Ferrari Confirm Alonso for 2010

Ferrari confirmed on Wednesday that double world champion, Fernando Alonso, had signed a three-year deal to join the team in 2010, ending weeks of speculation over the sport's worst-kept secret.

Alonso will partner Felipe Massa, while Kimi Raikkonen is expected to return to McLaren.

Fernando said on Wednesday: “I'm very happy and very proud to become a Ferrari driver. Driving a single-seater for the Prancing Horse is everybody's dream in this sport and today 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 few days, the picture changed and we decided to anticipate my arrival in Maranello by one year.”

He added: “After this season I will put all my effort in the 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.”

Team boss, Stefano Domenicali added: We are very proud to welcome to our team another winning driver, who has demonstrated his amazing talent by winning two world championships in his career to date.”

Alonso has spent the majority of his F1 career with Renault, after joining the team as their test driver in 2002, following his first F1 season with Minardi in 2001. In 2003 he was promoted to a race seat, and became the youngest driver to win an F1 race at that time.

In 2005 he became the sport's youngest champion, the record which is now held by Lewis Hamilton, and in 2006 he retained his title in a straight fight to Ferrari's Michael Schumacher. In 2007 he left the team for McLaren, but returned to his former team in 2008 after a difficult season.

2008 and 2009 were less successful, and Alonso said today he would like to follow in Schumacher's footsteps and win multiple world championships for his new team.

He added that he thinks Ferrari will be his last team in his F1 career. He said: “Leaving Ferrari to change teams is always a step backwards. It has to be a step backwards because Ferrari is more than a team and I want to finish my career with them.

“The contract is three years, now, and then with some options to continue. So hopefully I can continue as long as they want and I can finish the career here with a lot of wins.”

The move now throws the driver market right open, with Raikkonen, who had been contracted at Ferrari until the end of 2010, top of the list, expected to return to McLaren, with whom he drove for between 2002 and 2006.

Raikkonen said he was sad to leave Ferrari, after “three fantastic years.”

Team boss Stefano Domenicali said: “We wish to thank Kimi for everything he has done during his time with Ferrari.

“In his first year with us he managed to win the drivers’ title, so making his contribution to Ferrari’s history, and he played a vital role in our taking of the constructors’ title in 2007 and 2008.”

Alonso's current seat at Renault is now up for grabs, with Robert Kubica in line to fill it. But if Raikkonen heads back to McLaren, a question mark will hang over Heikki Kovalainen, with the likely option for him to be to return to Renault.

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