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Alonso joins Ferrari – nine months after the story first broke
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Alonso joins Ferrari – nine months after the story first broke
Posted By: James Allen  |  30 Sep 2009   |  4:13 pm GMT  |  144 comments

Well, it’s finally been confirmed; Fernando Alonso is joining Ferrari next season for three years initial term. The team has also confirmed that Felipe Massa will be racing for them again.

The waiting is over. He's Ferrari's man (Photo:Darren Heath)

The waiting is over. He's Ferrari's man (Photo:Darren Heath)


Formula 1 has it’s dream scenario, which harks back to the Prost vs Senna days – Hamilton in a McLaren vs Alonso in a Ferrari, two drivers on the same level with some history between them. F1, like any sport, works at its absolute best when it has a really great rivalry and we now have that. Except that it’s even better than that because Kimi Raikkonen is also in a McLaren and he’s out to get Alonso too.

Add in a very strong supporting cast of Vettel and Webber in a Red Bull, Button and Rosberg in a Brawn and F1 looks like it has reinvented itself overnight into something utterly un-putdownable.

After all the pain and misery of the off track politics in 2007, 2008 and 2009, the scene is set for some classic years of racing. Lucky old BBC!

The Alonso to Ferrari story is a story which first came to light at New Year 2008, when Pino Allievi wrote it in Gazzetta dello Sport.

The story had no quotes, no attributions, was short and to the point. It said that Alonso had an agreement with Ferrari for 2011, but that it might start in 2010 depending on how the year panned out.

I posted on it at the time, saying that Pino has never been wrong in my experience, when it comes to Ferrari stories like this. There are all sorts of reasons, but let’s just say it’s the way things are done in Italy. Lots of people have doubted it, but Pino hasn’t let us down.

It’s the right move for Alonso and the team in many ways. Alonso is the leader the team has been lacking since Michael Schumacher retired in 2006. He will fit well alongside Felipe Massa who is fast enough to push him and beat him, as he did with Schumacher and Raikkonen. It will be interesting to see how Alonso copes with Massa as he will find it hard to make any demands which impact on Massa’s chances.

Alonso almost went to Ferrari in 2002. He had agreed a deal with Jean Todt to become the Ferrari test driver (ironically the role Massa then took) in the garden at Todt’s villa near Maranello. He was with his then manager Adrian Campos. But soon after he was persuaded by Flavio Briatore to join Renault with the promise of a race seat (Jenson Button’s) for 2003.

Alonso had not signed the Ferrari contract and he told Todt he wasn’t coming. Todt vowed that he would never drive for Ferrari as long as he was there. Alonso went on to win two world titles with Renault at a time when he would have been second fiddle to Michael Schumacher had he made his original move.

He went to McLaren because, unlike most young racers, Ferrari was not his childhood dream, McLaren was. This is because it was Ayrton Senna’s team. But almost as soon as he started there he realised that Ron Dennis was not the person he thought he was and the rest was downhill fast.

When Schumacher retired the only choice for Ferrari to replace him
was Kimi Raikkonen, the only obviously supreme driver around at the time. This strong bargaining position gave Raikkonen the financial deal of a lifetime.

Raikkonen won the 2007 title, coming from 17 points behind Lewis Hamilton with two races to go. But the relationship never gelled and he is leaving the team a year ahead of his contract expiry at the end of 2010, a contract extension which he triggered himself in 2008.

Would Alonso have done better than Raikkonen in 2007 and 2008 with the Ferrari? My own view is that he would, but we will never know.

Ferrari’s press release is focussed very respectfully on Raikkonen. It mentions that Alonso and Massa, backed up by Fisichella as third driver will be the team, but the rest of it is about Raikkonen, thanking him for his service and then there is Raikkonen’s own quote.

There is no quote from Alonso about what this moment means. That is for another time.

Raikkonen speaks with great regret about his departure from the team and you can almost see the lump in his throat, “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, ” he said. “Together, we have won 50% 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.”

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144 Comments
  1. Red Andy says:

    F1′s best driver joins F1′s best team. I’m looking forward to it.

    1. **Paul** says:

      Agreed, over the course of a full F1 season Alonso seems to get more out of his car that any other driver since Schumacher. Yes some drivers are quicker on their day than Fernando (e.g. Kimi) but his pace over the season and consistency wins out. This remember is the guy who came within a point of winning the WDC in a team where he had no support! I can’t wait to see him in a decent car. Alonso is pure class and the best in F1 IMO.

    2. Phil says:

      Hang on, Kimi hasn’t been confirmed at McLaren yet! *ducks*

    3. Antoine says:

      That’s old news, Hamilton joined McLaren back in 2007…

    4. Peter Freeman says:

      Do you mean the double world champion that failed to beat his rookie team mate and the team that can’t win without politics? Is that what you mean?

  2. Skip says:

    These admittedly great lineups will only result in “classic years of racing” if the cars are allowed to, you know, RACE. Unless overtaking is improved, unless the top cars are roughly even in speed, and unless teammates are allowed to fight it out on the track and not hampered de facto team orders, it will simply be more of the same. Expensive more of the same for the teams because of the stars in their paddocks, but still more of the same.

    1. Ted the Mechanic says:

      I agree with James, this should be the dawn of a golden era for Formula 1.

      Ironically Mosley’s cost-cutting and rule-tightening measures will have played their part and hopefully his departure will also ensure a bit less off-track scandal.

  3. Frank Oosterhuis says:

    Is he (Räikkönen) willing to back to McLaren?
    As he claims himself, he has already for-filled his dream: becomming world champion.

