Fernando Alonso commits long term F1 future to Ferrari
Scuderia Ferrari
Fernando Alonso commits long term F1 future to Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  19 May 2011   |  12:11 pm GMT  |  98 comments

Fernando Alonso today committed his future to the Ferrari team, with a five year deal which will take him though to the age of 35. Alonso spoke of “ no doubt ending my F1 career” at Ferrari.

Alonso: Ferrari's main man (Darren Heath)


Alonso, who narrowly missed out on last year’s world championship in his first year with the team, was praised by Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo as “a driver who has always demonstrated a winning mentality even in the most difficult circumstances,” a reference to the disastrous final round of 2010 in Abu Dhabi, where the strategy let him down, but also to his attitude and efforts with a disappointing car so far this season.

Apart from an impressive rally last Autumn, where the car was developed into a competitive enough package to allow him to win races and challenge for the title, so far the overall balance sheet for Ferrari with Alonso has not matched expectations. The two times champion has had to be patient as the team overcomes calibration issues with the wind tunnel and a restructuring of the technical management.

Alonso’s commitment to Ferrari is therefore a bold statement of faith on both sides. Like Vettel’s new three year contract with Red Bull, these commitments are the cornerstone of both teams’ medium/long term plans.

The other driver of that calibre, who has yet to decide his long term plans, is Lewis Hamilton.

McLaren are delighted with the pairing of Hamilton and Button, as are their sponsors and all the signs are that they intend to stick with it. However there are some destabilising forces, such as Red Bull’s management, which enjoys dropping compliments and hints about Hamilton joining their squad.

The question is; are they serious, or just trying to destabilise McLaren? And is Hamilton listening? The Englishman dismissed Red Bull as merely ‘a drinks manufacturer’ recently, but their continued domination on the track argues differently and Hamilton is in a position, in which many leading drivers have found themselves in the past; needing to decide whether to stick with McLaren because they are always there or thereabouts, or to try to get himself in the best car.

Hamilton’s idol, Ayrton Senna, won three world titles with McLaren, but eventually moved to Williams in 1994 because they had dominated the sport for the two previous seasons with their Adrian Newey designed car. Hamilton is eager to match Senna’s three titles, but his opposition is fierce and he needs to know that he will have access to a winning car.

Red Bull don’t need Hamilton in order to win because they have Vettel (and Newey). But this is a company which has always done things differently and Hamilton’s appeal to them would be enormous and it would re-energise the team, if they could persuade him to move at the end of 2012. Should this start to look like a reality, a new one year deal for Mark Webber would bridge the gap before Hamilton’s arrival.

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1

Well I have said what I think and I’m very much sticking to it. I think vettel is the fastest man over a single lap at the minute. Also the guy in autosport magazine made a point last week which I agree with. He said that Hamilton keeps getting compared with senna but he said that for him it’s vettel that is most like senna because of his recent domination of poles in the past year or so. Think most of the soo called experts are saying that vettel is the best out there at the minute which is hard to disagree with but my personal opinion is that vettel is the best on a Saturday and that alonso is the best on a Sunday but that vettel is closing in fast on him.

2

The difference between Senna and Vettel as far as poles go is that while Senna was taking all those poles he didn’t always have the best car on the grid. Quite the opposite. It’s just that Senna had this ability, perhaps more than any other driver, of extracting the very maximum out of the car. Along the way that mean extracting the very best out of himself as well. Usually when Senna finished, there was nothing left in the car to be had.

It also explains why he started off so well in his first years in F1, with obviously less capable equipment.

3

James, what has been your favourite driver pairing from the past 20 or so years?

I think Im going to go against the grain and having not witnessed the Prost/Senna era, Im going to choose Webber/Vettel from last season. Great battles, team politics and raced hard until the last race of the season.

I believe that a Vettel/Hamilton pairing would be immense, exactly what Red Bull are looking for, not just in terms of talented drivers but because they fit the Red Bull mould fantastically well, a marketers dream

4

button and jacques

5

Definitely Adrian Sutil and Tonio Liuzzi. Absolutely outstanding…

6

Great question. Might do a post on that with a poll

7

Can’t see RedBull wanting Hamilton if they have Vettel – doesn’t compute after last season’s battle: a less stressed and more reliable Vettel with a no. 2 surely makes most sense in terms of maximising their winning opportunities.

Presumably the Ferrari deal will include a veto over any second drivers.

8

Please say it isnt so. Hamilton’s pretty boy image is perfect fit at the pretensiousness that is McLaren. He looks so adorable in the whiter than white, perfectly pressed interview only jacket…match made in heaven.

