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Alonso wants to finish his career at Ferrari
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Alonso wants to finish his career at Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  01 Oct 2009   |  3:36 pm GMT  |  76 comments

There was quite a bit of relief on all sides today that we were finally able to talk to Fernando Alonso about being a Ferrari driver and get proper answers out of him, instead of ‘Wait and see”.

To listen to him and Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali today, we were told that they had agreed a deal during the summer for Alonso to come to the team in 2011, but then when Renault got themselves embroiled in the Singapore carsh fixing scandal, the opportunity opened up to make the move a year early.

Alo jap 1
Alonso said, “Something wonderful changed,” which hardly describes Renault’s situation over Singapore, while Kimi Raikkonen implied that the something wonderful had to do with the intervention of Santander bank as a major Ferrari sponsor for the next five years. Domenicali denied this.

Either way, Alonso was talking to the team about going there in 2011 and he’s gone a year early which is pretty much the scenario as has been laid out for the last nine months.

There was a huge crowd of media around him today in the paddock. Of the three principal characters in this story, he was the first to speak, at 2-30pm local time, then it was Raikkonen at 4pm and then Domenicali at 5pm.

Alonso was very casually dressed and had not shaved. He clearly wanted to give the impression that this was just a normal day. He was not triumphant, he was his usual serious self. He was modest when asked whether he was a great driver, trotting out the line that he had been lucky to drive some competitive cars in his career and he had just taken the opportunity they offered him.

It was good to hear from him what the Ferrari move means. He cannot say he dreamed of it since childhood because he dreamed of McLaren, but he could say what it feels like to carry not just the hopes of the Spanish nation but also the Italian nation as well,

“It feels good, I think, at the moment. We’ll see next year if the results hopefully are good. But Ferrari is not only about Italy, but there are fans all over the world. Wherever you go on holiday, you’re likely to see some tourists there with a Ferrari cap. I can feel this and it’s great to feel it because you realise that it is more than one team.”

He also trotted out the line that Raikkonen has used on many occasions that he will see out his career at Ferrari,

” I really think that Ferrari will be my last team, as I said, leaving Ferrari to change teams is a step backwards. Ferrari is more than a team and I want to finish my career there.”

There is obviously an implied barb there at Raikkonen, who is leaving Ferrari and is therefore taking a step backwards in Alonso’s view. Did he mean it that way? Hard to say. Equally was he thinking of Raikkonen when he answered on what he hoped to bring to Ferrari,

“Hopefully I can give to them the maximum performance in the car, from a driving point of view and outside the car I can be part of the team and be as professional as possible and to try and help the team produce the best car and give the best performance. I think all the drivers try to do this and sometimes you succeed.”

Again no way of knowing. He played it straight but as always with Alonso, if you look carefully at what he says there is always a message there.

I asked Chris Dyer, who is the head of trackside engineering at Ferrari, whether they would change their working language now that they have two fluent Italian speakers as drivers. He said no, because there are engineers of other nationalities, like German, who do not speak the language. It will be interesting to see whether that changes over time. Both Dyer and Rob Smedley speak Italian, but perhaps not well enough to conduct briefings and debriefings in the language.

Alonso denied that he would be bringing any engineers with him to the team and Domenicali confirmed this, at the same time making the point that the numbers being quoted for Alonso’s salary are way more than the reality.

Drivers are subject to the budget restrictions too, he asserted and the days of the huge money retainers are over. On that basis Alonso will probably earn half of what Raikkonen has been paid these past three seasons.

Domenicali was also very keen to point out that there is nothing special in Alonso’s contract which gives him any kind of number one status or preferential treatment. He has the same contract as Massa.

The focus now turns to the next Ferrari car and you can sense the pressure the team are feeling; the design department has got to deliver them a good car for next year.

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76 Comments
  1. athlon29 says:

    Hello James,

    Have heard something about that rumour Jonathan Noble wrote about? It could be a big shock on the transfer market… Just wondering what is it?

      1. Cabby says:

        Oh no please, you are not serious, are you?

      2. " for sure " says:

        Yeah, with Pat Symonds as engineer!!!!