    1. Frank Oosterhuis says:

      typo :(

      “willing to GO back”

      1. DC says:

        I believe he is. He has said in the past that he wants to still race in 2010 and unless he gets a drive at Brawn or Red Bull, why would he want to go to any other team that can’t promise a better performance than McLaren?

  4. Michael Grievson says:

    The thing I like about Kimi is he’s never disrespectful.

    1. Ted the Mechanic says:

      I’m not sure that Martin Brundle and ITV would agree with that…

  5. Finn says:

    You say Kimi is going to Macca. 100 percent sure? No announcement yet … though I expect it is true.

    1. Vaishak says:

      I’m too waiting for the official announcement.
      So you cant be sure that rumour is true.

      1. Peter says:

        It would not do any good with Heikki, Macca need the third place, I can understand they are delaying the annoncement, if there is any agreement.

  6. Williams4Ever says:

    “After all the pain and misery of the off track politics in 2007, 2008 and 2009, the scene is set for some classic years of racing.”

    James – I am afraid too early to make that statement. Have you checked closets( or should I say underground dungeons) of all the players in paddock. You never know what skeleton might roll-out from where.

    And Lump in throat for Kimi Raikkonen – Does that mean Hell did freeze over :-O

    1. Jonathan says:

      It was probably a lump of ice cream…

      1. Becky Red says:

        LOL ICE CREAM FOR SURE LOL!!! ICE ICE COLD. He has no Passion like Alonso and Massa!!!1

    2. Peter Freeman says:

      Will Allen Donnelly still be representing Ferrari from the stewards box?

  7. Alistair Blevins says:

    I predict a riot.

    Fireworks at Ferrari and fireworks at Mclaren.

    2007 will look tame in comparison.

    Can’t wait.

  8. F1 Kitteh says:

    Wow .. first sign of any respect for Kimi finally from Ferrari .. I am curious what a sad Kimi looks like though, the same look as when he was interviewed after winning the Belgian GP?

  9. PhilW says:

    “Raikkonen speaks with great regret about his departure from the team and you can almost see the lump in his throat”

    Lump in his wallet, more like!

    1. James Allen says:

      Indeed, he’s collecting two salaries in 2010

      1. Cabby says:

        So Ferrari will have three drivers on the grid after all-two at Ferrari and one at McLaren :)

  10. Vinay says:

    I do hope and wish that next year will actually be what it promises to be. The fans have no appetite for yet another scandal/controversy.

    To F1!

    1. Amanda says:

      Not really, infact its surprising that interest has grown with more controversies. Unfortunately the new additions (so called fans) are not in it for the sport, but more for the gossip and drama.

      WWE anyone?

  11. F1admirer says:

    CONGRATS NANDO! this should have happened in 2007 and he wouldnt have wasted 2 years but hey, that’s life. I think this is great news for the sport as we will see amazing fights with Fernando Lewis and Kimi next year. Can’t hardly wait :)

    FORZA ALONSO!!!

    1. Philip T says:

      Even as a McLaren fan I hasten to point out that Massa will (health/fitness permitting) be involved in some of these fights. As great as it is to have the idea of Fernando, Lewis and Kimi in a title fight let’s not forget Felipe!

    2. Peter Freeman says:

      Dude, as if Alonso is going to beat Massa…

  12. enzofan says:

    Hi James I have followed F1 for over 30 years and although I believe Alonso is a fantastic driver I don’t think he is as good as many people think. I really think Massa and Alonso will be very close with Massa if recovered possibly edging it. Alonso has won two titles but if we look closer at the two seasons Kimi was faster in 2005 but had reliability problems. In 2006 the Renault had the best reliability and a performance advantage while they where using the illegal Mass damper system. When that was removed Alonso was blown away by Schumacher in a straight fight. Massa is a very good driver, people did not rate because he made many mistakes earlier on in his career and was on average a massive 6 tenths of a second fuel corrected slower than Schumacher in qualifying and forty seconds over a race distance slower than Schumacher while teammates. What we must remember is the current crop of leading driver’s don’t have that sort of pace advantage as was proven by the Massa/ Raikonen partnership over each other. They are very close and there is no one mega fast driver such as a Senna or Schumacher. I predict Massa and Alonso to be very close and it will be interesting to see how they handle it.

    James I am also very interested in the Hamilton and Kimi combination. How do you think that will pan out, who will have the upper hand?

    1. James Allen says:

      It will be close and another stern test for Hamilton as was 2007

    2. Antonis says:

      Alonso could have been much much quicker in 2005 had he needed to. You just have to remember China that year – when he outclassed McLaren and Raikonnen by miles – and Suzuka – especially the pass on Schumacher on the outside of 130R!

      And what’s wrong about performance advantage in 2006? Most drivers have a performance advantage when they win – one false negative i can quickly think of is Schumacher in 1995, but his rival was … er, uh,… Damon Hill…

    3. Antonis says:

      In addition, one could equally well say that Alonso was blowing Schumacher away, until suddenly mass dampers were found illegal… why where they suddenly illegal, we all remember: the Schumi-team could not make them work, so had to ban them (same as with the tyres in 2003…)

      1. GP says:

        Exactly, let’s not forget that Ferrari had that right of veto. The mass damper was legal for over a year until Max decided to ban it. Furthermore, let’s not forget that Alonso’ first championship was with a team that had the 5th budget in F1. For his second championship, Renault had slipped to 6th place in terms of budget.