9

What? Pretty boy image? It’s more like ugly erratic schoolboy image. It was a match made in heaven when Ron Dennis had most of the power.

10

I can’t see why Hamilton teaming with Vettel should be much different to him teaming with Button. Vettel’s character seems to be pretty easy-going (like Hamilton’s and Button’s) and I think they’d push each other to achieve more (though I honestly think Hamilton would come out best, seeing as how Webber ran Seb so close last year – but I digress, that’s besides the point). Neither Seb or Lewis seems as highly strung and as needy (to be comforted by the team making them the clear no 1 by employing a duffer sidekick) as Alonso and Senna is/was…

Seb and Lewis in Newey cars and Fernando stuck in a Ferrari contract with the Tifosi and Luca getting more and more irritated as the seasons pass – ah, we can but dream..

11
Stephen Kellett

“Should this start to look like a reality, a new one year deal for Mark Webber would bridge the gap before Hamilton’s arrival.”

Nice bit of analysis.

12
Edward Valentine

I think Fernando should have waited before committing to 5 years. It’s quite possible that he will not win another title while at the reigns of the Prancing Horse and I think he and Kubica would work well in a RedBull.

13

I assume Alonso’s logic is to keep Ferrari for himself – in his long game of chess with Lewis I’d suggest he now has the upper hand as RB won’t want Lewis if they have Seb and I’d guess that both Seb and Alonso will now end up with more titles….

14

+1

Ferrari could well be heading for a period in the wilderness, whoever the star drivers are (paid for, of course, by the famous favourable financial settlement they get). Since Schumacher’s backroom Brits (Brawn and others) left they’ve been looking increasingly fragile. This Alonso-Ferrari contract period could just turn out to coincide with a period of Newey-inspired dominance from RBR (unless, that is, Luca gets away with some behind-the-scenes rule-fiddling to hamper the competition..) No, I think some kind of deal with Santander is more likely the main driver (no pun intended) for this deal – but goodness help them if Spain’s economy (the S in the PIGS) follows the others down the pan – they could be stuck with Santander like Williams was stuck with RBS..

15

Great news. It shows how pleased Ferrari must be with Alonso and the other way round if just after one year both sides decide to extend the contract for such a long period. I hope this relationship will bring some good results.

As for Hamilton – it would be interesting from fans’ perspective to see him in RBR along Vettel, but could be difficult to manage. And the situation with McLaren is smilar to what Alonso said today about Ferrari – these teams have been lately on top (or close to the top) even in their bad years so you can almost take for granted that you will fight for the wins driving for them. Red Bull might be on top now, but it’s still not a safe bet in a longer run, thus if I were Hamilton, I would stick to McLaren for a few reasons: you can almost be sure that the team will be on top and Hamilton is in the centre there, while RBR is Vettel’s turf, so entering it might be risky. However, fortune favours the brave, so maybe Lewis should take a risk and jump the ships.

Lots of Hamilton James as for an article with only Alonso in the title ;-).

16

This is great news for F1, ensuring that Ferrari will have a very top line driver for the foreseeable future.

With Seb at Redbull, and Lewis potentially at McLaren or Redbull (I just cant see him at Ferrari – although I’d love to see it).

My only hope is that no 1 team goes and spoils the party by dominating (ahem attention Adrian 😉

If F1 wants a trully competitive formula there should be a 5 year Adrian Newey rotation clause in the Concorde Agreement.

17

Hahahaha… 5 year Adrian Rotation Clause… True and Yet Brilliant :))

18

Great proposal!

19

A little early for the silly season to begin, no?

20

Makes perfect sense; he loves the team, they love him (currently!). He doesn’t fear Massa and even if they were to bring in a different driver he’d still be a “No 2” type. They are and will be one of the top few teams capable of winning races and championships. Makes perfect sense 🙂

21
Williams4Ever

McLaren under Whitmarsh is not the one Hamilton joined in. I don’t foresee McLaren-Hamilton marriage on long term with Martin at helm.

If everyone has missed it, isn’t there a marked difference in how Martin has handled Lewis as compared to how Ron handled him. Martin has frequently critiqued Lewis in public on race management skills and his over enthusiasm which has cost him races (and campaigns).

This used to Ron’s job who used to throw his drivers under the bus, but who was always soft on Lewis and push blamed elsewhere for Lewis’s mistakes in 2007-08 season.

Not to mention Martin knowingly or unknowingly made Jenson Button as the reference point for Lewis (and not the other way round). I wouldn’t be surprised if Lewis doesn’t renew his contract with McLaren.