      3. James Allen says:

        He has some budget. He may find something in the clearing rounds when the new teams are at that, ‘now or never’ stage..

      4. Michael C says:

        Whoever they might be they would be mad to do so given his past record

  2. ian says:

    well James, it seems its just you and I that have picked up on Alonso’s ‘dream’ having changed colour – haven’t seen anyone else mention it, and that has irked me somewhat.
    That small thing – silly as it may seem to some, has dropped Alonso down a few pegs in my eyes – after all, a childhood dream is what it is, no matter how badly the dream turned out

    1. Carlos says:

      I’ve been following his comments in Spanish, and he always says that he’s fulfilling “a” dream by joining Ferrari – as opposed to saying he’s fulfilling “his” dream. It actually stood out as unusual.

      (In Spanish you tend to use possessive pronouns quite a bit less than in English, but this is one situation in which you would use one.)

    2. Dean says:

      Yep…but I suppose Ron Dennis made him see red!

    3. Axu says:

      I have yet to see a quote from Alonso stating that Ferrari was his “childhood dream”. He is talking (as anyone who’s coming to Ferrari would be) about the greatness of the team, but that’s it. It’s a matter of nuance, but a decisive one.

      I am a Mansell / Hakkinen / Alonso / Kubica fan. I never was a Ferrari fan and I will probably never be one. I was a McLaren fan and I hope I will be again :)

  3. Jagan says:

    That’s quite surprising, I always thought Alonso and Kimi, while not friends, had a healthy respect for each other. Maybe, we are just extrapolating, considering these are the areas where Kimi probably didn’t make the kind of impact that he was expected to do.

  4. Aaron James says:

    That pressure on Ferrari is precisely why Alonso is a great addition to the team.

    Schumacher pressured the engineers, the race team, the management to give him the best equipment they could.

    Raikkonen didn’t do that, and part of Ferrari’s relative decline from pack leader to pack member is down to that.

    Alonso will light a fire under a few people’s backsides. It only takes an extra 1% from the team to make a substantial difference in this sport.

    1. Phil says:

      I think it’s also got a lot to do with losing some very key people who were part of the “Schumu years” such as Brawn.

  5. Chuck says:

    I think we are misunderstanding Domenicali’s purposes.

    My guess is that he wants to build a strong team around Alonso and he wants to be regarded as the Team Director during the Alonso Era, a bit in the same fashion as Jean Todt will be regarded in reference to Michael Schumacher.

    That explains why Kimi is off the team now. My guess (again) is that Ferrari will announce in the next months that Massa is not fit to keep on driving, and will announce that Alonso and Fisichella will be driving for 2010. Remember that Fisichella has just been hired, he is italian, and probably not a real competition to Alonso, but at the same time he is good enough to secure points when given a good car (Renault, Force India in 2009), which is important if you also run for the WCC.

    For sure, Alonso has just signed the same contract of Massa, but I guess (third) that Fishichella’s contract is a bit different.

    When they announce that Massa is not fit enough to keep driving, Domenicalli is going to feel the pressure for releasing Kimi, and that is probably my only concern for the plan.

    Finally, James, I have to congratulate you for the extraordinary work you are doing. Being a F1 aficionado for more than 25 years, I never thought I was going to be able to get as much insights as I get from your blog.

    1. Lez says:

      Wow you seem to know everything don’t you.

      Massa 2010 Champion, watch.

      1. Chuck says:

        Hey Lez,

        which part of the three “guess” didn’t you read? I thought we were here to chat and discuss about F1.

        I really wish the best to Massa, and not only for 2010. It is just that Ferrari’s behavior what makes me doubt.

    2. philipb says:

      Ferrari are not going to commit commercial suicide in one of the largest F1 markets in the world by fobbing off Massa. They may come to a “mutual” agreement if his racing form is sub-par after a few races but unless they plan to send every Ferrari dealer & owner in Brazil into some kind of witness protection plan Massa will be driving the red car.

  6. Alex F says:

    It seems as good a time as any to remind people of Alonso’s emotional team radio call back in Brazil 2006 when he was leaving Renault for the first time

    “As long as the car is not red, I wish you the best!”