        I can’t wait to see what Fernando will do with a team of Ferrari’s caliber, especially if he brings along his favourite people with him.

        Yeah, this is going to be good.

    4. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

      I agree that Alonso is pretty overrated, and Massa very underrated. And I think Massa has a great chance of beating Alonso if he’s given a shot at it.

      I don’t really agree with your point on Senna and Schumacher somehow being so superhuman above the rest of their competition. Yes, they were the best of their times, and they were usually much better than their teammates. But I don’t think Senna was too far ahead of Prost or Mansell. Similarly, I don’t think Schumacher was too far ahead of Hill or Hakkinen, or too far ahead of Raikkonen or Alonso later on. His gap on Massa can be, as you said, attributable to fuel advantages, as well as the fact that Massa was still a developing driver who had never been put in a position to win races.

      Do I think any of today’s lot are as good as Schumacher? I think certain drivers have bits and pieces. Raikkonen, when motivated, has the raw pace. Alonso definitely seems to have the consistency. Hamilton and Vettel have the car control, and have the potential to develop into the complete package. But right now, none of them are there. Still, I don’t think Schumacher was that far ahead of the rest. No driver is that far ahead of the rest. They’re all pretty close.

      1. Sam says:

        Well, Alonso fans may not like it but I agree with enzofan.

        Alonso had far superior car in the first half of 2006 season. The only way to catch up the 24 points gap was not only keep winning but also Alonso’s DNFing. But both of them DNF in second half so that was it. In other words, Alonso had far superior car overall. And Schumi set more fastest laps then Alonso.

        ” Still, I don’t think Schumacher was that far ahead of the rest. No driver is that far ahead of the rest. They’re all pretty close.”

        This is just an assumption and you are comparing him to those who have not driven the same car with Michael.But we know that Massa did not become a winning driver, overnight. At the start of 2007, he demonstrated that he was at least as fast as Kimi.

        Like enzofan pointed out MS was freakishly faster then Massa, I mean 0.6 think about it. That is SICK, in F1 terms. No driver improve 0.4 second overnight.

        Alonso, himself admitted that he may be not the fastest driver but he is consistent.

        I would love to see Schumi, Alonso and Massa in 3 same cars.

      2. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

        Massa was at least as quick as Raikkonen when Kimi’s head wasn’t in the game AND he had a car more suited to his driving style. When Raikkonen got his head in the game in 2007, he blew Massa away from from France onward.

    5. Uppili says:

      Illegal Mass Damper? Now i am no Alonso fan, in fact i was a Michael fan in 2006, but anyone who bought the FIA’s argument of a mass damper being an “illegal moving aero device” have no idea what exactly a mass damper is….

    6. Sebastian Holguin says:

      I agree with you 100% enzofan, and anyone who has been following f1 religiously for 19 years like me would, but Alonso is bringing huge amount of money from spanish sponsors and despite his average status as a driver seems to have many fans..just like you suggested a lack of amazingly fast drivers like senna or shumacher is the reason for that.

      Hamilton appears to be the closest to them in terms of car control and pace, incredible pace in the rain and in difficult conditions and with a bad car this season.

      Sadly I believe Alonso is going to be outperformed by massa, plus Ferrari may not even be competitive enough..

    7. F1 Kitteh says:

      Kimi destroyed montoya (I’m a JPM fan) so I expect he will do same to Hamilton

    8. Monktonnik says:

      I agree. After the mass damper was made illegal Alonso was less dominant. Jenson Button was instead.

      I don’t believe that Alonso is on the same level as Schumacher yet. I suspect that he will be in the next few years. If anyone can be compared to MSC based on their career so far it is Hamilton.

    9. Marybeth says:

      In 2007 Kimi was Ferrari’s first driver & he won the WDC. In 2008 & ¿09 Massa was first. Domenicali said that this ¿shows respect¿. If Kimi had remained their 1st driver, Ferrari would have had much better numbers at the end of the year. Now Ferrari has to put performance first again to regain the prestige they lost these past 2 years. That makes Massa 2nd, as in 2007. For the past 2 years Ferrari, backed Massa instead of Kimi, now they realize they have switch back to their best driver, Alonso, as 1st to regain prestige. I am beginning to understand what Kimi went through at Ferrari and I am glad that he is out. :)

  13. jrob says:

    Why wasn´t Alonso saying any quote?
    I´m very surprised at that.
    James,this is his official announement as Ferrari driver!
    And he has nothing to say?

    1. LMW says:

      I think it would have been thought of as disrespectful to Kimi. Today was Ferrari’s opportunity to finally show their appreciation for him.

      I dare say we’ll hear from Alonso in tomorrow’s Press Conference.

      Looking forward to next year…

    2. Amanda says:

      Maybe his lawyers are working carefully on how to word it as to prevent another 2007 style infighting before he even sets foot at Maranello.

  14. JimmyF says:

    We’re really set for a brilliant 2010 if the sequence of driver moves plays out as we’ve been led to believe it will.

    It’s nice to see Ferrari give Raikkonen the appropriate send-off as befits his status – yes he has been off the boil at times but that could be attributed to the car as much as him.

    As James says, the thought of the four best drivers in the four best cars, with Brawn, Red Bull etc all in the background, plus the four new teams, really makes F1 looks unmissable.

    Let’s just hope the sport doesn’t publicly shoot itself in the foot as it has done for the last couple of seasons.

    1. Brace says:

      Well, if Todt becomes a president, I’m sure there will be a lot of shooting in the foot.

