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Alonso brushes off McLaren

2013-09-21 12:40

TIL THE END... Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso has said he wants to stay with Ferrari til the end of his F1 career. Image: AFP

SINGAPORE  - Fernando Alonso reiterated his long-term love and loyalty to Ferrari on Friday after McLaren, the Formula 1 team he left in acrimonious circumstances in 2007, said they would be keen to sign him.

Alonso, whose contract runs to the end of 2016, told reporters at the Singapore Grand Prix: "I repeat more or less every weekend, but I keep repeating, that I love Ferrari and I will stay in Ferrari until the end.


"I have three more years with Ferrari and I hope many more to come if we can extend the contract."

McLaren principal Martin Whitmarsh had told reporters earlier that his team would be in the market for the double World champion should he want to leave their Italian rivals.

Whitmarsh said when asked if he wanted to sign him.: "Yes, if I could. I think most teams up and down this pitlane would happily sign Fernando Alonso. He's a very talented driver.

"I expect our driver line-up to stay the same in 2014 but we are open to anything. And in the longer term then he'd be a great asset. I think Fernando's in control of his own destiny, but we'll see."

McLaren has yet to confirm their 2014 line-up, although Whitmarsh said 2009 World champion Jenson Button's deal was done, and there are lingering doubts about Mexican Sergio Perez's future with them.

Whitmarsh said: "There's a lot of froth and excitement around these issues but being realistic, that's what I think will happen, but we'll see."

His comments about Alonso set the media abuzz with speculation that the driver could, despite his own assurances to the contrary, leave Maranello as early as the end of 2013 in what would be the shock of the F1 season.

Ferrari announced last week that their 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen was returning in 2014 to partner Alonso in what will be a lineup of champions.

Alonso is used to having a clear No.1 role, and his pairing with Lewis Hamilton at McLaren in 2007 and that team's insistence on giving equal terms to both despite the Briton's rookie status, led to a breakdown in relations with then-principal Ron Dennis and the Spaniard's departure.

Alonso said on Friday that the problems at McLaren had been exaggerated. "There were so many rumours that we had a lot of problems that year but I always say that I had no problems with anyone, it was just the philosophy of the team and especially one man in the team that is not there (now)," he said.

At Ferrari, Alonso has been partnered by Brazilian Felipe Massa - who has not won a race since 2008 and has acted as a supportive number two.

Asked whether he sensed Alonso was now 'more gettable' because of Raikkonen's arrival, Whitmarsh said it would be wrong for him to comment on what was going on at Ferrari but cast doubt on the viability of the new pairing.


Whitmarsh said: "I think people were surprised with the recruitment of Kimi, not because Kimi's not massively talented or that he would want to go to Ferrari, but...whether its a sustainable driver line-up I don't know.

"Let's be frank. People want to sign Fernando Alonso because he is one of the best racing drivers in the world at the moment. He's an asset to any team."

Alonso said that, far from being unhappy with Raikkonen's arrival, he had pushed for it. "Kimi in my opinion, and the team's opinion, was the best option."

McLaren has had a woeful season so far without a single podium finish but they have Honda arriving as engine provider in 2015 in a renewal of what was once the dominant partnership in the sport.

Much of the speculation about Alonso has focused on 2015, and potential escape clauses that would allow the Spaniard to leave Ferrari should 2014's car and engine prove to be uncompetitive.

Stay with Wheels24 for the 2013 Singapore GP weekend.


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