    What a two-faced tool!

    Now he’s all praze for the Scuderia and thinks everything else is a step below!

    Ferrari fans have memories, if he thinks he’s in for some easy money and an easy ride, he’s wrong.

    1. Bee says:

      Massa will finish him.

  7. kaushal says:

    There is obviously an implied barb there at Raikkonen, who is leaving Ferrari and is therefore taking a step backwards in Alonso’s view. Did he mean it that way? Hard to say.

    Ferrari move to get Alonso is based on commercial issues,and it doesn’t seems that Kimi is taking a step backwards.

    1. Michael C says:

      Let your driving do the talking Kimi. Blow Teflonsos doors off

    2. Michael C says:

      let your driving do the talking Kimi – and blow Teflonso’s doors off!!

  8. Bav says:

    Hi James, Many thanks for your reply y’day. I’m sure many people think this, but do you think the Santander deal was a major factor in Kimi being pushed out. Kimi was very unlucky last year, when you look at the exhaust issue that cost him the French GP and also Lewis driving into the back of him in Canada. This years car didn’t give him (or Massa) any chance of challenging, but as we all know F1 is more ruthless than ever and the Major sponsors now seem to have a bigger say in who drives and who doesn’t!

    1. James Allen says:

      It must have been a factor, mustn’t it?

      1. Martin P says:

        But which was the chicken and which was the egg (so to speak)?

        If Alonso had a deal for 2011, I’m guessing this was signed before Santander came on board?

        That means it made good sense for Santander to follow the Spaniard and swap allegiance to Ferrari, so maybe it was Alonso signing up that took Santander to Ferrari, not the other way around?

        That said, I have no doubt that Santander’s money is what’s made this all possible for 2010 as whichever way you look at it, ditching Kimi has been an expensive exercise.

      2. Monktonnik says:

        I thought that Santander were being lined up because Ferrari were sure Alonso would joining them for 2010. I think he was always headed there, as many commentators (not least yourself) suggested a few months ago.

      3. Hugo says:

        I am sure it was,but,Alonso said that last summer he agreed to move to Ferrari in 2011,so my question is because I forgot already:Did Santander sign a deal with Ferrari for 2010 before or after the “crash gate”?
        If they did it before it means (for me) that Santander is not pushing Kimi out because they thought Alonso was not coming until 2011.

      4. Dean says:

        Here’s one for ya!…Maybe Santander spear-headed the whole crashgate scandal from behind-the-scenes, giving Alonso and earlier release window for Ferrari!…Aren’t conspiracies fun :).

      5. cienmil says:

        Alonso is just a better driver than Kimi. It’s easy to understant.

  9. alex m says:

    “Something wonderful changed” gives a clear insight intot he mentality of Alonso, he means Something wonderful changed for him, nevermind Renault’s situation over Singapore. What thanks for the team punished for cheating a win for him, the team he also charmlessly slagged off when he went for his dream drive at McLaren….

    Sheer nastiness was behind the snide insinuations that Kimi was not a team player and that Ferrari are a team above all others. How Ferrari’s poor second half to 2009 must be playing on his mind. Look at the bookies odds for 2010, they think Lewis will do it, not him.

    “On that basis Alonso will probably earn half of what Raikkonen has been paid these past three seasons”…. we can surmise that Ferrari value his skills as half Raikkonen’s, yet the Sponsors payoff got him the drive. His countrymen in Santander have bought him the seat, paid off Kimi early because they are so desparate see one of their own countrymen win the WDC.

  10. With everyone wanting to finish their careers there, Ferrari will soon be an old folks home…
    Really cliched. History has shown that contracts in F1 are not worth much so we’ll have to wait and see if in 2 yrs time is not Vettel saying the same!

    1. Kiran Shah says:

      Having Domenicalli running things has resulted in Ferrari going back to its early 90s way of running the team. The professional days of Schumacher-Todt-Brawn are gone and seem to have been replaced by Domenicalli types who seem to make their judgements based on emotions (ie. retaining Massa ahead of the 2007 World Champion Kimi Raikonnen), putting Badoer in a race seat to begin with, hiring Fisicella etc etc. Alonso may find that he has joined the wrong kind of Ferrari team to be honest. If Kimi goes to Mclaren, I think he will be a lot more succesfull and should add to his 07 title. Alonso on the other hand may be the Alesi of Ferrari..

