Reports from Spain have suggested that Fernando Alonso turned down the chance to jump ship and join Ferrari for the coming Formula One season out of loyalty to the Renault team which rescued him from his McLaren nightmare.
Returning to Enstone was something of a salvation for the double world champion, providing a comforting bosom after the maelstrom wrought by his relationship with Ron Dennis and Lewis Hamilton in 2007 and, if the reports are true, it would appear that Alonso favoured that when offered the chance to move to Maranello for 2009.
The Spaniard has long been mentioned in the same breath as a seat at Ferrari, initially to replace Felipe Massa, and continued to be mentioned throughout 2008 as Kimi Raikkonen struggled for form and Alonso found himself battling in midfield with Renault. However, hard as it may be to imagine anyone turning down a seat at the constructors' champion, as.com
claims that Alonso agreed to stay at Renault before
Ferrari reconfirmed both Massa and Raikkonen through to the end of 2010.
Alonso's extended deal with Renault would bind him to Enstone until the end of 2010, but the Spanish reports do no rule out a change of colours before that, with the Singapore and Japanese GP winner possibly riding the Prancing Horse from the end of the current season. Raikkonen's motivation in 2008 hinted at a possible retirement at the end of the season, which made his two-year contract extension even more of a surprise, and the Finn could yet walk away should he struggle to adapt to the new regulations in 2009, opening a spot for Alonso to slip in alongside Massa, who appears to hold the upper hand at Maranello for the time being.
"That Fernando has always has an interest to drive for Ferrari is not a secret," the Spaniard's manager insisted earlier this week, "What can I say though? 2011 is far away. It is too soon to speak about."