it has secured Fernando Alonso on a three-year deal from next season.
The 2005 and 2006 world champion will replace Kimi Raikkonen after Ferrari agreed to terminate its agreement with the Finn one year early by mutual consent.
Alonso will team up with Felipe Massa in a strong-looking line-up in 2010, with the Brazilian expected to return from injury well before the season opener in Bahrain next March.
Alonso’s imminent switch to Ferrari will bring to an end his second spell with Renault, with the Spaniard having rejoined the team he won his two world titles with at the start of last season after an unhappy single year at McLaren.
However, the 28-year-old’s second period at Enstone has failed to hit the heights of the first, with the team’s difficult 2009 season compounded in recent weeks by the turmoil of the race-fixing scandal – a controversy which resulted in team principal Flavio Briatore and engineering chief Pat Symonds
being sacked resigning from the team.
The announcement of Alonso’s Ferrari deal should now kick-start the rest of the 2010 driver market, with the grid having waited for the Maranello outfit to confirm its moves before deciding on their respective line-ups.
Raikkonen’s early release from his Ferrari contract appears likely to pave the way for a surprise return to McLaren alongside Lewis Hamilton, the Finn having left the Woking-based squad at the end of 2006 to join its arch rival.
Meanwhile, current BMW star Robert Kubica has been strongly tipped to replace Alonso at Renault, while Nico Rosberg is expected to make the off-season’s other big move and join championship-leader Brawn GP.