Double world champion Fernando Alonso will depart from Ferrari come the season finale at Abu Dhabi as the Scuderia confirmed Sebastian Vettel for 2015.
Alonso has cut short his contract with the Maranello-based team by two years, while Vettel’s departure from Red Bull Racing was announced during the Japanese Grand Prix weekend.
“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,” said Alonso.
“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. 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. I leave Scuderia Ferrari after five years, during which I reached my very best level professionally, tackling major challenges that pushed me to find new limits. I also proved to be a true team player, putting the interests of the Scuderia before my own.
“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. Thanks to the efforts of the men and women of Maranello, on three occasions we came second in the Formula One World Championship, two of them fighting for the title right up to and including the final race, running in a championship winning position for many laps.
“Without a shadow of a doubt, these five years produced some of the best moments of my career and I also feel that, in leaving the team, it is family rather than friends I am leaving behind.
“Now I look to the future with great enthusiasm, knowing that part of my heart will always belong to the prancing horse. I want to thank each and everyone of the team for the trust they showed in me.”
Alonso joined Ferrari from Renault in 2010 and came ever-so-close to winning the championship in his first season. The following year he signed a deal which extended his contract to 2016.
But despite coming close to the title again in 2012, Alonso’s five years with the Scuderia has failed to yield any championships.
Team principal Marco Mattiacci said Alonso “will always occupy a special place” among Ferrari’s greatest drivers.
“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 that 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 endeavours.”
As for the new Ferrari recruit, Sebastian Vettel will take his place alongside Kimi Raikkonen from next season as the four-time world champion begins a three-year contract with Scuderia Ferrari.
“The next stage of my Formula One career will be spent with Scuderia Ferrari and for me that means the dream of a lifetime has come true,” said Vettel.
“When I was a kid, Michael Schumacher in the red car was my greatest idol and now it’s an incredible honour to finally get the chance to drive a Ferrari.
“I already got a small taste of what the Ferrari spirit means, when I took my first win at Monza in 2008, with an engine from the prancing horse built in Maranello. The scuderia has a great tradition in this sport and I am extremely motivated to help the team get back to the top. I will put my heart and soul into making it happen.”
Ferrari team principal Marco Mattiacci said the team “has decided to put its faith in the youngest multiple champion in the history of Formula One”.
“In Formula One terms, Sebastian Vettel is a unique combination of youthfulness and experience and he brings with him that sense of team spirit which will prove invaluable when, together with Kimi, they tackle the challenges awaiting us, as we aim to be front runners again as soon as possible.
“With Sebastian, we all share a thirst for victory as well as enthusiasm, a strong work ethic and tenacity; key elements for all the Scuderia members to write a new chapter in the history of Ferrari.”
So out goes one champion replaced with another. Fernando Alonso has ended his dream hopes of winning the championship in the red car. Can Sebastian Vettel achieve the championship after years of promise for Fernando? Only time can tell but Ferrari needs to deliver the ideal car so that the drivers can do their magic.