In a bid to quell speculation linking him to either an immediate or eventual switch to Ferrari, former double Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso has insisted that as things stand, even he doesn't know with which team he will be racing next year.
Whilst talk of jumping ship from Renault to slot into the cockpit of the #3 scarlet machine at Monza in place of the underperforming Luca Badoer looks to be somewhat premature, paddock whispers continue to maintain that there will be an announcement over the weekend of the Italian Grand Prix confirming Alonso as a Ferrari driver in 2010, in place of the departing Kimi Raikkonen and alongside the recovering Felipe Massa and incoming sponsor Santander.
Having struggled for a second successive campaign at Renault in 2009 with an uncompetitive car at his disposal, the Spaniard has repeatedly made it clear that he cannot – and will not – afford another year in the wilderness, and with the Régie's
future at the highest level more uncertain than ever in the wake of 'Singapore-Gate' [see separate story – click here
], a move away from the French concern at season's end appears inevitable.
Alonso, however, insists that nothing has been decided yet, and stressed that despite the lack of results this year – with only 16 points to his name from the first twelve races, and no finish better than fifth – his commitment to the cause remains firmly intact and his desire to be world champion again burns just as brightly as ever.
“It doesn't change anything,” urged the Oviedo native, quoted by The Canadian Press
. “Next year I still don't know where I'm going to be. All the people think I'm going to change teams, but I still haven't said anything. We just have to wait and see.
“There's not any problem of motivation, because you can always find it. I've got nerves; I can't wait to get in the car to fight and do well. There's no agreement with the team that if we get to a point where things are worse we will turn the page. Sometimes it works out, sometimes not.
“Definitely when you don't have results, everything drops – the euphoria, the brand. I know other racers drive, then pick up their bags and head home. I definitely don't. In 2005 and 2006 I didn't have the experience I have today. I'm a much more complete driver now, and when the opportunity arises I'll be better prepared than ever. I want to be world champion again. I'll never surrender.”
It is fighting talk indeed from the 21-time grand prix-winner, who upon claiming his first crown back in 2005 broke the official F1 record as the youngest competitor ever to do so aged just 24 – a record subsequently stolen from him by erstwhile McLaren-Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton last year. Brawn GP rival Rubens Barrichello – a former Ferrari star himself, from 2000 to 2005 – is convinced that sooner or later, the driver held to be the best in the sport and its most romantic and illustrious team will join forces with one another.
“I do imagine that happening at one point,” the Brazilian contended. “I think it's going to be great for Alonso; he's going to find it's great to be at Ferrari.”