  15. Adrian says:

    So can we expect Kimi to be confirmed at McLaren this week/weekend as well?

  16. Peter says:

    I don`t think these are Kimi`s words and I don`t think he regrets it so much to be leaving because in my opinion he had never got the support he should have. The car, the emotional team were just not to his liking. He has made however the best deal if he manages to get back to McLaren. He will have every chance to beat Alsonso and Ferrari next year and that would be the final great twist on the story. Let`s wait and see..

  17. martin_tf says:

    One things for sure, he’ll get a nicer company car next year!

    1. KNF says:

      Yeah, that MP4-12C is pure automotive pornography…

      Oh… I thought you were referring to Kimi :D

  18. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

    James,

    I don’t agree with your conclusion on how Ferrari came to Raikkonen initially.

    For one, it’s well known that Ferrari wanted Raikkonen very much when he drove for Sauber in 2001, and that McLaren basically snatched him from right under their nose. So Raikkonen seems to have been the top man on their radar all along.

    While personality-wise Alonso may be a better fit for Ferrari than Raikkonen, I don’t see how the situation between he and Massa can end in any way other than a turf war within the team. Alonso will expect to be designated the number one driver, and Massa (very understandably) will not stand for this after beating Raikkonen in 2008 and nearly winning a world championship. Alonso has already shown he’ll throw his toys out of the pram if his teammate is beating him and he’s not designated the number one driver, and surely he’ll do this if Massa is beating him, which is a much more real possibility than I think most people realize. Plus, we have the report that Alonso is pushing for Ferrari to hire his laundry list of engineers. If they do this, how will Massa react in any way other than to think that Ferrari is relegating him to number two? It’s known that he has a very close relationship with lots of people in the team, and it would appear to him as though his people are making way for Alonso’s people.

    The Hamilton and Raikkonen pairing, on the other hand, is just perfect for McLaren. They’ve got, in my opinion, two of the three best drivers out there on the team. They both like oversteer, which makes things easy for the designers and engineers. Both will focus on the job at hand and not cause disruption. Hamilton had his best season when he was paired with a WDC, so he will be extra motivated to push his game to the next level. Raikkonen will be in a better fit for him, and he’ll probably be somewhat motivated to shove it in Ferrari’s faces.

    Also, I wouldn’t call Sebastian Vettel a “supporting cast” member at Red Bull. For one, Red Bull, in my opinion, has had all the pieces in place to emerge as a top team, and they’re now there. Vettel is perhaps the most talented driver on the grid right now. If anything, I think Vettel is now one of the main players.

    1. Silverstoned says:

      Totally agree, except for a wee niggling concern about how Hamilton will deal with new mate The Iceman.
      I think LH is the most political of them all and we saw how he made mincemeat out of Alonso in 2007 playing Alonso style politics. It’s probably one of his strengths, but he also has that devious side we saw with the Trulli business this year… And don’t say that little shunt in Montreal 2008 was not deliberate.. I could go on.

    2. Evo II says:

      Alonso has out-qualified every single one of is team mates; even when faced with the favored son in McLaren they were equal, and he almost won the 2007 championship in a team _not_ supporting him!

      I can’t see why Massa will be an exception; he is loved at Ferrari, but not that much.

      I’m more curious about how [mod} LH will react when Kimi beats him; maybe he will start crying to Daddy as he did in Monaco 2007 ;-)

  19. john says:

    On second thoughts I would say the less happy from this drivers reshuffle must be Lewis!

    1. Stevie P says:

      I disagree John, F1 racers back themselves. Some call it arrogance; some call it supreme confidence. I always thought Lewis was a tad too arrogant, yet this season has brought him some humility – which is good – without affecting his obvious talent and speed. Thus, I feel Lewis will be happy to take anyone on.

    2. Amanda says:

      Damn straight

  20. Alex Yarnell says:

    So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish…

    1. Steve Evans says:

      And the answer was 42. Million.

  21. Francisco says:

    If Massa for whatever reason is not fit to drive at the beginning of 2010, who will drive for Ferrari? Alonso/Michael or Alonso/Fisi?

    The irony will be to see Alonso/Fisi replicating the golden years at Renault.
    We so hope Massa is fully recovered by then.

    I insist, I can not wait for 2010. I hope as well that McLaren/Ferrari are on similar performance to allow us watch a great show.

    1. Stevie P says:

      I’d say Fisi and he won’t enjoy the experience of getting whooped by Fernando… again! ;-)

      So, I too, hope Felippe makes a full recovery.

      I wasn’t sure about him when he first moved to Ferrari (I figured him another lackey to Schumi), but he showed us all what a good driver he can be… and then with his attitude and humility after winning the race in Brazil, yet having his dreams dashed by such a close call… he, in my opinion, became a great man.

  22. Penfold says:

    Yes at last Marquee drivers filling Marquee teams. I guess Hamilton should have the advantage given that the others are moving teams and Massa is recoverng from his accident. F1 needs the Mclaren/Ferrari battle back, this year has been incredibly dull compared with 07/08. It’s also pretty clear to me that this is Button’s one and only chance to be world champion.

    James i actually had an off topic question. I’ve noticed that Mclaren seem to be using the end of this season as a kind of extented testing session, with new parts for next year being fast tracked to this years car, Ferrari don’t seem to be doing this. Do you think this could give Mclaren an advantage?

    1. James Allen says:

      Ferrari have ideas for a new car and are working on them in the tunnel. I’m not sure what McLaren are trying or whether Ferrari have some or no new bits.