While British/Lewis/McLaren fans may not like this, but if there is one team that fits Lewis’s temperament, it is Ferrari. And I don’t think Lewis and Alonso would have any problems driving next to each other, unless Ron Dennis becomes team boss at Ferrari…..

22

My thoughts as well, Martin Whitmarsh looks more worry in making Jenson as good as Lewis than making Lewis a world champion. If Lewis wants to win wdcs, he will have to leave the “Jenson and I” environment Whitmarsh wants him to adopt. I suspect that’s the reason why he’s not willing to sign with them just yet. I bet if Ron Dennis still was the TP, he would’ve signed already.

But I don’t think Ferrari suits him at all. I would say RB suits him more. If Vettel is to leave in 2014, he should find himself a deal to be RB new leader. Even Mercedes could be an option in the future.

23

James,

Do you know the inner details of the deal? What are the kind of exit clauses on both sides?

I ask this because of two reasons:

– The Italian media won’t get off Alonso’s back if the title doesn’t materialize until the end of next year.

– This does contradict Luca’s posturing of a breakaway series. Or does this contract include a clause to retain Alonso wherever Ferrari go?

24

Ferrari & Alonso are made for each other. LOL.

25

James, you say ‘Red Bull don’t need Hamilton in order to win because they have Vettel (and Newey)’, me thinks that should read they have Newey (and Vettel)……….

I’d put both Hamilton & Alonso ahead of Vettel if they all had the same car.

The trouble with F1 is so many just see the results, do YOU for example honestly believe Schumacher would have won all his championships had he had been paired with Mika?

Some for sure but not all by far, Senna himself reckoned (as others in know did) he drove his best in his last year at McLaren where he was soundly beaten by Prost.

26

I think Ferrari has cemented the most complete driver in formula one with them for keeps. I am of opinion that the marriage between Alonso and Ferrari is of mutual benefit. There is no one in Formula one who fights harder than Alonso and there is no team or marque than Ferrari which personifies the Spirit of Fight, maybe that is the reason why Ferrari is what Ferrari is and no other team can emulate them by a country mile… What Ferrari has is extremely relate-able to human side of life. The Appeal, The Red Blooded Fight, The Fragility through their Flawed Instincts… Ferrari has everything, and no other driver does justice to what Ferrari stands for than Alonso. So it is the most interwoven marriage in F1.

One thing I’d like to ask Hamilton however, is Atleast Redbull makes sport drinks… what does Mclaren make? (Mclaren F1 is not exactly classified as a product of production, since they have not launched a new model since Mullets were in fashion). So, instead of discrediting someone’s hard work and wonderful efforts try and introspect Mr. Hamilton. And as far as Senna is concerned… You can’t take Mclaren or any other car a percent of places where Senna took… So, go easy and concentrate on your driving and to which I must say that you are bloody fast, but its these constant bickering makes you look more like Prost then Senna. That is why we are fond of Button its simply cos he is not found discrediting anyone and lets his driving reflect everything.

I think Vettel is headed for Ferrari and deservedly so 🙂

27

“what does Mclaren make?” Well let me write you a list.

* Race winning F1 cars

* Every ECU on the F1 grid (McLaren Electronic Systems)

* a very soon to be race winning GT3 car (Automotive), plus having produced the SLR and the F1 to date.

* Lots of bespoke telemetry systems for race teams across europe.

* Technical innovations in sport, medicine etc(applied technologies)

But apart from that, nothing Mo 😉

28

Mo, what is it that Red Bull makes? Guess what, it’s a Sports Drink!

FLASH! Could Lewis be right?

29

It is my understanding that, in addition to producing the ECU that has been mandated by the FIA as the standard unit for F1, McLaren has, amongst other things, produced stereo systems, the official control unit for NASCAR from 2012 and bicycles.

30

I hope this marriage made in heaven does not end in a divorce for you.

Oh and McLaren F1…a Le Man winner!

31

I don’t deny the fact that Mclaren F1 is a wonderful car to own and to drive,for its been ages since they launched a new variant of the same or expanded their product portfolio so you cannot classify Mclaren as a Car-Manufacturer on the same levels as Ferraris and Mercedes or even Lotus for the matter since on those very grounds its valid for me to question a ridiculous statement made by Hamilton calling Redbull a Sports Drink Manufacturer… There are thousands of people that are working hard in 1/10th of Mclaren’s Budget in the Redbull F1 Team and it is preposterous on Hamilton’s part to insult them and their hard work in this manner, especially when you are sailing in the very same boat of classification as the Redbull Team. Well, that only shows that Hamilton though a Senna-wannabe is actually a Prost in disguise 🙂

32

How about the MP4-12C….

