Double F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso has revealed his pride at becoming a Ferrari driver from the 2010 season onwards – admitting that the move is a 'dream come true' for him, and confessing that until a few days ago, the agreement had not been due to start until 2011.
Alonso will leave Renault – with whom the Spaniard has competed for six of his eight campaigns at the highest level – to join the recovering Felipe Massa at the Scuderia
next season on a three-year deal, reputedly with an option for three further years should both parties so desire. It is a challenge he is clearly relishing.
“I'm very happy and very proud to become a Ferrari driver,” enthused the 28-year-old. “Driving a single-seater from the Prancing Horse is everybody's dream in this sport, and now I have the opportunity to make this dream come true.
“Above all I want to thank Ferrari Chairman Luca di Montezemolo, who really wanted this three-year contract. We already had an agreement this summer starting in 2011, but then, over the last days, the picture changed and we decided to anticipate my arrival at Maranello by one year.
“The years at Renault were fantastic; together we won four world titles – two drivers' and as many constructors' championships – and, to this day, 21 grands prix. I wish the team all the best, and let's hope we gain some good results in the last races this year.
“After this season I will put all my effort into next season. I'm sure that, together with Felipe, we'll offer Ferrari and the fans from all over the world some great satisfaction. I can't wait to start working with my new team.”
It is believed that the manner in which 'the picture changed', as Alonso phrases it, was that Kimi Raikkonen agreed to be bought out of his pre-existing 2010 contract with Ferrari to enable the Oviedo native to take his place – a resolution understood to have been reached at the end of lengthy discussions, with the Finn initially adamant that he was going nowhere.
“With Fernando we started talking about a prospective [seat] for 2011,” confirmed team principal Stefano Domenicali, “but then there were the conditions to anticipate the start of our relationship already as of the upcoming championship, [and] we preferred to take the opportunity.”