  23. Antonis says:

    Great news! Alonso should lead the next decade of Ferrari triumphs!

    James, thanks for the great blog and for being one of the first to report this story :)

  24. PaulB says:

    Hi James

    You say Kimi will get 2 salaries next year; how much of his salary do you think he’ll get as a pay off?

    Whatever, not bad for what is at worst a sidewards step going back to McLaren!

  25. en2es says:

    Congrats to both Fernando and Ferrari!

    James, re this bit “Alonso had not signed the Ferrari contract and he told Todt he wasn’t coming”, my understanding is that Alonso had already reached an agreement (with a handshake, though not signed yet) with Minardi and asked Todt to go to Minardi and negotiate his release. Todt said that, as it had not been signed yet, Alonso could disregard Minardi and sign with Ferrari, but Fernando rejected that and honoured his word. Meanwhile, Briatore did negotiate with Minardi with the result we all know.

    Best regards from Spain.

    1. CptZorg says:

      Was this right before the time he put on his mask and Zorro outfit and resqued 20 nuns from a burning orphanage?

  26. PaulL says:

    Alonso has been considered by some to be the best “pound for pound” driver. We’ll probably see who is in fact the best in 2010..
    I have a feeling Hamilton is the fastest driver in F1, Alonso is still very complete. Massa, I think, could still be a top-3 driver. I’m really looking forward to what 2010 might reveal about those three.

    1. Amanda says:

      Hamilton the fastest? Whenever mclaren forgot to give Alonso the 2nd rate strategy he has blown him away, Monza 2007 for example.

      And comparisons with Kovalianen is also useless he has always taken on heavier fuel loads and played second fiddle from the start.

      Kimi is by far the fastest on the grid.

      1. PaulL says:

        I would have been inclined to agree with you on Kimi up until 2008.
        Yes, there were tyre warm-up issues in quali, but his race pace at circuits like Japan and Brazil were below par. And he didn’t step up and match Hamilton at Hungary or Monza 2009 either.

      2. Amanda says:

        You are looking the wrong way, a quick look at the 2008 fastest laps shows the pace was there but having to play second fiddle to massa is not way for anyone to be a title contender.

        Canada was his for the taking until ramilton rams him out, France was not his fault either he cant jump out of the cockpit to detach a loose exhaust pipe.

        And look at the number of fastest laps he has accumulated over the years, they dont happen by accident. He has the 3rd highest number of fastest laps for any F1 driver if memory serves right.

  27. Owen Hayes says:

    This is great news to see my favourite driver and best driver in the world Fernando Alonso go to the legendary Ferrari team.

    Ferrari have made the best move they can to fight for championships for the next few years, I for one will be praying that it is a successful combination.

    James, you must feel a little vindication after reporting on this story for a year now, when there were so many skeptics about saying it was not true?

    1. Racehound says:

      Pleased to say I first started the Alonso to Ferrari rumour in August 2007……..I could see there was trouble at McmoRons and guessed Fred was going to leave….I washopinghe would be at Ferrari for 2008 butI guess Dennis vetoed the move……#:)

  28. Stevie P says:

    Magic!!!

    I sincerely hope Brawn and Red Bull are in the mix too, I’d love to see 3 or 4 (maybe 5) teams battling it out for the constructors…

    However, my brain tells me that it’ll be silver and red cars at the front again (yawn! ;-) just joking before I get slated)… which will mean 4 strong drivers battling for the WDC, I s’pose.

    I’d love to see it come down to 7 or 8 drivers in with a chance of the WDC with 4 or 5 races to go; the tension and pressure would be immense.

    But hey, that’s 2010; we still have 2009 to finish of yet and it’s the glorious Suzuka track next :-)

    1. Paul says:

      Count Ross Brawn out at your peril!!!

  29. Duey says:

    Hi James,

    Alonso says that they moved forward his contract with one year because recently something has changed? What is that?

    1. James Allen says:

      A way to move Raikkonen out!

      1. AlexD says:

        James, I cannot understand what did Kimi do or did not do that he is moved? Do you think that his performance was not to the standard? I am not so sure, maybe not just yet sure that Alonso will do good in Ferrari. Maybe he can only work with Flavio? Who knows…

    2. Boombar says:

      I am not James, but I will dare to say – Massa crash in Hungary.

      Alonso sad that during summer they signed for 2011, and all of the sudden they moved fast-forward.

  30. cliff says:

    Bring on 2010….cant wait

  31. onyx says:

    And Jean Todt in control!God help us!

  32. Rocky says:

    I’m sad and happy for Kimi. Sad at the way my team treated him (albiet I’m sure Kimi was paid heaven and earth to move), happy because he will be back to Mclaren for some good racing.

    Alonso-I’ll wait to pass any judgement.

    James, do you have an inkling if Alonso has ‘preferred driver’ clause in his contract. I doubt Luca will give him preferential treatment over beloved Massa.

    1. James Allen says:

      I wouldn’t have thought so. There are no spare cars these days. Developments are limited form next year so it’s not like he can get faster bits than Massa. I will try to find out this weekend.

      1. Rocky says:

        Cool, Thanks!

        PS: I’m loving your site. Autosport and your site are the only ones I need to keep abreast of racing in this side of the pond!

      2. Williams4Ever says:

        With Refuelling Ban, and no fuel restrictions in Qualifiers, No team can play “Fuel Strategy games” like the did earlier, so ultimately that will leave every driver with two variables
        a) Tyre Choices, and Tyre Management b) Upgrades put on the Cars.