      1. " for sure " says:

        No, he absolutely has joined the right team. It will be a disaster.

      2. cienmil says:

        will see…

    2. DK says:

      Good one, LDM can recycle every bit of his comment made in the past weeks….:)

  11. Francisco says:

    “the design department has got to deliver them a good car for next year.”

    Spot on James, I think this is the key, with budget retrictions from now on I am not so sure Ferrari can get a great car from the beginning. I hope so though. I think McLaren at much better at this, their turnaround has been very impressive.

    Look at BMW 2008, their development went to a half hoping to win in 2009. What a disaster that was!!!

  12. DAN says:

    NIce clip (in Portuguese) of Felipe answering a question about
    Fernando’s arrival at Ferrari. He does foresee any problem.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpNu_9suOj0

    1. DAN says:

      Oops, I meant does not foresee any problem.

      Here is another clip of Felipe.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PeBf7-_ONZk

      1. Monktonnik says:

        I don’t speak Portugeuse but he comes across very differently when not speakng in English. He seems very much more relaxed than I have seen him.

        I don’t agree with what he says about Button though!

      2. Antonis says:

        Actually, i also wanted to ask James on that topic.

        Alonso and Massa has this very public spat in Nürbigring 2007, but i was reading lately (probably in “F1 Racing”) that they actually get on together very well.

        Is that so James?

      3. James Allen says:

        Yes I think that was forgotten, but it is interesting that on the day that Alonso is centre of attention in F1 for joining Ferrari, Felipe should choose to spotlight an event which reflects badly on Alonso…

      4. DAN says:

        In another post I pointed out that when drivers are at a Grand-prix they are always followed by a PR lady making sure they says things not too controversial. Right now Felipe is at home in Brazil with no PR lady in sight for a long time so feel naturally more free to speak his mind. Fernando seems to have made a habit too to say more controversial things away from the track when back in Spain and talking in his native tongue. I just read on Formula1.com that Felipe feels he was robed of last year’s title by Renault’s actions at Singapore and that Fernando’s win should not stand.

        Stefano or Luca might call Felipe soon to tell him to be more careful with the Brazilian press and not create a bad felling with Fernando before the start of the season.
        I like both Felipe and Fernando and wish they’ll work well together. In 2007 they were in different teams so clashes on track were to be expected in the middle of a fierce battle, next year they’ll be team mates so if the are smart enough (and I believe or at least hope they are) they should get on reasonably well. Felipe is putting some blame on Renault for something from which Fernando benefited but he knows that Fernando was not responsible for that happening. His grudge is really against Piquet/Symonds/Briatore.

        Felipe got on well with 3 notoriously talented and tough guys: Villeneuve, Schumi and Kimi and also performed very well when partnering them so if somebody can stand up to Fernando it’s him.

        It is common knowledge that Villeneuve and Schumi disliked (is that still the case James?) each other with a passion and have not much in common but they both respect and rate Felipe very highly. That says a lot about Felipe’s talent and human qualities.

        Finally it is fair game from Felipe to send a signal to Nando before the start of the season stating he will want respect from the other side of the team and will be no pushover. I am not sure Felipe chose to spotlight the 2007 Nurburgring incident. It seems to me
        the Brazilian TV team trapped him and wanted to fuel the fire a bit here and Felipe had no choice but to comment on what they were showing. They also forced him to watch again the clip of his accident. I am not too sure he really wanted to see that again but what could he do?

  13. Adron Gardner says:

    The consistency in what I have read the last two days is how Ferrari see Alonso as more communicative. I would not take that to mean Kimi isn’t, however (though it is debatable how much impact he actually had on development) Alonso being a piece of the puzzle otof bringing the fragile McLaren into consistency in 2008 and the Renault chassis back into competitiveness last year may be something Ferrari notice more than other things when they too are looking to bring their difficult car back on pace next year.

