Further to merely insisting that he has no plans to walk out on Ferrari following Kimi Raikkonen's signing for 2014, Fernando Alonso says that he would be happy to stay at Maranello beyond the terms of his current contract.
The Spaniard has spent the past few weeks playing down suggestions that he could be headed for Red Bull, Lotus or McLaren – rumours that persisted into Singapore following mischievous comments from the latter's Martin Whitmarsh – and took time out after qualifying at Marina Bay to reveal that he still wanted to end his career with the Scuderia.
“I'm not happy [with the rumours],” he admitted to Crash.net, “It's been four races now that I've been saying I'm staying at Ferrari and I would like to end my career here. I say that I'd extend the contract whenever they like, but there are never these quotes the next day. But it is not a problem for me, it's not a problem for the team, and we are just working very closely to arrive at this situation.”
Although he will be 35 when his current deal runs out in 2016, Alonso insisted that he was not worried about racing on beyond that
“That's my desire, and the team has expressed to me the same desire when we've talked about it, so that will be a good thing to achieve,” he noted, “There have been people racing until 38, 39 with no problems - I think Mark [Webber] is one of the best examples, as he's been very competitive, and Michael [Schumacher] came back at a good age. If I can keep the motivation and enjoy the sport, I think 35 is a good age.”
Alonso's motivation could be the biggest factor, especially if Ferrari continues to struggle against the Red Bull juggernaut that looks likely to sweep to another title double in 2013, but the Spaniard refuses to give up on his chances.
“I think we're happy with the work the factory has done - they've worked 24 hours, non-stop,” he noted, “It's true that we're not in the position we wanted to be in, but it isn't because they didn't try the maximum. They work day and night to bring new parts to the races – here we have a new front wing and stuff on the car that is working fine – [and] it has given us a tenth of a second, which was the expected time gain, but [the other teams] are also improving. We were maybe fourth fastest in Hungary and, here, we are also the fourth fastest team. It is sad news, obviously, for us, but there is nothing we can do now except prepare for a perfect race tomorrow.
“We will see if we can improve in the next few races, even if I doubt it. In July, we were around eight-tenths from our competitors and, here, we are 1.1secs, so I don't think that, in Korea and Japan, we will be in pole position by magic. The situation is like this, but the situation was like this last year and we arrived in Brazil with [championship] possibilities when we were slower than our competitors, so we will not lose hope and try until the end.”
Alonso starts seventh in Singapore, having been out-qualified by Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa as well as both Red Bulls, both Mercedes and Romain Grosjean's Lotus, but found himself in a similar position twelve months ago and still made it onto the podium.