        If teams are honest about given identical upgrades to drivers, Its for drivers to work with their engineers to get the optimum setup and manage qualifying and race.

        So even If Alonso gets all his preferred staff to Ferrari, Rob Smedley+Massa can still outsmart them.

        Same goes for Kimi-Lewis at McLaren.

        Only thing that needs to be seen is do they get upgrades equally!!!

  33. Armando666 says:

    It was one of the hapiest moments for me in F1 when Kimi was announced at Ferrari and very sad to see him go. Having said that Alonso at Ferrari, WOW this is going to be awesome. I just hope he can build a team around him like Schumacher did, not taking anything away from Massa, but i think Alonso has more ability and talent than Massa and can hopefully get at least one championship with Scuderia.

    Just a side note, Alonso made comments on the Ferrari official website, can check it out there.

  34. Kedar says:

    Hi James, Good you mention the not so good relationship with Jean Todt and Alonso. I am sure there may be a couple of other guys in the Garage who share the same view and I beleive Massa is managed by Todt Junior. Do you think this will have any impact on Alonso in the Ferrari camp? What happens when Jean Todt (looks almost certain) becomes takes over Max Mosely’s role?

    1. Amanda says:

      More problems for Alonso before he explodes? Surely Massa will be treated equally, and if Alonso cant take it then step aside please because Vettel is coming in. Massa will also have Schumacher’s support given he has just signed to stay on with the team for another 3 years.

  35. DK says:

    Finally, the first domino has fallen … let’s see others will follow as what have been expected!

    Can’t wait, 2010!!

  36. Jay says:

    Hamilton vs. Alonso at the front of the grid will be fantastic viewing!!!

  37. Hugo says:

    James as you said F1 looks to be very exciting next season.
    Fisichella is said to be the third driver but I think Ferrari’s president gave him green light to race for other team,any idea where he will go next season?

    1. Amanda says:

      Qadback owned Suaber-Ferrari, or whatever guise it maybe in. The ferrari engine deal with Fisi in the mix will be a strong deal for them to refuse.

  38. Pol Espargaro says:

    For some reason every time I think of Fernando and Felipe I only think of the Nurburgring 2007 pre-podium argument they got in, which was in Italian. Should be a crazy good line-up. I’m surprised Kimi doesn’t just stay with FIAT and go to rally with them.

    1. James Allen says:

      These things are forgotten quickly

  39. Erik Cramer says:

    This is all fine and well but it will only be exiting if both teams can build a car that is competitive.

  40. Mattw says:

    The big question for me is – does Alonso’s contract garentee him number 1 status in the team?

    Massa is fast, and he is very close to the Ferrari team (a bit like Lewis at McLaren) – Unless Ferrari prevent it, I can see Massa beating Alonso a few times – and we all know how Alonso reacts to that!

    We will see if Alonso has matured since 2007, or if this is still his one weekness.

    1. Amanda says:

      One would be dreaming to expect any different reaction from Alonso, he couldnt even take fisi winning at Renault albeit rare, why should it even change at ferrari for that matter? It would be the 3rd time.

  41. Desdi says:

    Get real. Kimi doesnt get a lump in his throat. He is counting his money and finishing the touches on his McLaren contract.

    1. James Allen says:

      I can assure you he is not happy

      1. Amanda says:

        Agreed, when you are asked to make way for a pay driver it is quiet insulting to say the least, Santander essentially are pay driving Alonso to that seat, no wonder Alonso thanks Luca and says Luca was the one to accept it truly.

      2. DAN says:

        Hi James, here is just something I have noticed: from what you are saying here Kimi is not happy of having to leave Ferrari and he expressed his sadness (very genuine I think) as having to do so. For me that means he in fact felt quite comfortable at this team and wanted to stay for that reason. That kind of contradict what many people here on the blog have expressed, aka that he was poorly supported by Ferrari during his spell with them. A guy genuinely poorly supported by his own team and not feeling at ease working there would be more than happy to leave. Ferrari let Kimi be Kimi for as long as he was working for them. They even allowed him to go rallying. When he was at McLaren under Ron all McLaren drivers were banned for risky activities like the race of Champion. I am curious to see if Martin Whitmarsh will give some freedom to Kimi to do his own things as Ferrari did or will again impose the Ron Dennis rules. Martin is not Ron, he is more relax and also very smart so he might give Kimi some room to play. We just have to wait and see.

  42. Silverstoned says:

    James, can you recall who said in Spa 2004 “You’re looking at the TWO BEST drivers in F1″ as we saw Kimi and Schumacher together after the race??
    - Answer: James Allen.
    You didn’t also say then, “Oh and there’s this other chap called Alonso who is also pretty hot..”…

    So I’m not sure you’re giving The Iceman sufficient credit there James, by asserting that Ferrari always wanted Alonso.

    1. Silverstoned says:

      Forgot to add that Martin Brundle agreed with you 100%.

    2. James Allen says:

      Did I? For me Alonso and Raikkonen were always on a par in those days.

    3. DAN says:

      James and Martin comments were made in 2004 so are they still relevant now? Since then we had the rise of Lewis, Alonso, Vettel, Massa, Webber.
      Most of us might have made the same assessment back then but things have moved on since 2004 and every year we have to re-asset the ranking based on new guys arriving and performing (or not), etc…

      Who is at the top of James or Martin (or all of us) rating now
      is bound to be different from what it was in 2004 as old drivers retire and new ones appear every year and drivers results fluctuate from one year to the next.