    Again the point is debatable, but from the engineering point of view, he may be more communicative when developing the car when they have so little testing time in the spring.

    1. James Allen says:

      I think his leadership qualities from the cockpit are highly valued.

  14. Harveyeight says:

    Does Santander pay Alonso anything? If they do then his retainer is what the figures suggest because it is, in effect, all one.

    I’m a bit unhappy with the barbed comments. Alonso has enough command of English to be clear in his meaning. There can be only one interpretation to comments open to interpretation.

    The pressure really is on Stefano Domenicali I suppose – or if they are speaking in English, shouldn’t we call him Steven Sunday? He’s nailed his colours firmly to Alonso’s mast so to speak and if he doesn’t perform then it matters not whether it is the car or him. It SD’s neck either way.

    I think he needs a fit second driver in case things turn out a bit difficult on the interpersonal front. Alonso needs managing. One wonders if SD is up to that job. He’s no Todt, that’s for sure – that’s no criticism of course.

    I really like Kimi. He’s different and oh so skilled. I do hope he stays in the sport, hopefully in a McLaren. The sport needs him.

    Can you give us a run down of the Italian media’s take on all this? I know the papers will be full of it but what about the TV?

  15. Peter says:

    I think Alonso will find it hard. Massa is more than good enough to win a world championship and I just hope that if Massa wins he doesn’t throw his toys out the pram and blame the team just like he did a McLaren.

  16. Janet says:

    I think Alonso is an outstanding driver, but i found his comments quite petty. He’s got the drive as we all knew he would, no need for the nasty comments. I’m sorry but I find him to be a bit of Jackass. If Kimi retires, I am all about the “HAMI”.

  17. Kiran Shah says:

    James, Any reason why the expected Kimi to Mclaren announcement hasnt happened yet? Are there any hurdles..any news on whats going on? And how upset is Kimi really at what has happened?

  18. john says:

    “Both Dyer and Rob Smedley speak Italian”

    Hmm.. what is the threshold over that you would say someone can speak a language?
    Certainly James they don´t speak Italian as well as you can do..

  19. Andrew Halliday says:

    Hi James,
    I was under the impression that the Ferrai/Marlboro deal still had a while to run but have since heard that the Santander deal is for naming rights. Will it be Scuderia Ferrari Santander or will Marlboro remain the title sponsor?

    1. James Allen says:

      I think Marlboro phase out in a couple of years or so. Not sure whether Santander step at that point.

  20. David Hope says:

    As well as the two quotes James Allen mentions he also said “It is not enough one win a year. ” referring to Ferrari. I can’t help but feel these were all slightly snide comments at Kimi. Fernando always comes accross in a calm enough way in interviews but he always gets such comments, he is every bit as good at promoting brand Alonso as he is at driving! He loves to play the modest country boy whilst really being the most competitive person not just in terms of racing but in terms of wanting fame and to be seen as great and adored. This is part of course of what makes him fast, that determination to win at all costs just like with schumey, but I definitely don’t buy his PR act!

  21. John M says:

    Hey James, Martin Brundle wont find Kimi resting on the Grid in Abu Dhabi while doing his gridwalk will he? If he asks Kimi what he was doing when all this about Fernando in 2010 broke out, Kimi might tell him he was “Havin a shi*” huh :) Brazil 06′ :)

  22. TK says:

    Hi James
    Well, Alonso managed to plant more barbs, politics and mind-games in one press-event than Kimi did in his whole Ferrari tenure.
    But i guess thats what Domenicali and Montezemolo paid so much for? A hot-blooded ambitious ‘superstar’ rather than a clinical no-nonsense racer?
    Reporters will probably like Alonsos move to ferrari as there will inevitably be more to write about than with kimi, who mostly kept his head down and avoided drama and the press when humanly possible?
    Fernando was surrounded by Spygate and Crashgate in the past, i have to wonder if there’ll be another ‘gate’ involving him at ferrari…
    Excellent site, btw, thanks for all your efforts.

  23. Dean says:

    It’s quite disheartening to see that today’s F1 driver is more about the sponsorships they bring – along with the engineers they can pouch – rather than true race-talent.

