Fernando Alonso has been confirmed as a Ferrari driver for next season, it was announced today. The Spaniard will join the Italian team with a three-year contract, the confirmation marking the end of the sport’s worst kept secret.
Alonso’s unveiling is expected to provoke the start of the silly season in earnest, as he moves to replace Kimi Raikkonen in red colours. Raikkonen’s probable destination is his old team McLaren, but Brawn are also thought to be interested in the Finn.
Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali made sure to both welcome new signing Alonso and thank outgoing champion Raikkonen in his statement.
“We are very proud to welcome to our team another winning driver [Alonso], who has demonstrated his amazing talent by winning two world championships in his career to date.
“Of course, we wish to thank Kimi for everything he has done during his time with Ferrari. In his first year with us, he managed to win the drivers’ title, thus making his contribution to Ferrari’s history and he played a vital role in our taking of the constructors’ title in 2007 and 2008.
“Even during a difficult season like this one, he has demonstrated his great talent, with several good results, including a great win in Spa and we are sure that we can share more good times together in the final three races of this season.”
Raikkonen had a contract for 2010 in his pocket from Ferrari, and it is likely that Maranello were legally obliged to pay the Finn off.
He emphasised, in his own statement, that both he and Ferrari agreed he should leave.
“With common consent, we have agreed to terminate the contract binding me to Ferrari to the end of 2010, one year ahead of schedule,” he said.
“I am very sad to be leaving a team with which I have spent three fantastic years, during which time I won plenty of races.
“Together, we have won 50 per cent of the world titles in that period and I managed to take the drivers’ title in 2007, thus achieving the target I had set myself at the start of my career. I have always felt at home with everyone here and I will have many happy memories of my time with the team.”