Ferrari has finally confirmed one of the sport’s worst-kept secrets: Fernando Alonso will not drive for the team next year, with the driver and team electing to terminate his contract with two years left to run.
The Spaniard joined the team in 2010 as a replacement to Kimi Räikkönen, and while never given the equipment to add to the two World Championship titles he earned with Renault, the veteran driver managed to finish runner-up on three occasions.
“Today is not an easy one for me, because even if I always look to the future with great enthusiasm and determination, at the end of this season my journey as a Ferrari driver will come to an end,” Alonso said today.
“It was a difficult decision to take, but a carefully considered one and from start to finish, my love for Ferrari was a prime consideration.
“I have always been lucky enough to make my own decisions about my future and I have that possibility now too. I must thank the team for that, as it understood my position.
“I leave Scuderia Ferrari after five years, during which I reached my very best level professionally, tackling major challenges that pushed me to find new limits. I also proved to be a true team-player, putting the interests of the Scuderia before my own.
“When I had to take important decisions about my future, I did so with Ferrari in my heart, driven by my love for the team. I am very proud of what we have achieved together.
“Thanks to the efforts of the men and women of Maranello, on three occasions we came second in the Formula 1 World Championship, two of them fighting for the title right up to and including the final race, running in a championship winning position for many laps.
“Without a shadow of a doubt, these five years produced some of the best moments of my career and I also feel that, in leaving the team, it is family rather than friends I am leaving behind.
“Now I look to the future with great enthusiasm, knowing that part of my heart will always belong to the Prancing Horse. I want to thank each and every one of the team for the trust they showed in me.”
Ferrari team boss Marco Mattiacci added: “In the Scuderia Ferrari roll of honour of great drivers, Fernando Alonso will always occupy a special place.
“We offer him our heartfelt thanks for what has been an extraordinary adventure with the Scuderia, when in the past five years, he twice came so close to winning the World Championship.
“I am sure that a great driver like Fernando will always hold the Prancing Horse dear to his heart and I also expect the Ferrari fans will continue to hold him in high regard in his future endeavours.”
To-date, Alonso has claimed 11 wins and 44 podium finishes in a 95-race stint with the Italian outfit. When he starts his final race for the team on Sunday at Abu Dhabi, he will draw level with Gerhard Berger as the fourth highest starter in the team’s scarlet colours.
The announcement paves the way for the team to confirm that Sebastian Vettel will join the squad as his replacement, while Alonso is widely expected to return to McLaren – which will next year have Honda power – after a single season there in 2007.
Images via XPB Images