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It's out! Alonso has a Ferrari contract

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It's out! Alonso has a Ferrari contract
Dec 29, 2008, 4:50 PM

Formula 1 is setting itself up for a great on-track rivalry to match the classic Senna-Prost duel of the early 1990s.

Formula 1 is setting itself up for a great on-track rivalry to match the classic Senna-Prost duel of the early 1990s.

My good friend and colleague Pino Allievi is writing in La Gazetta dello Sport in Italy that Fernando Alonso has a four year contract with Ferrari starting 2011, but with clauses which allow that contract to be brought forward one year to 2010. This will bring Alonso into a head-to-head duel with his nemesis, Lewis Hamilton, with blood red Ferraris and Silver Arrows the weapons of choice.

I have known Pino for almost 20 years and in that time I'm struggling to think of a single occasion on which he has wrongly called a move by Ferrari. He has excellent connections there, going back to Enzo Ferrari's time.

So you can take it as read that this story is true. And it will really shake things up in F1.

There has been much speculation this year that this deal would happen, when Santander decided to move from McLaren to Ferrari for 2010 it brought a fresh wave of rumour, but from Alonso and Ferrari, nothing but silence. This contract appears to have been done during the season. Looking back, Alonso was a brooding figure at the start of the season when his car was uncompetitive and noticeably brightened up in late summer and I wondered at the time whether there was more to it than just his pleasure at seeing the Renault car improving.

Readers of my blog and my writings on ITV-F1.com will be aware that I've long felt that Fernando Alonso is destined to drive for Ferrari in the not too distant future. There are many reasons for this. It was quite clear talking to some of the Ferrari guys at the end of the season that they were worried that Lewis Hamilton will become very hard to beat now that he has his first title under his belt and can settle down a bit. Like all great champions his performances will almost certainly step up a gear now and Ferrari have to plan for how they cope with that.

So we are set for a great rivalry, one which will inspire new generations of fans to the sport. We may get it sooner if Renault continue their impressive progress of 2008, but there is something poetic and symmetrical about Alonso in a Ferrari against Hamilton in a McLaren. It has a feeling of a historic duel, given the enmity which exists between the pair.

There are grave doubts at Maranello about Kimi Raikkonen's motivation to challenge Hamilton, after his lacklustre performances last season. I found a note I'd made in one of my notebooks mid-season, which read, " You don't lose the speed you lose the need," about Kimi and it'll be interesting to see if he can get the need back again in 2009. But let's not write him off too soon, the recently announced changes in engineering staff around him indicate that a lot of effort is going into giving him every opportunity to rediscover his best form. But Ferrari will not be patient for long. The Alonso news indicates that Kimi will have to pull his socks up in the first half of 2009 and if not, they'll bring the Alonso deal forward one year to start in 2010.

I've absolutely no doubt that this is the right thing to do and my feeling is that now the deal is done and the news is out, it will become a self fulfilling prophesy. We'll see him in a Ferrari in 2010.

It's made possible by the fact that Alonso is still so young. We forget that he's only three and a half years older than Hamilton, despite having been an F1 driver since 2001. Last year's performances showed that he has as much fire in his belly as anyone in the field, but as this is a long term contract, Ferrari have built in some safeguards to ensure that fire is still there before they take him on and likewise he has some clauses allowing him to review his position if Ferrari goes into decline and the Renault is 2 seconds a lap quicker.

The irony is that they would have hired Alonso in 2006 when they took Raikkonen were it not for the fact that Alonso had fallen out with Jean Todt after pulling out of an agreed testing contract in 2001, to sign for Renault. Todt said he would never drive for Ferrari, but Todt's influence is now reduced at Ferrari and Montezemolo clearly felt that they had hired the wrong man when they took Raikkonen instead of Alonso in 2006.
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Series Formula 1
Drivers Fernando Alonso Shop Now