Fernando Alonso has today spoken of his desire to extend his contract with Ferrari beyond its current date of 2016 and insists that he wants to end his career with the Italian squad.
Speaking as part of Thursday’s FIA Press Conference ahead of this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, the Spaniard spoke openly about the circulation of rumours regarding his future and assured that he will finish his career with, “the best team in the world.”
After four years with Ferrari and on the rebound froma public dressimg down by Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo for negative comments on the car, Alonso was playing the team game today. He understands the fan base that the team possesses, and this adoration does not come stronger than in front of the Tifosi this weekend. With this is mind the double World Champion knew that strong signs of commitment would send echoes through Italy’s motor sport community.
He was quick to quash the hearsay that has surrounded his standing in the driver market since Mark Webber’s retirement from F1 was brought to light. And speculation linking him Webber’s seat was ended this week as Daniel Ricciardo was chosen to step up from Toro Rosso.
“It was only rumours, a lot of rumours. There were rumours about Red Bull, there were rumours in Italy about a sabbatical year. There were so many rumours,” Alonso stated.
“But I still have three-and-a-half more years [on my contract] with Ferrari which I intend to respect and hopefully increase a little bit. I will try to finish my career in the best team in the world – which is Ferrari.”
Following the Summer break, Ferrari looked to have brought themselves back in to contention with an improved car for the second half of the Championship. Alonso’s race pace in Spa gave a positive sign of their performance as we enter the business end of the season.
They remain in third place in the Constructors’ table, with second placed Mercedes seemingly their main targets as Red Bull have a stranglehold on a fourth consecutive title.
“I’m in the best moment of my career with the best experience and performing at the best time,” Alonso added. “I will not miss any opportunity now. I know that I’m still in very good shape for maybe four, five more years. So this for sure I will give 100% of my passion, that is motorsport and my career.”
“Next year will be completely new rules which obviously open the door for many teams to stop the domination that Red Bull seems to have in the last couple of years. So we have high hopes for next year’s challenge.”
Integral to Ferrari’s hopes of a 17th Constructors’ title is consistent high scoring finishes from both of its drivers. During Alonso’s reign as the Ferrari number one driver, Felipe Massa has come under intense scrutiny regarding his inability to find himself bringing home a fair share of the points.
So far in 2013 he has contributed just 67 points to Ferrari’s total of 218 (Alonso 151), and Massa sits in seventh place in the Drivers’ Championship whilst Alonso is second.
Massa was put on a one-year contract for this season, and as yet there is no deal in place to secure him a seat with Ferrari in 2014. A strong drive this weekend would do him a huge favour in front of the Tifosi and the powers that be at Ferrari.
Alonso is clearly keen to retain the Brazilian as his team mate, but the signs are that that there is appetite for change; either to Kimi Raikkonen or possibly even Nico Hulkenberg.
Raikkonen has been heavily linked with a return to the team with whom he won the 2007 World Championship. There are still stumbling blocks, but Italian and Finnish sources say a deal could be concluded after this weekend. Raikkonen told JAonF1 this afternoon that, “I change my mind from one day to the next”, with regards to where he wants to drive next year, we could see an all-out assault by Ferrari in 2014.