Montezemolo confirms Fernando Alonso's Ferrari exit: Time is not on his side
It has been the worst kept secret for months, but tonight the former Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo confirmed that Fernando Alonso is to leav...
It has been the worst kept secret for months, but tonight the former Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo confirmed that Fernando Alonso is to leave the Scuderia at the end of 2014 after five seasons without a championship.
"Fernando is leaving for two reasons," Montezemolo said on RAI television. "One because he wants to cement himself in another environment. And two because he's at an age where he cannot wait to win again.
"He has been disappointed not to have won (the title) in these years and he needs a new stimulus."
Alonso's relationship with Ferrari management has been through several phases and things began to unravel in 2013 when he was angling for a Red Bull move and Montezmolo famously 'tweaked his ear', with a public dressing down. Ostensibly that was for criticising the car, but everyone knew that it was about loyalty.
This year with new management coming in through two stages, with first Marco Mattiacci replacing Stefano Domenicali as team principal and then Sergio Marchionne coming in to replace Montezemolo as chairman, Ferrari wanted a driver who was committed to the team and wanted to play a leading role in turning things around over the next three seasons.
Alonso, who is now 33 years old, was contracted for 2015 and 2016, but with time running out for him to win the third title he was always dreamed of, the separation began to take shape. Vettel is only 27 and has already won four world titles, so time is on his side and these Ferrari years are a bonus. They are also important to reinvigorate the TV audiences in Germany which have fallen significantly this year.
Alonso was slightly wrong footed by Ferrari's swoop for Vettel, who used a get out clause in his contract after September 30th, as he was not in the top three in the Drivers' Standings at that point. When Christian Horner let the cat out of the bag the next day that Vettel was Ferrari bound, it was embarrassing for Alonso.
He'd like to be in control of this process, but Montezemolo's words tonight once again show that he isn't as much as he'd like. The announcement of Vettel is waiting for Alonso to make his next move.
There are two apparent options - McLaren Honda or a sabbatical year, which would not be a good idea, in the eyes of most observers. Alonso says he will not be driving a Mercedes powered car next year and that his next move will be the 'obvious one' which is McLaren and Honda.
It's no secret that Alonso wants a Mercedes seat and Mercedes have quite skilfully used this situation to put pressure on Lewis Hamilton and his management team, with whom things are not always silky smooth. If Hamilton wants to stay in the best car in F1 for 2016, then there is a deal to be done, but if he and 19 have ideas that Mercedes don't fancy, then they have Alonso as a back up, which is the one driver Hamilton would not want to yield his seat to.
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