Ferrari has confirmed that it has reached an agreement with Santander, which will see the Spanish banking giant switch to the Scuderia from McLaren-Mercedes next year.

The deal, which is for a five year period, will see Santander become one of the Maranello-based team's 'most important sponsors' with branding on the cars, drivers' overalls and team kit.

The announcement came today ahead of Ferrari's home race at Monza on Sunday, the thirteenth round in the 2009 FIA F1 World Championship.

"We are very happy to have a new partner like Santander, with whom we are beginning a very important and long term collaboration," commented Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo.

"We share common values, such as striving for excellence, a passion for competition, an international approach and, last but by no means least, the colour red. These values will make this a fruitful partnership, noteworthy around the world."

The deal will further fuel long-standing rumours linking Fernando Alonso to Ferrari, with most predicting that the Spaniard will join the squad in 2010, alongside Felipe Massa, with Kimi Raikkonen possibly going to Renault or out of the sport.

However, while that is what the rumour-mill suggests Montezemolo was giving nothing away and he added that partnership would have no bearing on which drivers' the team signs for next season.

"It doesn't mean anything in terms of choices for the near future," he added. "I want to say it again, that the drivers are chosen by Ferrari and not by the sponsors."

Santander first came into F1 in 2007, when two-time world champion, Alonso joined McLaren-Mercedes from Renault.


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