33

There We Are Then…

34

James, how much is alonso likely to be paid – and are you suprised he has extended now not least because driver salaries seem to be lower than usual due to the credit crunch?

35

Good question. Somewhere in the €16-20 million a year range would be my guess.

36

According to this: http://sports.espn.go.com/chicago/news/story?id=6391145 he makes $22,736,842 and Felipe makes: $17,052,632 is US dollars. so just shy of €16 mil and just under €12 mil.

37

I know this is an unlikely prospect, but if Lewis were to “get some wings” in 2013, is there any possibility of Vettel making his clearly desired move to Ferrari?

He’s said how having his contract through 2014 doesn’t mean he may not be at Ferrari sooner, and having a Vettel/Hamilton combination would be odd.

A mature Alonso/Vettel combination at Ferrari in 2013 would make more sense. But again, unlikely.

38

He should go, he is wasting his time at McLaren

39
Williams4Ever

+1. He should go to Ferrari. He and Fernando will be the toughest pair to beat. Their driving styles are similar. They have good respect for each other and there won’t be Ron Dennis to hash things up.

40

With fair uncle ron out of the way, i dont think hamilton can give Alonso a good fight.

Just kidding, on a more realistic note, it will be an unbeatable pair on paper, but i doubt two drivers of this caliber will be getting along. The inside the garage politics and tension will finish the teams spirit.

It will be a bad move.

41

I wish I could waste my time at McLaren.

42

It is clear that “Nando” has designs on emulating Schuey’s feats at Ferrari, invest time and build the team into a dynasty. He also wants to be remembered as a Ferrari driver, thus giving himself as long as possible with the outfit to achieve maximum success. Time will tell if it is worthwhile.

Next season is crucial for Hamilton, he seems to want to race for the dominant force. If Red Bull are in the same position next year – you could bet he will sign for them. If McLaren shows signs of re-emerging as a force, then he’d surely re-sign for three-four years.

Webber deserves his Red Bull drive, irrespective of potential future outcomes i.e. Hamilton. He’s done more than enough to warrant his position. It’s just that Vettel’s sublime talent overshadows his efforts, more or less every weekend. I’m sure that when Vettel’s car is struck by lightning, he will be there to pick up the spoils!

43

Great news!.

Like it or not, if you are a F1 fan you should be happy to have such a great talent in F1 for such a long time in a competitive team (I guess).

Let’s hope they can produce a car that match Alonsos talent and determination, this guy deserves at least one more WDC before he retired.

44

well said.

45

Speaking of Abu Dhabi 2010 isn’t it ironic that Daddy Schumi made it possible for baby Schumi to win the title.

Yes, if Rosberg hadn’t tagged Schumi on the first lap, spinning him then all these midfield runners like Petrov wouldn’t have pitted & we all know how that ended.

But anyway, whoever leads the WDC standings going into the last race when there are three of more drivers still in contention, well the guy on top usually doesn’t win it so Alonso was toast from the get go.

46

rosberg never touched michael. michael spun all by himself

47

I am glad the way it is shaping up right now with the Top Reams including Merc and Rosberg all committing long term to the best drivers.

I thought Button at Mclaren was a risk but he seems OK? Lewis against Vettel I think would be closer but there is no mention of how Vettel would feel and I can not recall if he commented on the Hamilton overtures by RB?

I do not think he will want him there. I do believe Webber will stay 2012.

Hamilton could leave Mclaren but it would limit his options for the future. I do not think Merc will pay his fee, Newey could leave RB and Ferrari now have Alonso? It is his coming back to Mclaren later that would be tough.

I would like him to leave but do not think he will, look at todays comment that Button is the best team mate he has had?

48

Webber will be out of Red Bull come 2012, and it will be of his own choice from what ive been led to believe. Red Bull will need to get someone else or give one of their junior drivers a shot if they want Hamilton for 2013.

49

Good to read this……

50

Would Red Bull really want to stem the growth of their Toro Rosso boys by planting Hamilton alongside Vettel? You always hear Alguersuari and Ricciardo talking about making the jump to Red Bull after Toro Rosso (after Webber retires) and I can’t imagine how disconcerting it would be for them to watch Red Bull hire a McLaren driver.

Red Bull seem to be the Barcelona of Formula 1 nowadays. Granted Sauber fills a similar roll for Ferrari but it’s not quite the same.

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