Fernando Alonso will continue to be a Ferrari driver in 2014, team principal Stefano Domenicali has insisted after rumours swept through the F1 world this weekend that Alonso might be in discussions about defecting to Red Bull to take over Mark Webber's soon-to-be-vacant seat next season. (See story
And Sebastian Vettel has also indicated that he's less than thrilled with the idea of Alonso getting the nod, revealing which of the current leading candidates for the #2 Red Bull seat he personally prefers.
"We have a contract with Fernando, Fernando is an asset to the team," insisted Domenicali after the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday, which saw the two-time former world champion battle to a fifth-place finish in a car that clearly didn't suit the superheated Hungaroring.
"This is part of the game in this F1 paddock," he said, when asked whether the latest surge of rumours about Alonso's position would destablise the team heading into the August summer break. "You like this, we are very used to that," he added. "We are very used to it. Honestly it's gone in this ear and gone out that ear.
"For sure, we have a contract, don't you worry about that," Domenicali restated when asked again whether he could be absolutely sure that Alonso would be with the team next season. "For sure, everyone knows about it."
The rumours erupted in Budapest after reports that Alonso's manager Luis Garcia Abad was spotted in earnest discussion with Red Bull boss Christian Horner in the paddock in Hungary. Abad insisted that this was about another of his clients, Carlo Sainz Jr., and not related to Alonso at all.
Asked whether his manager was in talks with Red Bull about his future, Alonso himself responded: “No I don't think so. Not that I know of.” However, the little smile he gave as he replied had many feverishly speculating whether there wasn't more to the story.
However, Horner's own opaque 'non-denial denial' comments started the rumours mills churning into overdrive. Horner might be playing coy simply in order to stir a little unrest and uncertainty in his rival's camp over the August summer break. He may also have an eye on trying to force down the wage demands of another mooted candidate for the vacant Red Bull seat, assuming that the team is currently holding any negotiations with current Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen.
Perhaps more significantly, Red Bull's current star racer Sebastian Vettel has come out cautiously against the idea of Alonso joining him as a team mate next year, indicating that he would prefer the Finn instead.