      1. Siverstoned says:

        I don’t disagree at all Dan. Just making a v different point about Kimi being regarded back in 2004/5, by Ferrari along with everyone else, as at least as desirable as Alonso. I was quoting JA as proof.

  43. Rafael says:

    Hey mr. Allen,

    Fantastic blog! Anyways…

    Do you think Fernando will now have ensured his contract stated he be treated as the no. 1 driver or at least he receives preferential treatment?

    He once stated that he never really asked for preferential treatment, but surely a guy as smart as he is has learned from his McLaren experience and he knows better now that championship campaigns are maximized when priority is given to just one driver rather than two.

    1. James Allen says:

      That will be the most interesting aspect of this situation. I’ll ask him about it today

      1. Amanda says:

        I am sure you will be met with a very wry smile once that suggest he wants it but he cant get it.

  44. Cabby says:

    This will have been very expensive for Ferrari-or maybe rather for Banco Santander.

    Kimi apparently did not want to leave Ferrari, he probably earns a lot of money there and gets a very good car (considering the recent races).

    I do not think there any other teams on the same level, and that is McLaren.

    But then McLaren already have a top driver ,and with quite a few interesting drivers available at the moment, like Rosberg or even Button, I expect McLaren had to be offered some great reward for helping Alonso (of all drivers) to go to Ferrari(of all teams), maybe thats behind the recently prolonged sponsorship deal with Santander

  45. John M says:

    I can’t help but hope this backfires on Ferrari. I’m sure I’m in the minority with this opinion.

    I’m dissapointed in the disrespect shown to Kimi. 9 wins, 26 podiums, a WDC, and 2 constructor’s champsionships. I guess I don’t see where Kimi hasn’t lived up to his end of the bargain.

    Kimi is not a demonstrative, emotional person. But personally, I do not believe this means he isn’t motivated or doesn’t care. I think people read way too much into his demeanor. It’s kind of funny how some drivers get the benefit of the doubt (problem with tires, mechanical problems, whatever), whereas with Kimi it’s always blamed on “motivation”. I make no claims to knowing Kimi, but his stats seem to indicate he isn’t unmotivated.

    Oh well. Good luck to Ferrari. They’ve got the latest prize they’ve wanted. Now to see if the whole thing doesn’t blow up in their face.

    1. " for sure " says:

      I share your thoughts. Way too many latin emotions in the mix. There will be big bust up sooner or later. I hope Rob Smedley and Felipe show them the way home.

    2. craig says:

      Well said. It seems that if you are not extravagant in F1 or a playboy you are unmotivated. So does that mean that the quiet, reserved Mr. Schumacher was unmotivated? No. So just because Kimi keeps to himself and is not media friendly does not make him any less motivated than anyone else. Let’s see all the armchair critics get in the current Ferrari and drive it faster. Fisi was up his date in Spa. Where is he now?? Wherever he goes he is still gonna be the same Kimi. He’ll do the best with what he is given. For the record, I’m quite partial to the odd ice cream myself

    3. Fuchsia says:

      I agree with all you. This is one of the most sensible and intelligent posts about Kimi i’ve ever come across. I find it ridiculous that people simply assume Kimi is unmotivated. All drivers are out there to win. That’s why they race. Only Kimi can drive a car that has no right to be on the podium around Spa and win. Kimi bowed out of Ferrari with grace and dignity today. He deserves a lot of respect. I hope he makes Ferrari regret replacing him with Alonso next year.

      P.S. I am fed up with all the derogatory ice-cream jokes. What’s wrong with grabbing an ice-cream after his car has been retired from a race?

      1. KNF says:

        I’m scratching my head over the whole ice-cream incident myself, the car was already retired and it wasn’t as if he could do anything else…

        Would there have been this much criticism if Button and Hamilton went off for waffles and a pint after their first lap off in Spa?

  46. Uppili says:

    Alonso and Massa…..two extremely quick but equally temperamental drivers. Boy, does Ferrari like a challenge!!

  47. Bond 007 says:

    I am all time supporter for Kimi. I think for 2010, the greatest beneficiary will be Kimi. This is because he got double salary (from Ferrari and also Mclaren) which makes him still the highest paid F1 driver for 2010. On top of that, he got the best car on the grid (most reliable engine – Mercedes).

    So for Kimi, nothing to feel sad about for leaving Ferrari. In fact, he should celebrate now. His position now is better than Jenson winning the WDC.

  48. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

    James, a couple of questions:

    1) What are you hearing about the approval for Sauber’s reinstatement? It’s been said that there would be a ruling on it this week as to whether or not they would be guaranteed a spot on the grid. Obviously, the implications for the driver market of them being guaranteed a spot would be significant, as it’s an existing team with decent resources that will be powered by Ferrari engines.

    2) When can we expect what the announcement of confirmations about what seem to be certainties now about the driver market? (i.e., Raikkonen to McLaren, Rosberg to Brawn, Kubica to Renault, Barrichello to Williams)

  49. RobM says:

    He went to McLaren because, unlike most young racers, Ferrari was not his childhood dream, McLaren was. This is because it was Ayrton Senna’s team. But almost as soon as he started there he realised that Ron Dennis was not the person he thought he was and the rest was downhill fast.

    Hi James, first of all, just finished reading your insightful book on Schumacher a wonderful read thank you.
    I don’t mean to be gossipy but can you explained in more detail about Ron (he’s been a bit of a hero of mine, i l’m a Mclaren) What sort of person did FA think Ron was and what sort of person did FA find?

