FORMULA 1

Ferrari confirms: Vettel in, Alonso out

Spaniard to make way for German next season, Italian team officially announces

Vettel (l) and Alonso during a press conference.
Vettel (l) and Alonso during a press conference.ALBERT GEA (REUTERS)

Ferrari’s communications policy could not better reflect the general chaos reigning at the Italian Formula 1 team.

It’s been almost two months since Red Bull announced at the Japanese Grand Prix that triple world champion Sebastian Vettel would be leaving the team at the end of the season after telling bosses he would be taking up Ferrari’s offer to replace Fernando Alonso. Ferrari F1 director Christian Horner confirmed right then that the German had received an offer from the Maranello outfit.

But it was only this Thursday, after seven weeks of neither confirming nor denying anything while the details of Alonso’s contract, which was due to run until 2016, were resolved, that Ferrari came out of the shadows at the last race of the season in Abu Dhabi to announce the worst-kept secret in F1: that after five years, the Spaniard was leaving to make way for the German, who has signed for three seasons.

In the Scuderia roll of honor, Fernando Alonso will always occupy a special place” Ferrari team boss Marco Mattiacci

“In the Scuderia Ferrari roll of honor of great drivers, Fernando Alonso will always occupy a special place,” Ferrari team principle Marco Mattiacci said in a statement. “We offer him our heartfelt thanks for what has been an extraordinary adventure with the Scuderia, when in the past five years, he twice came so close to winning the world championship.

“I am sure a great driver like Fernando will always hold the Prancing Horse dear to his heart and I also expect the Ferrari fans will continue to hold him in high regard in his future endeavors.”

The Asturian arrived at the Yas Marina circuit just after 12pm on Thursday to meet with the team and, after receiving a round of applause, say goodbye. “Today is not an easy one for me, because even if I always look to the future with great enthusiasm and determination, at the end of this season my journey as a Ferrari driver will come to an end,” Alonso said. “It was a difficult decision to take, but a carefully considered one, and from start to finish, my love for Ferrari was a prime consideration.

Leaving was a difficult decision to take, but a carefully considered one” Fernando Alonso

“I have always been lucky enough to make my own decisions about my future and I have that possibility now too. I must thank the team for that, as it understood my position. When I had to take important decisions about my future, I did so with Ferrari in my heart, driven by my love for the team. I am very proud of what we have achieved together,” added the Spaniard, who at no moment clarified what his next destination might be, even though his return to McLaren looks almost certain.

A few minutes later Ferrari released a second statement welcoming Vettel, who will drive alongside Kimi Raikkonnen, his best friend in the F1 paddock. “Now Scuderia Ferrari has decided to put its faith in the youngest multiple champion in the history of Formula 1,” it said.

Vettel added in the statement: “The next stage of my Formula 1 career will be spent with Scuderia Ferrari and for me that means the dream of a lifetime has come true.

“When I was a kid, Michael Schumacher in the red car was my greatest idol and now it’s an incredible honor to finally get the chance to drive a Ferrari.”

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