  24. James says:

    “Domenicali was also very keen to point out that there is nothing special in Alonso’s contract which gives him any kind of number one status or preferential treatment. He has the same contract as Massa.”

    Domenicali expects us to believe that? Although I think Alonso is gonna trump Massa. I’d expect Alonso to win every “qualifying battle” next season.

  25. Ron says:

    I’m confused. I thought that Renault was suspended for two years, but there are mentions of them as an on going team for next year. Help me understand please.

    1. James Allen says:

      The ban was suspended for two years, so as long as they don’t do anything like that again before 2012 they are fine

  26. Kedar says:

    I just feel that there is too much reading between the lines here. These guys are really young and hence we need to take what they say with a pinch of salt. Right from Nicki Lauda’s “its too dangerous” (when he was young of course) to Fernando’s “child hood dream” to Kimi and Hamilton’s teams that they thought they would retire in. Hamilton and dad were trying their luck at getting into Brawn early this year. Bottomline we have probably the best 3 drivers on the grid in the teams that have the resources and intent to be the best in the business. That to me is perhaps the most exciting thing since the days of Mika and Schumi battles.

  27. Nikko2 says:

    It is very unlikely but if Massa did not return next year for whatever reason and Schumacher was fit enough. There is a possibility that next years grid would have on it every world champion for the last 19 years.

    1. Werewolf says:

      Sadly, this is not even possible.

    2. Monktonnik says:

      Err no.

    3. Brace says:

      Mika Hakkinen?

    4. Mattw says:

      Last 9 years. not 19

      1. Nikko2 says:

        Doh! that is what I meant.

        Still next years grid has the potential for a few WC’s in the line up.

        Hamilton
        Raikkonen
        Alonso
        Button/Barrichello/Vettel

        Wow!

  28. RPJ says:

    I must admit i find the Alonso deal a bit disappointing from a Ferrari perspective. Gone seem to be the days when they went for the romantic, maverick (if not always productive) “hard charger” – Villeneuve, Alesi, Mansell and Kimi. Alonso is very much in the Schumacher mould, a kind of mentronome – it seems Schumi still looms large over Ferrari, and, probably, the sport.

    1. philipb says:

      …and talking of Schumi, is it just me or does he always seem to be wandering fairly aimlessly around the Ferrari paddock every time the camera cuts to them?

    2. Werewolf says:

      As much as we love them, the problem with romantic mavericks is that probably only one of them has won multiple titles since F1 cars sprouted wings.

    3. Brace says:

      They go for the results (which is no brainer and it’s what they all are there for anyway) and between those 4 you mentioned, they have 2 titles all together, while Alonso alone has 2. Not to mention Schumacher.
      So, it seems quite logical for me to go with the driver who actually is known for being able to put the team on the winning ways.

      1. RPJ says:

        I know – of course it make sense – still I miss the sight of a red car going all out, sidewaysl, whilst overtaking someone, rather than simply doing it through an efficient pitstop. Bring on the end of refuelling!

  29. Steve Evans says:

    Hi James, do you think that Alonso is going to run into problems regarding Schumachers influence in Ferrari?

    1. James Allen says:

      No. He’s there to do a job and if you look at his track record he is likely to get the job done

  30. Darren says:

    I have never liked Ferrari and Alonso, i think we will have Alonso-gate once Massa get the better of Alonso.

  31. john g says:

    one thing you can always say about alonso is that he is an immense competitor. he know’s kimi is a great driver, heading for a team every bit ferrari’s equal. but he also knows he can beat him in the press game.

    that’s all this is, and you can take it with a massive pinch of salt. and don’t think that kimi’s usual response of a shrug and don’t really care means he won’t be fired up come next year.

    if massa is declared unfit to race, what chance of alonso’s mate kubi to ferrari? :)

    1. Michael C says:

      as I have said elsewhere on this topic Kimi should – and I hope will – let his driving do the talking rather than like (Teflonso) making silly catty comments

  32. M__E says:

    finally the soap oppera is over and we can get back to racing and the rest of the field can FINALLY figure out where they are driving for next year!

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