    1. KNF says:

      I can’t claim to answer for James, but FA probably found that Ron was exactly what Juan Pablo Montoya claimed, a real hoot to hang out with, but a difficult taskmaster to work under…

      1. RobM says:

        Cheers KNF

        But there’s nothing wrong with being a hard taskmaster, maybe he was too intense, that’s how he always came across… still think there’s more to it though…
        Now if James reads this i think Ron would be a good idea for his next book like Schumy he split people down the middle with his ways.

  50. CptZorg says:

    Mr Arren prease, in your expert opinion, is there any chance Kimi won’t have a drive next year for either being too expensive or for being forced to take a sabbatical in exchange for muchos diñeros?

    1. James Allen says:

      Not looking that way at the moment. You never know, though

      1. Amanda says:

        A contract cant be broken unless its mutual, why will kimi agree to break it to not race? He can be defiant and stay and there is not a damn thing Ferrari can do then, even the CRB will force Ferrari to honor that contract.

        Kimi is leaving because he realized its a waste of time staying on at Ferrari because they have been overcome by financial lust. And he will be asked to leave at the end of 2010 anyway. Alonso was on his way one way or the other.

  51. James H says:

    While I agree that the top echelon of drivers will be fantastic – half of the tracks are dire.

    If F1 really wants to “race”, let’s do it at proper tracks.

    1. James H. says:

      Absolutely in agreement, other James H. There are only a handful of F1 tracks where a great driver can make a difference. Singapore, for instance, was pimped to the hilt, yet to my aging eyes it seemed more like a video game in which the crappy chicane was the only place to pass, except that the only driver that tried to pass there was fined for trying to pass. F1 should not be a mass marketing exercise. It should be about talented drivers going as fast as they dare. At some point, even diehards like me will be alienated by the BS.

      1. James Allen says:

        F1 has always been a mass marketing exercise, even in the days when Stirling Moss had Dunlop on his overalls. It’s also a sport

  52. David Smith says:

    This is the real reason why Kimi never fitted at ferrari. Compare the difference!!!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1HsF5cBWJo

    1. Amanda says:

      There are plenty of videos shots on the tele and probably on youtube if one cared to search where other drivers walk past without regard and kimi continues to sign.

      One video makes no valid basis to make a remark.

  53. Alien says:

    Poor Massa.

  54. rpaco says:

    I wonder how Alonso will get on with Schumacher.
    Schumi will still be there “helping” the team (Massa) and if Massa is managed by Todt junior and dad is no longer friends with Ferrari…..A tangled web could develop.

  55. danish Hanif says:

    hi, nice comments, i agree with most of them.
    well i look forward to see cracking races, Alonso’s magic on tracks for many coming years, f1 fans whose have doubts in alonso’s abilities will be answered in 2010, dont you remember Japan 08, when he was driving like hell and while driving changing is stratgy. he is supereme. 07 was a difficult year for him and lost the title with just a point, remember he was left alone by his own team, how do you feel when your own house is against you? but he fight until last lap.

    he is the only driver who can break MSC records.

    1. Amanda says:

      Interesting fiction there, i may buy this book when its ready.

  56. Kalho says:

    “When Schumacher retired the only choice for Ferrari to replace him
    was Kimi Raikkonen”

    Kimi had already signed with Ferrari when Schumacher announced his retirement.

  57. Michael S says:

    I can’t wait for ’10. However, I am curious if Kimi will sign a 1 or 2 year deal… 1 year seems like a quick stop and might not get the team behind him….

    Not sure how Massa will look but Alonso, Kimi and Hamilton will be tops if their cars can support them

  58. Oli says:

    Off topic, but I had a reminder of how short Hamilton’s time in F1 has been when it was mentioned on the BBC that he’s never raced at Suzuka. How time flies….

  59. Hutch says:

    I just hope that 2010 doesn’t see a strong McLaren and/or Ferrari run away with the show. The mix of teams and drivers capable of winning is what keeps things unpredictable. If Red Bull, Brawn (and Williams?) can stay in the hunt the season will be much more dynamic.

  60. Meeklo says:

    So Alonso is already choosing his engineers eh?

    Then Massa’s should get dedicated access to MichaelSchumacher as one of his RaceEngineer/Strategists/TestDriver!

  61. SW says:

    Hi James,

    Love your writing. When things get a bit quieter for you, could you explain this under steer/over steer scenario for those of us who do not really understand. I have heard people say the next year it will easier for both Ferrari & Mclaren as both their drivers will drive the same way. (is this true, or is it just forum folklore)

    I am also very curious to the sudden improvement from Kimi Raikkonen? I sort of do not believe it is motivation. I honestly do not think people with motivation problems get to top of any sport. Do you have any real theories on the perceived improvement in his form since Massa’s accident?

    Cheers

    1. James Allen says:

      Thanks Scott. On the second question I think it has a lot to do with motivation, Ferrari wanting to get rid of him fired him up. On the first that’s more of a Peter Windsor/Mark Hughes kind of question.

    2. Uppili says:

      DC’s engineer once put it so eloquently…here it is…

      Understeer is when the front of your car hits the wall. Oversteer is when the back of your car hits the wall.

      Gem.

  62. Spyros says:

    “When Schumacher retired the only choice for Ferrari to replace him was Kimi Raikkonen, the only obviously supreme driver around at the time.”

    I could be wrong, but I seem to remember that Schu was contemplating whether or not to retire, and Raikkonen’s arrival (clearly not as a No.2 driver) was what made him go, then and there as opposed to a year later…

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